Iñaki Bonillas 'DETAIL'
Exhibition September 6 - October 31
Opening reception: 5 SEPTEMBER 2013 AT 6PM
Greta Meert Gallery presents (Détail) the fourth solo exhibition by Iñaki Bonillas (1981, Mexico City).
It had been commonly accepted in art history that details were of the utmost importance in the new élan that
arose in 15th century painting, not least because of the exceptionally high quality of their technical execution.
In 2001, however, David Hockney published his polemic The Secret Knowledge, in which he demolished the
myth of the genius of the Renaissance painter by attributing the stylistic innovations to the painter's use of
optical devices such as mirrors and lenses. The investigation into early forms of photography in artistic
creation, is what links Hockney's research to Iñaki Bonillas' work. Indeed, since the late 1990s the latter has
been focusing on an analytical exploration of the medium of photography, its material reality and image
production. (Détail) reads like a kind of photographic pre-history of photo-like images.
The five installations along the walls of the gallery space refer to the starting point of the exhibition: old art
catalogues with masterpieces by Caravaggio, Van Eyck, Ingres, etc. This visual source material has been
translated into a textual structure (line, footnote, header) in which photographic sources and reproductions have
been arranged on different levels of information. At the center are details photographically reproduced by the
artist and enlarged to a 1:1 scale of the original painting. At the bottom and on top, we find either original pages
taken directly from books or photographs of double page spreads where two or more details appear.
The artist decided to maintain the color of the central details, because the chromatic "reality" in books is almost
always altered, so that the images that are portrayed differ dramatically from the original. The idea was then to
emphasize that quality by grouping the pictures by their main color. In doing this, Bonillas also took some
inspiration from Aby Warburg and his Mnemosyne Atlas, where "visual clusters" served for illustrating one or
several thematic areas. Only these are not ordered here according to the history of style, but rather through visual
similarity. That is: relationships caused by an affinity either of color or of form (many times what relates one image
to the other is a feature: for example, in both appears the same posture of the hands, or the same kind of
landscape). At the end, it has to do with the old principle of "good company".
So, thinking again on a textual structure, color details would work here as text, and the rest of the images,
kept in black and white, would be like footnotes and comments made on the side. With this, not only the
idea of fragmentation is reinforced (since each image is just a part of a whole), but also is the notion of
painting being reproduced incessantly, up to a point where we are about to no longer know how an original
painting looks—because, paraphrasing T. S. Eliot, we “know only a heap of broken images” reproduced in a
book. Through a projection on a transparent surface in the middle of the gallery space, lights enters as if
through a window, and windows are also what the artist have chosen to project here, because they are
already details in themselves, as paintings within paintings, already framed and independent. This
continuous play of various scale and color defines the rhythm of the entire exhibition.
In line with the conceptual tradition, the exhibition is laced with reflections both on the relationship between
visual and textual signifiers and on photographic reality through an endless process of multiplication and
reproduction. (Détail) is a brilliant addition to the relationship with the medium of photography that Iñaki
Bonillas has established throughout his oeuvre.
Solo shows of the artist have been organized by La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona; Rencontres d’Arles;
Museu de Valls, Valls; MAM, Mexico City, and MHKA, Antwerp. His work was also selected for exhibitions during
Sao Paulo Biennial 2012 and Art Basel/Art Unlimited 2013, and included in group shows by Musée d’Art
Moderne de la Ville de Paris; FRAC Lorraine; La Colección Jumex, Mexico City, and MACBA, Barcelona.