Two hundred and thirty one

The Relativist

2010 by Efrén Álvarez
Ángels Barcelona until 4th December;

Barcelona born Álvarez shows part of his Government project at Ángels gallery, which aims to map out and reflect the characteristics of Catalan politics. His pieces are all hand drawn in pencil and possess a rawness, an anger it seems, in this hard and determined sheen of graphite. The detail within them is intense; not only in the literal lines of the drawing, but in the time and precision taken with the shading and tone meticulously given through this laborious medium. The technique is indicative of the passion felt for the subjects expressed — these statements need no colour — only the harsh and plain medium of black and white: the baseness of pencil. It is one that carries them well and these images are full of impact; whether they are large and imposing in poster size, or small and idealistic in ripped out pages of notebooks. The ‘maps’ are grotesque flowcharts; disturbing and poignant, as people grow out of one another’s genitals in an overcrowded, undernourished society. Different caricatures represent the stages in this political food chain; those at the top overbearingly big, while the proletariat are crushed miniatures struggling below. These then caricatures stretch to large portrait cartoons of political, moral and appointed positions in society. These characters all have one feature in common, ridiculously oversized shoes; literally ‘grounding’ their positions and often treading on and dragging people and their ideals under their feet. The Relativist of course is fittingly standing on clouds, while the church, trees and a pig float apparently above him. His mouth and nose foam with ever-evaluating and uncommitted theories; his wide eyes and pointed brows gazing glazed over and upward over his Romanesque philosopher’s curls. Taken to their extremes and reality probing, Álvarez’s drawings are provocatively productive in asking questions about Catalan, and indeed much of the world’s, politics.


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