exhibition of de la Torre brothers
curators: Mika Drozdowska, John Moran
SIC! BWA Wrocław Gallery, Poland
Florentine Syndrome, or the state of being excessively moved by beauty, is also the title of the first exhibition of Mexican artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre to take place in Poland. Artistically, the brothers strategically analyze both the formal and mental powers of beauty and ugliness, through which both concepts become a metaphor for the eternal struggle between good and evil. Tactically, however, their goal is to build a narrative and scenery within the exhibition to maximally engage the viewer. In his book On Ugliness, Umberto Eco explains the mechanism of human sensitivity through these terms. The synonyms of beauty: wonderful, harmonious, delicate, graceful are the expressions of uninvolved judgment, while those of ugliness such as grotesque, irregular, clumsy, filthy, etc. usually evoke a reaction of disgust, if not deep repulsion. Therefore, upon entering the universe of de la Torre brothers, we are immediately exposed to the experience of hyper-culture, no thanks to the ecstatic and zealous affectation of beauty, but contrarily – through disharmony, distortion, exaggeration, and even ugliness. We are overwhelmed by the absurdity of reality, finding it hard to catch our collective breath. There is no peace.
Operating between their country of origin and the United States over a 30-year period in their artist practice, they presented their work in various museums and art galleries. The de la Torre brothers are known for addressing issues of nationalism, migration, racism, and cultural perception. They coerce the viewer, leading us into a trap, making us watch whether we want to or not. They urge us to face not only the formal but also the thematic area of their work; eventually leading us into our own “palpitations”, as we are overwhelmed by emotions – we leave feeling either thrilled or disgusted by the reflections of the world in which we exist. Through the use of a great number of multi-layered forms, various media, such as glass, large-format lenticular prints, set design elements, and symbolic references, where pop culture permeates baroque aesthetics and inspirations from pre-Columbian, totem art stand shoulder to shoulder with modern material culture, they build a peculiar museum plan, on the border between high art and kitsch. Nothing is left sacred; no borders left unpenetrated.
In his book, Red and Black, Stendhal formulated the theory of a mirror novel, “… a novel is a mirror carried along the high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision of the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet.” For de la Torres brothers, the mirror is the eyes of the viewer, who in turn creates the image of reality stripped of delusions, but not deprived of glitz and artificiality; real, brutal. Ugly and ultimately beautiful.
graphic design: Hubert Kielan
producer: Iwona Kałuża
cooperation: Gent Glas