Reuse, revisit, recycle, rethink … Rescuing old spaces from oblivion and offering them a new life, although this is ephemeral, is a recurrent practice in contemporary art. There are many examples, but the exposure that the American Julian Schnabel presented in 1988 in the old barracks of Carmen in Seville, in which his large paintings on tarpaulins of military trucks and rings of boxing were hung in a half-ruined building of the fourteenth century, marked the then young artist David Colinas (Leonese, 57 years old). Three decades later, the artist has occupied the facilities of Pozo Julia, a mine abandoned in 1991, in Fabero (León), to turn it into a "lay monastery" with the exhibition Coal hills.
"I've always wanted to take art out of the spaces in which it is usually shown and Well Julia, with an industrial architecture totally austere and emaciated by the passage of time, it is the ideal place. I could not have dreamed of another better place to show my creatures ", reflects David Colinas, who has hung his works in all spaces, including the toilets of the workers, the" facultative ", the lamp shop or the dressing rooms of the miners.
"All these compartments, painted with faded cement, remind me of the desolate aspect of the famous Alcatraz prison (in the San Francisco bay and which can be visited), but also the cells of the convent of San Marcos, in Florence, with frescoes of Fra Angelico It is a place that overwhelms and invites meditation, "says Colinas as he watches his works multiply in the bathroom mirrors of the technicians while Gregorian chants sound.
His works, at first sight abstractions with attractive tangles of color, are populated by characters with thick strokes and primary colors that pile up in an apparent disorder, but which come out as the spectator pays more attention. What Colinas defines as "romantic neoexpressionism" and what he has been doing since the beginning of the eighties has been approaching a carefree figuration in which his characters, real and fantastic animals, masks and humans as schematic as those of cave paintings, have gained prominence in recent years. "A constellation of signs that constantly claim us, being about to crystallize completely, although they finally remain in a dormant state, which animates the surface as something to be deciphered, a scene that is almost hastily subjected to the order of representation, a hieroglyph, a scheme, an unfinished map … ", the art critic Óscar Alonso Molina writes in the catalog.
Colinas, who in the eighties and nineties spent long periods in Seville, now lives between Madrid and Vejer de la Frontera (Cádiz), where he has his studio, from which series like Temptations, Antruejos, Primaria Y Coal, the latter created specifically for Pozo Julia and in which small texts appear.
The sample, which can be seen until August 20, includes 86 works made in the last three years, on recycled cardboard and some large format (300×190 centimeters). It occupies something more than 4,000 square meters: all the facilities on the surface of the deposit. The visit, in which mining and art coexist naturally, begins in the compressor room from where the tower can be seen with the two cages in which miners and ore climbed and descended.
The Pozo Julia complex, donated by the company Antracitas de Fabero to the City Council, is open to the public since 2007 with a guided tour by retired miners and Yolanda Robles, daughter of a miner, and which includes the simulation of the down to a gallery. The facilities had previously been used as an exhibition hall, since in 2015 the sculptor Tomás Bañuelos, vice dean of Students of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Complutense of Madrid, promoted the project Cian-m (Interpretation Center Art, Nature and Mining), in which the Universidad Complutense and the City Council of Fabero collaborate. The Cian-m offers summer workshops – this year, from 1 to 13 July – taught by painters Antonio López and Felix de la Concha and the sculptor Bañuelos. The courses, for which scholarships are also offered, end each summer with an exhibition in the gray spaces of the old mine.
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