Newman Popiashvili Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Javier Arce at the gallery titled Kill Lies All. The show title comes from the phrase spray-painted on Guernica by Tony Shafrazi in 1974. This show includes a wall-sized mural, engravings, and sculpture based on various images concerning Guernica.
Arce continues his practice of working with image appropriation and historical referencing. In Kill Lies All he concentrates on one work–Picasso’s Guernica and the history surrounding it. The mural on the gallery wall is based on the image published in the Spanish press in 1981 showing the moment in which Guernica arrives back in Madrid from New York. Though we are constantly aware of Guernica’s presence, it is never revealed or visibly reproduced in any of the works in the exhibition.
The drawing of Guernica, made to scale, is crumpled up and placed on the gallery floor. The large scale piece functions as a sculpture, again concealing the actual image of the painting. The visible parts of the drawing, which is made with a ball point pen, appear almost as an etching. By asking us to stand and look at a transformed copy of an original work, Arce forces us to examine the contradictions and parallels between high culture and popular culture by turning something so far removed from the everyday world into something conventional and attainable. Arce blurs the boundaries between elite culture and mass culture. He bridges the gap between art and life and questions tradition, modernity and convention.
Working with the image of Shafrazi being arrested shortly after defacing Guernica, Arce underlines the connection between the pretext for the return of the painting to Spain. The location of the painting at MoMA was proven to be unsafe and thus gave Spain further justification for its return to Madrid.
Alongside the mural Arce shows a series of engravings made in the drypoint technique, displayed in the Military sculpture-box and on the gallery wall. The series is titled _Removal Assignments_–showing documentary images of the bombing of the city of Guernica, that are presented it in such a way that only traces of smoke, and not any recognizable landmarks are apparent. Although it is an image of a specific historical event, it could be equally applied to any act of violence regardless of geographical location or time period.
During the opening reception the artist will print some leaflets, using a manual Minerva-Adana printer, with two different accounts of destruction of the city of Guernica. One is by George Steer and the second one by James Holburn. Both were reporters for The London Times and were covering the events of April 1937, although their articles tell very different stories.
Javier Arce is a Spanish artist. He has a degree in Engraving from the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas in Oviedo and his Honors Degree in Fine Art at the Basque Country University. He received his Masters in Sculpture from the Wimbledon School of Fine Art. He has exhibited at Max Estrella Gallery, Madrid and Galería Del Sol St., Santander among others. He was granted with The International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York. He received in 2007 the Mención de Honor Generación 2007 in Madrid.