Juan García Sandoval. 2017

The exhibition before us, designed as an introduction to the work of this highly regarded artist, highlights the unceasing investigation of the body as a place of conflict which has been a constant element in his projects. Understanding Lidó Rico’s sculptural practice means getting to know his changes and transformations, which have remained constant over time and have been identified with his principles of the performative (the subject) and the sculptural (object), producing many and varied responses. His own nature and the way he approaches his craft and activity as a sculptor reflect an attitude to life and the world, and his concept of art makes him a game-changing figure who is constantly growing. Many of his works struggle with his own opposition to certain realities and with his view of the contemporary world, where we live in a society whose capacity for existence and priorities of life are seriously deteriorating.

Lidó Rico believes in the power of contemporary art to frame questions and seek answers on the nature of human beings and the inherent mysteries of their existence; his works are like devices that provide us with arguments to shape our attitude to life, while posing questions in an attempt to shake us up and make us think, becoming a vehicle for ideas and emotions. They address the myth of humanity’s existence, the kind that speak of the human adventure and reflect the nature of humankind, which after thousands of years has scarcely changed. To Lidó we are all Prometheus, because we are chained to the earth where we have to pursue our destiny, and he, in his artistic idiom, interrogates the life and the very existence of contemporary individuals.

Corpus draws together a whole range of works produced from the early 1990s to 2015 and invites us to reflect on the inimitable and unlimited expressiveness he continues to develop in his sculptures, manifested here in articulated compositions with volumes and forms which make him unique. The show reveals one of his aims, which has always been to advance on his previous work, seeing it as a renewal that breaks with the past, although the current work has ceased to be present. Lidó plunges into his world of sculptural thoughts and brings out new pieces which resignify all that has gone before.

A remarkable feature of Lidó Rico’s work is the use of his own body (head, arms, torso, and so on), so that he, the subject, becomes his own working tool, through processes of immersing parts of his body in substances, a ritual that in order to arrive at the final result requires much sacrifice along the way to obtaining the mould — they are processes of pain and vulnerability — with a force that drives him to tell us about something. This is the essence of his performative act and he expresses it sculpturally, between the subject and the object, giving rise to sculptures in polyester resin and bronze, among other materials. His work is an exploration of the representational treatment of the body, consisting of memories and present moments transformed into sculptures with volume; it is sculpture as something autobiographical, where he takes the measure of art and life, life as an inexhaustible source of artistic material.

He leaves his mark, with his hands, just as prehistoric humans once made their imprint on the walls of caves: ancestral signs, the hands, the thumb and fingers, with their positive or negative images. From his first beginnings in sculpture Lidó has been reviving this binary digital code, which constitutes the first of all forms; it is the earliest ancestor of representation, before that of the body itself, picking out an aura, to recall the French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman: the symbolic and material representation of the handprint. Lidó’s work lies within the dialectic relationship of this “aesthetic homoeopathy”, this primitive cannibalism, following the laws of likeness, matricial and gestural aspects of the traces of the dialectic of form, and within the most precious distant legacy present in the series Sermons et demeures (1992) and Concession à perpétuité (1992); the containers, vessels full of fingers, are glass urns condensing energy through accumulation, votary offerings with a ritual meaning. These series contain the first moulds of his fingers and hands as a model for his own work; they are meditations on what is involved in working with his own corporeality, as in the continuation in Pedestal Hand (1997), holding light bulbs and lenses, lenses that question reality. Each object comes from an original mould of its own; they are extremities in various postures, emerging from the wall or standing on a table, in resin, with objects encapsulated inside them, involving a range of manipulations based on various aesthetic and conceptual approaches, in which we discover how reality is subverted. These series are a continuation of the investigations developed in Raison d’être (1990), in the form of collage, produced using three-dimensional objects and waxes, and the Torsos (1991) in paraffin wax and fu and/or cloth, which introduce us to the earliest works

Lidó Rico conveys a conscious message in his work about his concerns and emotions, his perception of the world, his feelings for the environment around him. There is an endless variety of social, political, personal or simply aesthetic themes in his works. This world beats within the images he introduces into them; they are images you have to see close up, narratives that form part of his task, rich in symbolism. These are works with narrative structures, using images taken from the Internet or from magazines, as in the series of blocks (1996–2005) and the series in glass (1993–1995), in which he includes hair from family members. The series Anonymous (2007) and La notte stellata (2009) are made up of heads in resin, glass and collage, as is Atmospheres (2009), in the form of little spheres. In these creations he recontextualises the objects used and gives them a new meaning. In Lidó Rico’s works, following Marcel Duchamp’s example, it is the viewer who has to reconstruct the content, with its references and quotations, not a passive viewer merely looking, but an active, critical viewer who takes a central role by bringing part of his or her knowledge and experience to the task of evaluating the work.

He establishes a compromise in his work between the visual and the autobiographical; his investigations lead him to an interest in traces and records, and the objects that emerge from the filling are tangible conceptualisations of the dissolution of the subject. His work relates to the body, which has come to be understood as a place of intervention, a space of investigation for the visual arts and aesthetics. His art plays a rebellious role, in that it is used as a mechanism to express the inferiority of the organic to the inorganic. His works are full of subtlety, and also lead you to a certain feeling, a profound and intense raising of the voice. Lidó articulates a certain reality and his own moral indignation at the degradation of society, as in the compositions String Solo (1999) or Confined (2000), in which a figure trapped, with no escape, shouting through bars, speaks to us of isolation and despair, Omen (2002), foretelling a future event, Connecting (2003), a critique of a supremely information-rich, globalised society in which we are dramatically isolated, Phone Tapper (2004), on becoming obsessed with objects, in which an old needle, capable of turning into a conductor wire, acts as a detonator, or the series Stretchings (2010), where unease and anguish are transferred to the viewer, who on reaching this state really feels the force of his sculptures. In The Island (2015), a large tondo with the artist’s body shown in the centre, adorned with tiny scraps of a road plan like a jigsaw puzzle, giving the composition a conceptual content, speaks to us of survival and hope.

His expressive resources include a number of skulls, as primordial symbols of desire and decline, connecting with the vanitas genre and with the transitory nature of life, as in Thermophyles (2012), composed of several skulls with chains of small skulls hanging from them, or in Cluster Bombs (2009), bony cases which in turn protect and contain other much smaller skulls. Concepts such as oppression emerge through them, as in Professionary (2014), symbolic compositions of the immortal and the mortal, thought, presence or irreducible purity, the trace left by the body, the evidence that someone existed, now forever sleeping.

Lidó Rico’s sculptures encapsulate all these approaches, now analysed in the texts included in the catalogue. They are explorations in the field of the body, in which the prime element is the construction of expressive material, avoiding an indulgent representation of himself, as in Apnoeas (2015), or with a conceptual as well as aesthetic twist, like the faces with their mouths shut with zips in Mute (2013), untold dialogues of happiness, love, sex and death, the slavery of silence, or in Paraments (2015), formed from wood (chair backs), a piece that narrates the metaphor of man, with leaps into the void between parts of the work, without knowing what you are going to find. These groups are reproduced serially and supported by an audio track to establish a sensory connection with the viewer.

Aeoluses (2014) consists of self-portraits multiplied and dotted across a panel, harbouring a horde of memories: faces that turn on themselves, formed from leaves that blow each other, as if in a series of encounters; they are dialogues the author sets up with nature, with the lord of the wind, compositions made from leaves collected over a period of years in his home town of Yecla. In When the Body Wants to Remain (2014), the artist’s upper body is overrun by the secrets of mother earth; it is the imprint of his body, like an epidermis covering the entire surface of the pieces, memories of time and flesh.

Each sculpture has its own imprints and gestures that make it unique, as in Trilobites (2015) or Back (2015). In Genesis (2015), the only piece in the show cast in bronze, every detail of the installation is a separate sculpture; its volumes in space speak of human presence, and imaginary lines connect them in the void, depicting absence and presence. It is a composition with a narrative approach, a manifesto on how art must necessarily be self-generated.

Lidó Rico has an exceptional understanding of classical systems of measuring space and of insertion as subject into the sculpture. He creates essentially Baroque stagings in which he places dozens of heads and torsos in various attitudes, a testimony to the decline of the classical model and at the same time an area of conflict on what it means to inhabit a present based on the hegemony of rationalism. The Last Supper (2011) and You can’t imagine how happy you make me feeling you beside me (2005/6) are installations that delimit emotional anatomy, scenes that narrate and express the schizophrenia that inhabits symmetrical spaces, with pigmented or neutral resins which accentuate the effects of scale. Lidó Rico creates tension in his projects; they are friezes and metopes with classical roots which emulate the clamour of ancient stones, of Trajan’s column or the triumphal arches of Septimius Severus or Constantine in the eternal city, and incorporate his poetics with many nuances, narrating his stories in the social isolation of the postmodern world.