We are working on a new gallery project, provoked by an invitation from Spanish artist Núria Güell – who has commissioned us to make a new work, in response to one of her previous projects, as a contribution and intervention into a section of her forthcoming retrospective that she is calling a ‘retrospective in the third person’.
We are picking up on aspects of the 2018 work Una película de Dios (A godly tale) that Núria did with a group of teenagers caught up in sexual trafficking and abuse in Mexico – who she asked to curate an exhibition of colonial-period religious paintings, drawn from various national collections, selecting images that resonated with their own personal understandings… Which they then used as a trigger and context for personal articulations of elements of their own experience.
For our part, Rosa and I have selected a single 17th century European depiction of Santa Àgueda (aka Santa Agate) currently held in the collection of the Museu Belles Arts Valéncia – one of the particular narratives of female martyrdom selected by the participants of the original project – and are considering the object of the painting not just as a physical trace of the context it was made ‘in’, but also as a physical combination of fragments of the material world it was made ‘from’.
We are commissioning a local painter to make as faithful a copy of the painting as they can, in terms of both its appearance and construction, as a way to unpick and explore the physical materials it consists and is composed of. We are following a particular focus on the pigments of the paint and colour itself – which include limestone, soil, animal bone, lead, mercury ore, lapis lazuli, cochineal, etc – the uses and combinations of which inevitably begin to embody the trade routes, extractions and status of resources made available by European colonial expansions of the period…
untitled sketch, digitally modified detail of the painting Santa Àgueda, c.1635-1640, Naples, Stanzione – Mike Brookes 2021