The Moscow Museum of Modern Art together with the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), with the support of the Embassy of Spain, presents a solo exhibition of the Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, the first to be held in Russia. The Catalonian artist gained fame thanks to his figurative installations and sculptures integrated in urban and natural landscapes, which can be seen on the streets of Chicago, London, Montreal, Nice and Tokyo. Airiness, transparency, «lace-like» structures contrasting with the solidity of cast iron and stone, existential problems and romantic feelings, reflection on oneself and the world — these are the features of Jaume Plensa’s work which make him an artist of «sensations and ideas». In Moscow, under the curatorship of MACBA’s director Ferran Barenblit the artist has put together an exhibition that includes his 20 key works from the recent show in MACBA.
The exhibition in MMOMA includes sculptures and installations created by the artist during the last 30 years. In Plensa’s view, the show is not a retrospective but rather an overview of his major concepts. Along with his recent works «Silence» (2016) and «Self-Portrait with Music» (2018), the show includes earlier pieces such as «Tervuren» (1989) and his famous «Firenze II» (1992), a huge aluminium sculpture in the form of a question mark. Serving as the starting point of the show, it hints at the artist’s outlook on his work and sculpture as a whole. In Jaume Plensa’s view, sculpture is the best way to call a statement into doubt and ask a question. In this sense, Plensa’s projects are able to «awake» viewers and engage them in reflection.
In his work, Plensa explores the condition of being: its physical and spiritual essence, the relationship between the present and the past and between men and nature. Through sculpture, Plensa articulates his attitude to the world without trying to solve its mysteries. This approach has determined the formal features of his work. Plensa often produces large-scale sculptures incorporated in the surrounding environment. By creating works that blend into the landscape, he opens a dialogue between his pieces and the environment, its architecture and people. The exhibition takes viewers on a journey demonstrating a conversation that takes place between sculptures portraying the human figure and abstract works.
Plensa often creates self-portraits, among which «Heart of the Trees» (2007) is one of the most famous, becoming the subject of his own work and a figure in direct contact with the viewer, who thus faces the artist in different manifestations. Another characteristic feature of Jaume Plensa’s sculpture is the use of literature, poetry, music, religion and thought. For example, «Glückauf?» (2004), which is one of the key pieces in the show, quotes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The work demonstrates the artist’s commitment to European values, and once again draws our attention to the necessity of respecting and protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals.
The main difference between the MMOMA exhibition and the one that was held in MACBA is that the Moscow show is enriched with new meanings and dialogues. In Plensa’s view, the history of the MMOMA mansion, its myths and legends, enfilades and architectural elements, museum attendants and visitors — all this influences the arrangement of sculptures. In order to create a meaningful interaction between his sculptures and MMOMA’s space Plensa has come up with a new display. Curator Ferran Barenblit.