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GLENDA LEÓN. Music of forms

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Dates: 
18 June 2021 - 21 November 2021
Place: 
1st floor B1 Gallery and Peripheral Gallery
Hours: 
Tuesday to Saturday (inc. holidays) from 11am to 2:30pm and from 5pm to 9pm. Sunday from 11am to 2:30pm
Production: 
MEIAC, Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo / MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo
Curator: 
José Jiménez

With the collaboration of:

After travelling to the MEIAC Badajoz, Spain, Glenda León arrives in Vigo with the exhibition Music of forms, which completes the MARCO’s exhibitions program for this season. The project has been possible thanks to collaboration with the MEIAC, which was –just as the MARCO– a former prison. This fact is directly related with some of the works present in the show.

Glenda León (Havana, Cuba, 1976), who studied classical ballet, philology and art history in Havana, began to exhibit in 1999. This is what she herself pointed out in 2013, in an interview: “Music has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a child. That is why I wanted to be a choreographer for many years. Then I realised that the main component of the choreographic ideas of that era was the visual”. That is the core of this project and of Glenda León’s work: the synthesis between sounds and the visual

Glenda León’s proposal for the MARCO is articulated in two spaces that trace a tour through key works in the artist’s career –installations, series of drawings, sculptures, photographs, work on paper, in situ installations– which span from 2008 till today. They combine different techniques and supports. The assembly and arrangement of the works have profited the special characteristics of the museum rooms, and they are displayed in subtle dialogue with those spaces. Hence, the oeuvres are adapted to the dimensions, layout and height of the galleries including a work specifically produced for this project, Emotional Garden (2011 2021), which draws a longitudinal line along the central podium at the first room.

En palabras del comisario de la muestra, José Jiménez, “there is a dynamism that springs from the dialogue with the forms of sound, of music, which has been around since the time of the cultural invention of art, in Classical Greece. And it is also in this context where the relationship between musical sounds and the movements of the stars is first perceived, with what Pythagoras called “harmony of the cosmos” or “music of the spheres”. The music of the spheres brings us to the music of this world: from up above to down below, and from down below to up above. These are central issues that help us place the career and artistic work of Glenda León”.

Exhibition catalogue


With the occasion of Glenda Leon’s solo show, the MARCO Foundation and the MEIAC have published a catalogue that includes texts by the artist and by the curator, José Jiménez, beside information and images of the works exhibited.

Learning activities

With the support of: Obra Social “la Caixa”

From 14 September, 2021
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 1:30pm / For booking please call +34 986 113900 Ext. 100/ +34 986 113908

Summer Workshops for Children

With the support of: Obra Social “la Caixa”

From 29 June to 29 July, 2021
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 12.00 to 2pm / For booking please call. +34986 113900 Ext. 100/ +34986 113908

Information & guided tours


The exhibition staff is available for any questions or information, as well as regular guided tours:

Daily at 6pm
‘A la carte’ group tours, please call +34 986 113904 / 113900 to book

Interactive routes through the Vigo App

The new interactive route system through the ‘Vigo App’ allows visitors to access all kinds of content about the exhibition (videos, images, specific information about the works), either in the space itself through the beacons or bluetooth devices located in the exhibition rooms, or anywhere else, following the route from the mobile screen once the application has been downloaded , or from your computer through Concello de Vigo’ website.

 

Glenda León (A Habana, Cuba, 1976), que estudou ballet clásico, filoloxía e historia da arte na Habana, comezou a expoñer en 1999. A propia artista sinalaba nunha entrevista en 2013: “A música foi unha fonte de inspiración para min dende noviña. Por iso quixen ser coreógrafa durante moitos anos. Entón decateime de que o ingrediente principal destas ideas coreográficas da época era o visual". Ese é o núcleo deste proxecto e da súa obra; a síntese entre os sons e o visual. 
En palabras do comisario da mostra, José Jiménez, “hai un dinamismo que brota do diálogo coas formas do son, da música, que está xa presente dende a época en que se produxo a invención cultural da arte, na Grecia Clásica. E é tamén nese contexto onde se percibe a relación entre os sons musicais e os movementos dos astros, o que Pitágoras denominou “armonía do cosmos” ou “música das esferas”. A música das esferas lévanos á música deste mundo, no que vivimos: de arriba abaixo, e de abaixo arriba. Son estas cuestións centrali para situar a traxectoria e o traballo artístico de Glenda León”.

Artists

Glenda León


Glenda León
is a Cuban-Spanish artist born in Havana in 1976. Her work has received awards such as The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and residencies such as the Couvent des Recollets, Paris and the Fonderie Darling, Montréal. Her work also forms part of important public collections such as those of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Perez Art Museum Miami; Musée des Beaux Arts du Montréal; Art Gallery of Ontario-AGO, Toronto; Hammer Museum, Los Ángeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana.

She began her studies of Fine Art at the age of 12 and began to exhibit professionally in 1999. Before that, she studied Classical Ballet and Philology at the University of Havana, finally graduating in Art History. In 2007, she completed the Masters in New Media Art at the New Media Academy in Cologne.

She was part of the Cuban Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale with her work Music of the Spheres (2013). She has also been invited to the Havana Biennial, the SITE Santa Fe Biennial, the II Jafre Biennial, the Dakar DAK’ART 2018 Biennial, the Off Biennale Cairo: Something Else II and Juntos Aparte 2018 -BienalSur, Cúcuta.

Other group exhibitions she has taken part in took place in spaces such as the Museum of Modern Art - MoMA and the Brooklyn Museum, New York; CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Bronx Museum; Centre d’Art Contemporain Villa du Parc, Annemasse; Badischen Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; City Art Museum Ljubljana; The Mattress Factory, Pittsburg; Rhode Island School of Design - RISD Museum, Rhode Island; Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Canada; MART Museum, Rovereto, Italy; CIFO, Miami; Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdansk; Musée des Beaux - Arts de Montréal; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and De Appel, Amsterdam.

She has presented her work individually at the Visual Arts Development Center-CDAV, Havana; Le Plateau Espace Expérimental, Paris; Château des Adhémar, Montélimar; Matadero Madrid; Atlantic Center of Modern Art - CAAM, Gran Canaria; and the Metropolitan Museum Manila, among other spaces.

Her work has been published in various magazines, catalogues and newspapers, such as Bomb Magazine, Art Nexus, Artforum, Flash Art and Artecubano.

http://www.glenda-leon.com/

Curatorial text

The forms of sound

José Jiménez

What is the root, the starting point, for creating visual art works...? It is the process of configuring forms. Either statically or dynamically, and taking into account that the possibilities of dynamism have been intensely accentuated through new, electronic and later digital, means of representation.

But there is a dynamism that springs from the dialogue with the forms of sound, of music, which has been around since the time of the cultural invention of art, in Classical Greece, in a period that can be dated between the 8th and 5th century BC. And it is also in this context where the relationship between musical sounds and the movements of the stars is first perceived, with what Pythagoras called “harmony of the cosmos” or “music of the spheres”.

The music of the spheres brings us to the music of this world: from up above to down below, and from down below to up above. And this is something that is felt intensely in Cuba. Seeing and hearing the works of Glenda León always leads me to the literary work of Alejo Carpentier, who said about himself: “The music I have within me.” His musical training led him to write numerous texts on music, and it is important to note that, unlike European music, he characterised Latin American music by its intense fusion.

Music also flows directly in his novels, in his narrative texts. It is something that we can especially appreciate in his short novel Concert Baroque, written between Havana and Paris in 1974. It is a musical journey set in 1733, travelling from Coyoacán (Mexico) to Cuba, Spain, Venice (during Carnival) and Paris. The narration includes the meeting, in Venice, between Vivaldi, Scarlatti and Handel, where a long-lost Vivaldi opera is performed, and also describes how, in contrast to European Baroque music, the music of a black slave (Filomeno) emerges, taking us to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet. The text flows, at all times, with the movements of the words as if they were sounds, and with movement in time, through the journey.

These are central issues that help us place the career and artistic work of Glenda León, who studied classical ballet, philology and art history in Havana, and began to exhibit in 1999. This is what she herself pointed out in 2013, in an interview: “Music has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a child. That is why I wanted to be a choreographer for many years. Then I realised that the main component of the choreographic ideas of that era was the visual”.

That is the core: the synthesis between sounds and the visual. And, from this, both the visual and sonorous correspondence between the stars and the Earth where we humans live: a call to attention to the importance of nature, which is increasingly threatened. These themes are articulated in this exhibition of works by Glenda León: Música de las formas (Music of forms), organised into three sections: I. Tierra y cielos (Earth and heavens), II. La espiral del tiempo (The spiral of time), and III. Ver la música (Seeing music).

A contemporary creator, Glenda León is fully a multimedia artist. She uses the most diverse media and expression techniques: objects, sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, artist books and videos.

Now, in this wide array of expressive modalities there is a common thread that unifies her proposals: the articulation of her pieces flows through the musical registers with which the works are structured. In these works we can observe melodic imprints, or contrasts and variations, with which the visual forms acquire an inner sound, rhythm and projection.

What is a “form”...? If we go back to the origins of our cultural tradition we have to refer to Plato, who elaborated the philosophical concept of form [εἶδος, eídos], going from what would be the aspect of something that we see to the substantive nucleus that gives unity to multiple dimensions.

In the specific field of music theory, Leonard B. Meyer (1956, 74) points out: “forms are essential aspects of style, alternative probability groups, each of which displays its own special probability relations within the overall stylistic context. And like the perception of the more generally constant aspects of style and the response to them, the understanding of form is learned, not innate.” He concludes: “The concept of form implies abstraction and generalisation”.

And on “the nature of the form” he indicates: “The understanding of a series of physically differentiated stimuli that make up a model or a form is the result of the human mind’s ability to relate, in an intelligible and meaningful way, the constituent parts of the stimulus or the series of stimuli to each other. For the impression of form to emerge, an order must be perceived in which individual stimuli are transformed into parts of a larger structure and perform distinguishable functions within that structure.” (Meyer, 1956, 169).

What Glenda León gives us in her works is a set of open forms that play with the correspondence between different ways of feeling and knowing: words, sounds, scores with drawings and visual registers, correspondence between heaven and earth, the passage of time... It is we, who are looking, who have to display a capacity for internalisation, to bring the plurality of formal registers to a specific area of significance. You have to go from simply looking to seeing, to perceiving the unity of form. Thus, the senses lead us to knowledge.

In Glenda León’s plastic forms, always in dialogue with sounds and texts, the features of another great Cuban writer also shine: José Lezama Lima (1980, 59), positioned as the nucleus of poetic knowledge: “Poetic knowledge is separated from dialectical knowledge, which only seeks to mirror its identity.” To know poetically is to see the reverse, the reverse of things. For Lezama (1981, 129), poetry is a transcendent dimension: “The essences expressed by the imaginary ages”, an articulation of “the impossible” over “the possible image”. But its itinerary is not simple, but rather labyrinthine. Its beginning is in the dissolution of the body itself to convert it into form: “Dissolve our body so that it becomes form.” (Lezama Lima, 1980, 68).

Eye and body venture like this in the image: “The eye creates the figure; the night expresses itself, falls on us by image. The eye feels a passive pride when it extends into the figure. Our body feels possessive pride when it penetrates the image of the night.” (Lezama Lima, 1980, 57). And poetic knowledge does not come freely, it is a difficult act of conquest. The poem is “a resistant space between the progression of the metaphor and the curfew of the image.” (Lezama Lima, 1981, 129).

The imaginary ages, the image as a secret channel of historical time, are only interviews in that double sphere of resistance in which bodies have to bear the nothingness that surrounds them and the products of culture: forms or figures, the retractable flow of images: “Just as the body supports the surrounding nothingness, the figures are forced to counteract the flow of images.” (Lezama Lima, 1980, 53).

Latin America, including Cuba, gives us the vision of difference, a result of the intense fusion that characterizes the best of human life. And in that context, Glenda León’s sound forms visually lead us to the deepest point of poetic knowledge: sky, flower, time, mirror, stars, clouds, political world, passing and forms of time, tears of transit, moments, power chair, music of the revolution, metamorphosis, consciousness and music of the spheres. The universe, here and in the heavens, as the music of forms.

Bibliographic references

Alejo CARPENTIER (1974): Concierto barroco; Siglo XXI, México. 8th edition: Siglo XXI, Madrid, 1979.
José LEZAMA LIMA (1980): La dignidad de la poesía; Versal, Barcelona.
José LEZAMA LIMA (1981): Imagen y posibilidad; Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana.
Leonard B. MEYER (1956): Emotion and Meaning in Music; University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Trans. Es. and foreword by José Luis Turina: Emoción y significado en la música; Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 2001.

Artist's text

El tiempo es un sonido que no escuchamos

Glenda León

Coexistimos con una ausencia que no somos capaces de escuchar; una suerte de añoranza por un estado de libertad plena, por una sensación de pertenencia al mundo. El arte puede actuar como recordatorio de ese estado; de ese poder intrínseco pero escondido ya por tanto tiempo: de estar en armonía con nosotros y con la naturaleza; como una especie de alarma para andar más atentos por el mundo y verlo como si se viera por primera vez, con esa mirada privilegiada de un niño. Es hacer percibir lo imperceptible.

Como la magia, el arte es un acto de transformación, que en ocasiones se traduce en un simple hacer coincidir; mostrando la relatividad y las probabilidades de interconexión de las cosas; ordenando, con un poco de poesía, algún fragmento del caos al que pertenecemos. Es una manera de conocer el mundo; de entender y amar la esencia humana.

Esta exposición se termina de concebir en tiempos que sin duda pasarán a la historia. El tiempo del Coronavirus. Prácticamente todos los seres humanos de este mundo habrán experimentado lo que es estar confinado. Sin embargo, aun habiendo salido del confinamiento hay cosas que permanecen restringidas en nosotros: nuestros sentidos. Vivimos creyendo que miramos, escuchamos, olemos, palpamos, pero la verdad es que lo estamos haciendo a un nivel muy por debajo de nuestras capacidades. La forma en que hemos sido educados, la forma en que las sociedades están estructuradas y la vida citadina en sí misma, nos castran cada segundo este gran potencial. Para poder desarrollar una verdadera comprensión del otro, una verdadera tolerancia, y un real entendimiento del peligro que la Tierra corre gracias a nuestras acciones, es crucial sentir. Es, desde este sentir, que podemos verdaderamente conocer, y este conocimiento es lo que lleva a la verdadera libertad, es lo que lleva a acciones coherentes y con poder de transformación.

No es lo mismo que nos enseñen o que leamos sobre tolerancia, sobre el peligro de extinción de las especies, sobre el maltrato animal, a que sintamos el dolor de un animal encerrado con sólo mirarle a los ojos. No es lo mismo leer sobre amor que sentirlo.

Al romper con la realidad el arte tiene un rol importante en prepararnos para estar más abiertos al cambio; se establece un estado más flexible del ser, pues se alteran los caminos trillados de las conexiones neuronales. Así sucede cuando el espectador se sincroniza con un elemento natural (en mi caso a través del sonido de la respiración y de representaciones de paisajes naturales a través de diferentes materiales) o mediante la presentación de objetos surreales –con combinaciones de elementos nunca antes vistas.

En este proceso, el silencio y el sonido son como materiales que constantemente estoy transformando. En ocasiones, utilizo el sonido para esculpir una imagen; en otras, utilizo una imagen para dibujar el silencio. Me interesa el contenido latente del sonido (la huella que éste deja en nuestro cerebro, y en el cuerpo) que porta cualquier instrumento sonoro (o parte de él); y cómo se puede crear una imagen a partir de ello.

El silencio es precisamente un elemento fundamental en el camino hacia la visión y la escucha plenas. Es indispensable en el desconfinamiento de los sentidos. Y cuando esto suceda, cuando la ceguera y la sordera pasen, entonces cada elemento de la existencia podrá ser visto. Y experimentaremos cómo cada paso, cada sonido, cada aleteo de una mariposa y cada vida, ocupan un lugar crucial en el mundo y originan un sin número de efectos. Cada forma es una forma del tiempo.

Entonces sabremos que todo ese tiempo que hemos pasado sin sentir, es tiempo perdido. Pero reconocerlo es el inicio del camino. Camino que nos conducirá a la luz del silencio, desde donde podremos escuchar la música de las esferas.

Dirigir las Nubes

“Según un reconocido científico de física cuántica, está comprobado que, habiendo logrado el grado de concentración y voluntad necesarios, cualquier individuo puede llegar a dirigir las nubes. El evento ha ocurrido en distintos lugares del planeta pero ha sido pocas veces avizorado, ya que hoy día casi nadie mira con detenimiento al cielo. No obstante, muchas personas han identificado formas bastante precisas en las nubes, pero permanecen ignorando su peculiar procedencia”.