Thinking, Seeing, Taking Away:
Lidó Rico’s Strategies ofActivating Sculpture

Mieke Bal

The material of the sculptures does not express emotions, nor does it solicit them. Creating a space of affective intensity, it merely transgresses the firm boundary between object, artefact, or thing, and the people who visit, view, and ponder those things. This transgression is the effect of the material, and that makes it hysterical. The material is hysterical not only in that it makes viewers emotionally transgressive, but even in the old sense, when hysteria meant the wandering of the womb. For it transfers the quality of the surface from work to viewer, and from eye to hand or mouth. This etymology makes it not only a female disease, as it has been traditionally mobilized against women, since only women have wombs; but one of movement from a fixed position. This unmooring is the excess. It is what makes it possible, for material, to be hysterical; it turns the materiality into a character. Works like those Rico is showing here make this understandable and, indeed, sensually accessible. The agency of the material, whether or not hysterical, precludes indifference. This is what Lidó does when he compels the integration of thinking and seeing…

Thinking, Seeing, Taking Away:
Lidó Rico’s Strategies ofActivating Sculpture

Mieke Bal

The Figural as Artistic Language
One work in the exhibition stands out as dubiously sculptural: Nocturno de Apalancados(«Night of Leveraged»). This composition of a large number (100) of images on acrylic fixated on wood, each measuring 80 x 110 x 2,5 cm, is emphatically different from the other works in the exhibition. Its surface is quite large, 6,5 m x 14,5m x 2,5 cm.By all accounts, these images are flat. They are paintings, rather than sculptures. As paintings, they have perspectival depth, the figure being glued behind a depicted table, from which they cannot be distinguished. Rather, they seem to emerge from the table top, which thereby becomes simply another plane, rivalling the flat paintings. However, their materiality questions that flatness in a variety of other ways. First of all, they are installed in a chapel, which gives them a spatiality that is different from painting hung on a flat wall. The small chapel with its semi round arch above suggests a depth that is different from the depicted one in the paintings. This depth is materially there: one can see the bricks that make the walls protrude, and the niche recede. Also, their seriality differentiates them from the usual uniqueness of paintings. Again, as with the sculptural installations, it takes a second, longer and closer look to see the differences among these paintings. Once we take, or give them that time, we notice that all these figures, or busts, harbour frightened faces, open mouths, eyes looking sideways as if to compel us to follow their gazes and see where the danger lurks. The hands are actively pushing the head into a knot, as if incapable of staying straight. But then, they are not identical at all. For, most importantly, these hundred figures, similar and different, are all hand-made, painted with the artist’s fingers. That mode of painting leaves a trace, a finger print, which adds a layer to the spatiality of the installation. A finger print is an index, which points to someone else, now absent, but whose trace remains embedded in the layer of pigment.
Through these material and spatial details, this work participates in what I have contended above Rico’s sculpture does: raise questions, confuse our preconceptions, compel bodily as well as affective movement, and activate our wish to understand. But that understanding is not an intellectual exercise (only). Here, I consider the aesthetic aspect of this art. Integrating body and mind, this worksolicitsan understanding in the aesthetic sense as developed by mid-eighteenth-century philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten. To squeeze a 900-page treatise written in Latin into a single sentence: for him, aesthetics is based on an experience of three aspects: 1) binding 2) through the senses 3) in public space. These three aspects work together. This view contributes to the value of, specifically, exhibitions as the arena of the thought-image of the contemporary. Baumgarten published his Aesthetica in 1750. Aesthetic: rather than an academic philosophical discipline, which was Baumgarten’s context, I am taking it on as an effect-/affect-oriented, shared experience. An art exhibition would then be the most characteristic instance of a site where such experiences are facilitated. But the condition for this to happen is the effectivity of the art as aesthetic in Baumgarten’s triple sense. In this respect, the sensorial aspect of his view of aesthetics is key. This is why I began this reflection with the idea of active, hysterical material. The disgust that the self-portrait of El Soplador seems to emanate is not an expression of disgust but an effect that cannot leave the viewer indifferent; an affect. Similarly, the hundred figures in Nocturno de Apalancados do not express but convey their terror….

Thinking, Seeing, Taking Away:
Lidó Rico’s Strategies ofActivating Sculpture
Mieke Bal

Open the door and enter the space, look around, and the process happens: you are visiting art on display. Upon entering the Sala Veronicas in Murcia during the tenure in 2021 of the exhibition“Tu Vuelo, Mis Alas”,(your flight, my wings), of works by the prominentSpanish artist Lidó Rico (1968), many different sensations produce a sense of surprise, even dumbfounding. As a result, many distinctive questions pop into your mind. The title suggests the artist is going to take you on a trip; through the air, perhaps, with his wings as the motor. Transport of a poetic kind. And indeed, he does: he takes you on a flight through the landscapes of sculpture. But before you realize that, flabbergasting confusions already speak to you. Hence, the flight under his wings is a dialogue; an intellectual-artistic conversation, whether or not the artist is present during your visit. For, at any rate, his works are there, and they do the speaking. To sum these perplexities up, the simple question “what is this?” will have to do for now. My commentary takes that simple but fundamental question as its starting and end point. In answer to this question I will consider different works, aspects, and thoughts that together constitute this exhibition. They all speak to you, and compel you to speak back.
If we need a genre label in the way the artworld tends to categorize artworks, this artist is a sculptor – there is no way around that. But the work as exhibited here questions everything we know, or think we know about the art of sculpture – about sculpture as art.And yet, it all circles back to those presumptions which were safely ensconced in our intellectual baggage when we arrived. It does so in a convoluted way, so that you end up with a sense of relief – yes, this is sculpture after all. But oh man – after the flight on or under the wings of Lidó, the art of sculpture will never be the same again. For, during the trip we have learned to think, question, and discover the art of seeing anew. In this article I will bring up some of those questions, uncertainties, hesitations – in short, wonderments. My answers will always be provisional, expressions of my own doubts. But what I hope to convey is the incredible gain we can glean from encountering art through the trembling steps of not-knowing. And that is what Lidó’s art/sculpture gives us, as a gift we can take home and cherish for life. Dare to doubt, to acknowledge your ignorance, and you will exit the space, event, experience, as a different person…

“TU VUELO MIS ALAS”
LIDÓ RICO
IGLESIA DE VERÓNICAS
12 de febrero – 18 de abril 2021

Bajo el título “Tu vuelo mis Alas” el artista Lidó Rico inaugura en la Sala Iglesia de Verónicas su última producción artística. Un total de nueve piezas de diferentes formatos y técnicas reflexionan sobre el estatus del hombre contemporáneo en la sociedad actual. “Tu vuelo mis Alas” supone un viaje sin límites ni concesiones al interior más enigmático, sombrío y complejo del ser humano. Bajo un mismo eje argumental siempre referido al cuerpo humano, la exposición se convierte en una azarosa travesía que nos desborda a cada encuentro, porque de manera instantánea el hilo narrativo de la muestra conecta y sumerge al espectador en un inquietante universo plagado de referencias vinculadas al más rabioso presente. De las diferentes piezas, rezuman temáticas que se articulan entre lo intrigante, la sorpresa, lo desconocido, la incomunicación, la soledad, el desconsuelo, el miedo y la creencia. La piel de Lidó Rico logra transformar las paredes de Verónicas en una conmovedora secuencia de instantes congelados que esperan la presencia del espectador para ser inoculados y activados en su propia memoria. Mientras sobre el retablo central surgen escenas realizadas con la huella de sus propias manos, decenas de ángeles inundan otros muros a modo de insólitas y mágicas salpicaduras. A través del crucero de la iglesia donde se aloja un descomunal autorretrato del artista realizado en aluminio, llegaremos a la sala enrejada, allí, centenares de elementos cargados de una gran simbología conforman una perturbadora circunferencia que se expande desde el muro hacia lo más profundo de nuestro espíritu, originando en el espectador un fascinante viaje psicológico cuyo destino es un sobrecogedor universo cargado de ensoñación y misterio.
“Tu vuelo mis alas” propone un acercamiento a las claves del lenguaje plástico de Lidó Rico, figura central dentro de la nómina de artistas que actualmente investigan acerca del cuerpo como lugar de conflicto. Su obra solo puede ser pensada cabalmente tomando en cuenta su preocupación por el ser humano y el estatuto ambiguo de su identidad en la sociedad contemporánea. Los temas, los medios técnicos y los recursos retóricos que han jalonado su trayectoria han perfilado una indagación sobre los regímenes ético, estético y representacional del cuerpo, si bien su poética incorpora otras derivadas que se van desgranando a través de las obras que integran esta exposición. Su trabajo, se ubica bajo unos parámetros donde la dualidad entre sujeto y objeto, entre la performance y la escultura son captados en ese instante decisivo e irrespirable de ceguera, sordera e inmovilidad que supone bucear en la escayola, esta acción, no es solo un proceso que logra una huella tangible, sino que es parte esencial de la obra y, a su vez, plantea un audaz juego entre aquello que permanece oculto y lo que se muestra al espectador. La obra del escultor murciano se ha posicionado como una de las propuestas plásticas actuales más lúcidas a la hora de transcribir y amplificar la idea de la disolución de un concepto hegemónico acerca del ser humano contemporáneo, y todo ello elaborado, paradójicamente, desde la esfera de sus propias emociones.
Lidó Rico (Yecla, Murcia 1968), se Licenció en la Facultad de Bellas Artes de San Carlos de Valencia y en la Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de París en 1990, desde entonces y con más de 30 años de consolidada trayectoria profesional, ha realizado más de un centenar de exposiciones individuales por todo el mundo. Entre las numerosas exposiciones Colectivas, Ferias y Bienales en las que ha participado, destaca el haber sido seleccionado por el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores para representar a España en la XXIII Bienal de Alejandría en Egipto, siendo galardonado con el Gran Premio de dicha Bienal. Su obra forma parte de importantes colecciones públicas y privadas nacionales, como la del Museo Reina Sofía de Madrid, el Banco de España, el Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, el Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, La Caixa, la Colección Pilar Citoler o Ernesto Ventós, e internacionales como la Colección Miloud Chaabi de Marruecos, la de Shaikh Bin Khalifa de Emiratos Árabes o La Colección Perez Simón de México por citar solo algunas.

Thinking, Seeing, Taking Away:
Lidó Rico’s Strategies ofActivating Sculpture
Mieke Bal