In his exhibition, Pánico Esnob, at etHALL Gallery, Javier Peñafiel presents a collection of rough drawings, words,and interventions on paper, straight out of the sketchbook. The exhibition is an intimate experience where viewers are invited to intervene with the work and to make their own interpretations and conclusions. The strange illustrations from his sketchbook are dramatized by the act of ripping them out and hanging them on a wall, turning them from doodles to works of art and lending them a sculptural quality. Peñafiel is a poet whose work transmits an ironic and humorous critique of modern society.
The rugged papers are carefully attached to the wall with small magnets, corners curling in, giving them an air of fragility and transforming our perception of them from drawings to objects. The illustrations are delicate and mysterious. Strange, unidentifiable figures and shapes drawn purposefully with black ink, straight out of the artists imagination, beautiful in their detail and ambiguity. One series of drawings repeats the shape of the cross, evoking a crucified figure. The papers are presented as street advertisements: cut in vertical streaks from the bottom of the page, creating fringes, each of which is inscribed with a word or phrase, inviting the viewer to tear one off and keep the words for himself.
As well as these fringed objects, there is a large yellow paper covered with more of Peñafiel’s bizarrecryptic drawings and words, written and drawn in black and red ink. Peñafiel’s texts are almost as puzzling as his illustrations, reading such poetic and obscure messages as “island radiance,” “natural artifice,” “conjugated life,” and “intimacy deprived of life.” In addition to the drawings on paper there are two curious objects placed as shelves and mounted on the wall in varying heights, supporting various papers and items, one reading “Pánico Esnob,” the title of the exhibition.
Peñafiel eloquently describes his work as “written drawings and drawn texts.” A very fitting description given his characteristically delicate and deliberate lines. He is most interested in stimulating our sense of touch, and it is notable that everything is done manually, a gentle and cynical protest against the digital age. The exhibition is small but worth a visit, if you’re in the area don’t hesitate to drop by.
Pánico Esnob can be seen at etHALL Gallery until the 14th of May 2015.