Manel Esparbé i Gasca has been fascinated for years by the First World War and made an evening-long total theatre work inspired by a photograph of a disfigured soldier in 1999-2000. Having returned to his old medium of painting, he now investigates the limits of representation. The three-part construction ofWarzone refers to 19th-century historical paintings, which are read from left to right. It depicts an anonymous, undated landscape, a no man’s land where the unnameable and an awareness of time fade into a thin layer of paint: “Tell it to Amnesia.” We view the landscape from the space suggested by Esparbé on this side of the canvas, still part of the landscape, but from the viewpoint of a shelter. A bird is depicted—not a raven or a crow, just an ordinary bird—but it refuses to assume the usual symbolic role and directs the gaze inexorably back to the distance: the landscape behind the shelter, so that the search for recognition and definition begins anew.
Manel Esparbé i Gasca, born 1959, lives and works in Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions (selection): Dutch Open. International Festival for Dutch Film- and Video-Art, De Balie, Amsterdam, 2005; Under Construction, Nanjing Art Institute, Nanjing, 2004; Domestic Horizons, SKOR, Amsterdam, 2003; Not Homesick: Home Is Where The Art Is, Villa De Bank & Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, 2003.