Debajo del Sombrero is a platform for the creation, dissemination and production of art aimed at persons with mental disabilities. Their workshops are held at La Casa Encendida, Matadero and the Fine Art Faculty, venues that facilitate learning, dialogue with other artists and the materialisation of creative projects.
"I've been following the work of these artists for some time, and on occasion I've been invited to share my experiences as an artist with them. This time my task is a major commitment: to curate an exhibition, the first of its kind ever organised in Spain. From the outset I was impressed by the depth of their work, of their reflexive actions and of what an exercise of this artistic and social magnitude represents for them and for us. They work without 'bridges'. They tackle things head-on; their transmission is crystal-clear and steeped in intrigue. I find this fascinating and profoundly atavistic. I feel that, when presenting this work in an exhibition, the staging should not be as airy or invisible as it usually is. One must choose, from an infinite sea of possibilities, the work that makes no concessions, the most straightforward. This is a challenge, because there is not a single work which does not have that mark of 'coming from another place'. The exhibition design has a dual purpose: to underscore the depth and complexity of the artwork, and at the same time to wrap it in a deliberate, solemn, linear classicism." Álvaro Matxinbarrena, curator of the exhibition
The artwork in this show took shape slowly and unhurriedly during the Sombrero workshops. At first they emerged as outlines of mere utterances, a torrent of disjointed words that had found a medium where they could flow unchecked. These are works made language by the irrepressible urge to say, in any way possible, what cannot be held in any longer. They are the abundance and uncontrollable glut of images rushing around a central theme, repeating themselves over and over again in myriad forms, as if they had been there forever, just waiting to communicate.
In principle, what this exhibition proposes is nothing more than an approach, an approximation to gain a modest understanding of what guides these images, now become works of art: pieces barely born as fragments of something else that never quite materialises, some of which are still halfway through their lengthy production process, interrupted momentarily to be put on display. Therefore, this show accurately conveys a sense of not knowing exactly what we are dealing with, served up to the spectator with all its vitality and immediacy.
However, a mere glance at this work, so entirely devoid of artifice, leaves us in no doubt as to one thing: the honesty and humility of artwork produced without ulterior motives, works given or made just “because”, because it had to be so. And the force of this honest, humble impetus strikes a sudden blow that is clean and true, excessive and exuberant in the pure joy of being.
Something this simple and sincere cannot fail to register with observers who view it directly, without distance or detachment; they will embrace it as their own, because they name it with simple words of life.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a film series, "The Body Manifests Itself", from 6 November to 17 December.