Sala Rekalde

Isabel Garay

10 Feb - 04 Jun 2017

Isabel Garay, exibition view
© sala rekalde
10 February – 04 June 2017

• Sala Rekalde is hosting the retrospective exhibition of the work of Isabel Garay (Muskiz, Bizkaia, 1946 – Santander, 2016) which covers the production of the artist over four decades, from the 1980s to last year.
• The career of Isabel Garay was exemplary. From the statues in refractory clay in the 1980s to the glass and aluminium recombinable modules of the 2000s, she tirelessly experimented in sculpture and painting, and perfectly mastered each of her advances.
• Even though Isabel is fundamentally known as a sculptor, drawing and painting on paper were always an important part of her life: pencil drawings, pastel drawing, sketches for the variations of her series, landscape pastels and, finally, large pastel paintings based on formal abstraction, that resonate with her modular compositions.
• The exhibition includes around 40 works including sculptures and work on paper, featured in a catalogue that has been published for the occasion with texts by Hubert Besacier, a French curator, lecturer and an expert on Isabel Garay’s work.

Isabel Garay worked as an artist for just over 40 years. Yet, it was in the mid-1980s when her sculpture work reached its full maturity. Isabel started out modelling figures in refractory clay that would, gradually, shift from being anthropomorphic in shape (1985-1987) to architectural forms and then increasingly become more geometric and abstract (1988-1989) when she started working with a new material, weathering steel.

In 1990, a fundamental and decisive mutation -the concept of a serial and modular sculpture– occurred. With Barras y estrellas, the artist alternated clay modules and steel modules of equal size and shape, which allowed her to multiply at will the assemblies and reposition the elements in as many other sequences.

With the series Sobre triángulos (1991), the terracotta element became a simple insert in steel module compositions and totally disappeared from Génesis (1995) onwards.

For the series Aire armado (Aire armado I, 1993, Aire armado II, 1994), the module designed using reinforcing rods are empty quadrilaterals where only the edges remain, allowing the sculpture to leave the ground to create constructions in space.

In the series Fugas (1995), Isabel Garay continued to use reinforcing rods whose surface was silver or gold coated to produce works that recall both painting and sculpture.

Colour had been the one provided by the material (rusty steel or terracotta) up until then and light only intervened to highlight the volumes. From the series when Isabel turned to polished or anodised aluminium, (Módulo y materia, 2000) then to coloured glass modules (Aluminio y vidrio, 2012, Color y forma, 2014), light became a component of the sculpture.

Throughout that time, Isabel Garay did not cease to draw and paint, showing a mastery of depicting figures and minimalist rigour. Strongly attached to the territory that runs from Vizcaya –where she was born– to Cantabria –where she lived–. Isabel continued to draw its landscapes.

In her last series of pastel paintings (El cielo y su geometría, 2012-2014), she worked on capturing the colours and changing movements of the Atlantic sky to then produce a second part of the diptych where those colours are reorganised in strictly geometric compositions.

By comparing these works with the sequence layout of stained glass, it can be then seen that Isabel Garay, at the end of her career as an artist, managed to find a perfect coherence between her painting activities and her searching in the field of sculpture.

Given that a retrospective exhibition must provide an account of the creation of a life and that that creation is a whole, but also that, from the 1990s, the series occurred in tandem and that her models sometimes inter-combine, we preferred to opt for a synthetic vision of the work rather than for a chronological journey in order to showcase its wealth and its internal logic at the same time.
Hubert Besacier

After training as a painter in the early 1960s, under the aegis of Aníbal García, she tried her hand at stone and wood carving, before taking her first steps in the use of fired clay in Miguel Vázquez’s workshop in 1977. Without giving up on her interest in painting, she acquired a good grounding in modelling and high temperature clay firing. The first exhibition of her works, entitled Esculturas, was held at the former Museo de Bellas Artes de Santander in January 1981.

From then onwards, her career was marked by numerous exhibitions. The solo ones include those held at the Marcelino Botín Foundation, (Santander 1985), the Edurne Gallery (Madrid) and the Nicolás Piñole Museum (Gijón 1986), the Jesús Otero Foundation (Santillana del Mar, Cantabria 1998) and, finally, at the Santander and Cantabria Contemporary and Modern Art Museum (2016). Among the group exhibitions, special mention should be made to Punto de partida. Arte en Cantabria 1980-1990, Palacio de Sobrellano, (Comillas Cantabria 1995), Outra mirada. Santiago de Compostela, travelling through Galicia and Portugal (1999) and Escultura en Cantabria, Marcelino Botín Foundation (Santander 2000). Isabel's work was also a regular at international and national contemporary art fairs.