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Concha Martínez Barreto. Casa, 2023. Photo: courtesy MARCO/María Seoane
Concha Martínez Barreto. Casa, 2023 (detail). Photo: courtesy MARCO/María Seoane
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie Estratos (Niño durmiendo), 2020. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie Estratos (El túnel), 2020. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Nidos, 2023. Photo: courtesy MARCO/María Seoane
Concha Martínez Barreto. Los días, 2021-23 (detalle). Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie s/t 38, 2021-23. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie s/t 41, 2021-23. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie s/t 42, 2021-23. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie s/t 44, 2021-23. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie s/t 46, 2021-23. Photo: courtesy of the artist
Concha Martínez Barreto. Serie s/t 49, 2021-23. Photo: courtesy of the artist

CONCHA MARTÍNEZ BARRETO. At the Close of the Day


14 July 2023 - 14 January 2024
1st floor exhibition rooms (gallery B1 and perimeter space)
From Tuesdays to Saturdays (including bank holidays), from 11.00 a.m. to2.30 p.m. and from 5.00 to9.00 p.m. Sundays, from 11.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo. In collaboration with: Deputación de Pontevedra
Miguel Fernández-Cid

The oeuvre of Concha Martínez Barreto (Fuente Álamo, Murcia, 1978) is an intense reflection on the fragility of memory, self-identity and intergenerational connections, death and oblivion. Using different techniques and media she delves into the past, not in an impossible attempt to reconstruct what has been lost or an arid task of cataloguing, but as an exercise to express precisely the difficulty of recollecting, the importance of showing the remnants and traces left by time.

At the Close of the Day evokes a nocturnal time, understood as a place of solitude and removal of the superfluous, where the artist revisits the past, the hidden, our most primitive fears that are perhaps not so far removed from those of our childhood. All the works on display arouse fears and desires, affections and traumas: letters that are rewritten as they are erased; paintings that conceal more than they reveal; the nest imperceptibly amalgamated with poison; days and their gaps; birds desperately flapping their wings to avoid falling; the gazes of sleeping figures excavated in the depths of time, or the hut that is both a shelter and outdoors… They all allude to uncertainty and to how abandonment lives in the middle of the night.

This project, specifically conceived for MARCO, is the most ambitious of those in Martínez Barreto's career. As is customary in her exhibitions, it is structured in sections of pictorial, photographic and sculptural works. As regards painting, an essential part of her oeuvre, the newly created works form a narrative thread between all the displays.

Summer Workshops

In collaboration with: Fundación ”la Caixa”

From 4 to 28 July 2023
Times: Tuesdays to Fridays, from 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. (ages 3 to 6) and from 12.30 to 2.00 p.m. (ages 7 to 12)
Advance booking: tel. 986 113900 Ext. 100 / E-mail

School Programmes

In collaboration with: Fundación ”la Caixa”

Starting on 10 October 2023
Times: Tuesdays to Fridays from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
Advance booking: tel. 986 113900 Ext. 100 / 986 113908 / E-mail:

Children's Workshops

In collaboration with: Fundación ”la Caixa”

Starting on 14 October 2023
Times: Saturdays from 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. (ages 3 to 6) and from 12.30 to 2.00 p.m. (ages 7 to 12)
Advance booking: tel. 986 113900 Ext. 100 / E-mail:

Information and Guided Tours

Gallery staff are happy to answer questions and queries related to the exhibition.

Additional guided tours are available:

Daily at 6.00 p.m
'À la carte' group tours, by appointment: Tel. 986 113900 / 986 113908

Interactive maps via the Vigo App

The interactive maps system accessible on the Vigo App allows visitors to consult exhibition-related content (videos, images, information about the works on display), either via beacons or Bluetooth devices located in the galleries, or elsewhere inside the museum, via the map on the screen of your mobile phone after downloading the app, or on the Concello de Vigo website.


Concha Martínez Barreto

The oeuvre of Concha Martínez Barreto (Fuente Álamo, Murcia, 1978) is an intense reflection on the fragility of memory, self-identity and intergenerational connections, death and oblivion. Using different techniques and media she delves into the past, not in an impossible attempt to reconstruct what has been lost or an arid task of cataloguing, but as an exercise to express precisely the difficulty of recollecting, the importance of showing the remnants and traces left by time.

With a markedly autobiographical quality, her work is an exercise in nudity, in which the strange and enigmatic expose the incomprehensible and ineffable of life. Resorting to a poetics that describes how the past shapes our lives, the artist works as an archaeologist unearthing layers that had remained hidden, revealing the depth of time, wounds, love and, in short, the roots in which identity is anchored. Thus, her entire oeuvre becomes an inward gaze, an exploration of desire, fears and conflicts, somehow shaping an imaginary composed of all that we are and which we find difficult to reveal to ourselves.

Her recent exhibitions include the solo show Letters I didn't write (Charlie Smith London, 2020) and a fair number of group shows such as Art on Paper (Galería Víctor Lope, Amsterdam, 2023), VOLTA Basel (Galería Víctor Lope, Basel, 2023), Here, Now (Galería Víctor Lope, Barcelona, 2022), Lucha de gigantes (Fundación Casa de México, Madrid, 2022), Luxembourg Art Week (Galería Víctor Lope, Luxemburg, 2022), Taking Flight (Berkshire Botanical Garden, Massachusetts, 2021), Reencuentros (LAB-ART Studio, Barcelona, 2021), Estampa XXVIII (Galería Víctor Lope, Madrid, 2021), VOLTA Basel (Charlie Smith London, Basel, 2021), Mapa-Territorio-Región (Palacio de San Esteban, Murcia, 2021), and Estampa XXIX (Galería Víctor Lope, Madrid, 2021).

Artist's text

“In our night dreams, there is always a space which we
inhabit alone”.
Gaston Bachelard, The Earth and the Reveries of Rest

Over the course of my career, I've always brought the past into my work, as if I always had something to repair, exorcise or tether. I find it very difficult to speak of my oeuvre because apparently it only deals with silence, with the unutterable, or with what I only manage to hear in the stillness of the night. So the close of the day that gives the exhibition its title doesn't refer to the idea of an end, but to the onset of a time – a nocturnal or silent time – in which a number of things reappear: the past, childhood, fear, the occult, almost as if there were a moment in stillness where it were possible to tear a membrane behind which the most primitive fears and longings, perhaps not so far removed from those of our childhood, come to the surface.

‘Dear Baby, I have been coming down every night’, is the message I retrieve from old letters after having removed all that is superfluous in them. Similarly, night-time and solitude are where we divest ourselves of everything dispensable in order to delve into our deepest recesses. Pascal Quignard pointed out that the continuity of night is opposed to the discontinuity of days, that once the dreamer closes his eyes and surrenders to the night, he attains discontinuance. This seminal night is possibly what made our ancestors seek out the depths of caves to capture the images of their desires and fears, perhaps because only in darkness can dread and hope be summoned.

The image of the nest always walks with me, presumably because of my attraction to the dimness of caves. Yet the amalgamated nests in this project are more like series of breasts, vaginas or tombs that seem to speak to me at once about life and death. While the symbolism of the nest is usually related to intimacy and protection, the structure I've made in these nests – like those of aeroplanes, a sort of swallow – leads me to the idea of cradle-tomb broached by Gilbert Durand. “In every ‘wonderful grotto’ there is a bit of a ‘hideous cave’”, he argued, going on to speak of the need for a romantic will to consider the grotto as a refuge, as the symbol of the original paradise. In a broader sense, Gérard Wajcman points out in La casa, lo íntimo y lo secreto that a dwelling helps us create opacity, giving man the possibility of shadows and secrets. This is a very important image in my work as, in a figurative sense, I generate this opacity – hence shadows and secrets – in my paintings starting from photographs whose meaning remains concealed from me. The use of anonymous photographs of which I know nothing enables me to explain what I can't understand, what hasn't been assimilated, the indecipherable, the feared or the ineffable. To a certain extent, all my paintings include a struggle between opposites, between hiding and revealing, balance and trauma.

Something similar occurs in Nidos, where images of life and death, protection and fatality converge. In the interior of the work I spread a mixture of mud and a small measure of imidacloprid, that is lethal for birds as it affects their nervous system, producing considerable weight loss, lethargy and disorientation in barely a few hours, and even death after a few days of exposure. To quote David Lynch, “The house is a place where things can go wrong”. Danger doesn't only lie without, but can surface inside our homes, where the walls that appear to provide shelter can give way to those of oppression or tragedy.

The darkness of the house and its potential ability to isolate us is a recurring theme in my pieces. A classical poem included in the Spanish collection of ballads tells the story of a prisoner who only distinguishes day from night thanks to a bird that sings at dawn but was killed by a crossbowman. Sometimes I regard the home, the domestic sphere as the space that severs us from the outside world, where time seems to elapse in a different way to outside time. There is an attempt in Los días to establish a connection with the time of life that flows, as opposed to the time of intimacy and domesticity, that does not appear to pass or to do so at a very different pace. For years I've felt that days had no clear limits, that the texture of the time of the home, in all its density, had nothing to do with that of the non-stationary life outside. The truth is that this work is not an attempt to count the days, but to find order where there did not seem to be any. There is something restorative about seeking order in stories not experienced, in occurrences denied. In every story, there is something that ends on a specific day: a journey, a shipwreck (the latter very present in my work), a catastrophe … in short, times full of contests and events, times that draw to a close. This idea of an end reinforces my attempt to bring order to intimate time that has no apparent structure, where it can always be night, or else night can fall at any moment. In The Anthropological Structures of the Imaginary, Gilbert Durand states that 'In folklore the moment of nightfall, or sinister midnight, provokes terror: this is the time when malignant animals and infernal monsters take possession of bodies and souls.' For this author, the darkness of night is the first symbol of time, and in almost all primitive cultures, including Indo-European and Semitic cultures, time is measured by nights instead of days. But when nights succeed one another without order, time becomes difficult to measure.

In my search for stories, there are days with gaps of which I've been unable to find anything, days on which nothing has ended. These gaps are actually occupied by the words of Ramón Gómez de la Serna, that only glow in the dark: “He was so childlike that that he still believed that the rainbow meant that the storm was over”, as if in the void, by establishing a connection with our most primitive fears, we were able to feel nostalgia for an age – that of childhood – in which the past is not yet that important and problems do not seem to survive the voyage of the night. An age in which, at dawn, it would appear that every day could begin again from start.

In Arbolillo I return to the theme of the house and domesticity in all its ambivalence. The name of this work stems from a technique that is now banned, the arbolillo or birdlime tree, traditionally used by hunters to capture birds. The system was simple and as efficient as it was dramatic: an artificial tree would be placed in environments with few trees, and beside it a cage containing a songbird would be used as a decoy for others to perch on the birdlime tree. As its branches were actually heavy metallic twigs smeared with birdlime, any bird alighting there to rest would be stuck. Attempting to fly away, the bird would be unable to free itself because of the weight of the false twig, and would consequently fall to the ground. In this work I present heavy iron branches that have fallen to the floor from an old dead branch on which small drops of cut glass – where the twigs would seem to have split – are intended to express the fragility of all houses. Alongside the piece, video monitors arranged in the form of a triptych, a classical feature of mediaeval altarpieces, show birds struggling to escape the trap. Editing abundant video material ceded by a group of hunters, I dispense with the process of preparation of the trap to highlight the moments of landing and falling. While in other works such as Nidos I've addressed the subject of the house (house–nest–tree) as the place that despite seeming safe can turn hostile, here I go one step further and introduce the symbol of the fall, which I've used on other occasions. The dramatic fall of the birds appears as a sort of fatality, a struggle against fate: the place of shelter and rest becomes a trap that prevents their flight, dragging them down. In the videos the birds are seen in their agitated struggle to avoid losing their balance. A fall, or rather the possibility of falling, is no doubt one of the foremost causes of human distress that Bachelard relates to the symbols of darkness and anxiety. As observed by Durand following studies by Béjterev and Maria Montessori, we may establish that we are sensitive to falls from the moment we are born: “The sudden, abrupt movement imposed on the neonate by the midwife and the manipulations and violent variations in level that follow birth, are probably, together with the first experience of falling, ‘the first experience of fear’.” Thus, the fall seems to be embedded in the human unconscious and, not in vain, after having dreamt of a cliff or an abyss, do we wake up uneasy in the middle of the night fluttering desperately, like birds.

Besides falling, losing one's bearings is another primary concern. In this sense, my last work, Casa, is displayed at the end of the exhibition like a refuge in solitude. To paraphrase Bachelard in The Earth and the Reveries of Rest, the home is for us an obvious refuge … The illuminated house is the lighthouse of dreamt tranquillity. It is the central element of the tale of the lost child, in which the light in a distant window can be interpreted as salvation. And yet, in popular stories we often see that what lost children consider a refuge in fact conceals a threat. Once again, this is a work full of contradictions that confronts immensity and intimacy, beauty and sinisterness. The hut, that appears to be a shelter, might not actually contain anything at all – overwhelmed by the landscape – or might perhaps contain everything.

Time at home or at-homeness is something that has played an important part in my life. This is reflected to a certain extent in Los días, as I feel that home is where everyone gathers: “The house is the size of the world; better said, it is the world”, wrote Borges. When we approach the window of the hut, we discover the same house in miniature, unaware whether we are the observers or the observed. As a child, I also had a recurring obsession whenever a myriad of television sets appeared behind the newsreader in a mise en abyme, one inside the other and decreasing in size, until the loop soon became imperceptible although of course I knew that it was endless. I find Bachelard's idea of a small house inside a larger house helping us discover the first certainties of life, and relating it to the protection of the womb, relevant to this notion of repetition. For the French thinker, shelters are connected to the return to the mother: “all the resting places are maternal”. In turn, I associate his idea of the oneiric house with Walden's hut, a model for this work as it symbolises the archetype of retreat because, as Bachelard noted, our reverie wants its retreat house, which should be humble, peaceful, isolated”.

In contrast to the notion of the house as a space of protection, I find the image of the house repeated inside another house perhaps ad infinitum sinister, along the lines of Freud's conception. Behind the window of this refuge we don't find what we expected – a bed, a lamp, a fire – but the vastness of the world, the solitude of the forest and, in the centre, the same hut and the opaque mystery of what lies behind that other window where we make out a shadow. So this piece contains all the opposites that shape my work, although I may perhaps ultimately catch a glimpse of a more serene landscape that could perhaps express a search if not for peace, then at least for forgiveness, light or restfulness.

Francis Bacon said that children fear the night whereas grown-ups fear death, and yet we are never quite free of the former although, as Freud observed, “Concerning the factors of silence, solitude and darkness, we can only say that they are actually elements in the production of that infantile morbid anxiety from which the majority of human beings have never become quite free.” The night, understood as a place of silence and rest, is the place – undeniably very similar to art – where we may relate to that which has been avoided. It's the door to knowledge of our anxieties, sorrows, desires, fears or delusions and, funnily enough, perhaps nothing else casts more light on us.

Concha Martínez Barreto