The artists featured in the Monster exhibition deal in one way or another with hybrid beings. Creatures situated in neither side of the non human-human spectrum. Peter Vos often depicts animals that hold some degree of human expression, or humans along birds. The clear, meticulously drawn lines enhance the meditative character of Vos’ subjects, whose aloof pose and gaze points to self-awareness and acceptance of their hybrid identity.
In Norse mythology, Fáfnir is the son of King Hreidmar, and becomes a dragon after being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold. A variation of this mythological character appears in Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen under the name of Fafner, the dragon who guards a great treasure. Peter Vos reinterprets the theme in Basilisk (Fafner), pairing Wagner’s tale with the basilisk, a lethal and legendary reptile. Unlike other depictions of basilisk throughout history, who show the creature engaging in cruel or wrathful scenes, Vos ’subject rests serene, immersed in his own stillness. This is a monster aware of its forcefulness, but capable of mastering it.
Kevin Simón Mancera
Kevin Simón Mancera is showing a series of detailed pen drawings of hairy humanoid figures sometimes with dog’s heads who, like some sort of actors, are impersonating human characteristics – often the artist’s own emotions, fears and desires.
Al fin nos vamos entendiendo translates to At last we understand each other, but there is a certain degree of nuance in the sentence that is lost in translation. The Spanish version suggests a continuous and mutual process, in which the understanding between the parties is gradually increasing. The figures in the drawing, however, add a layer of ambiguity to the expression. Is this a violent understanding? Or is it that meeting a different being always develops intensely? Monsters, especially as we perceive them in contemporary culture, can hold an invigorating energy that rattles society’s conceptual categories, but most importantly, push us towards mutual understanding.
In response to the 16th-century chronicle by adventurer Hans Staden who survived his captivity by a Brasilian indian cannibal tribe, Jan Brokof produced a series of photocollages in which various body parts are combined to form bizarre new creatures. His monsters embody the fear and fascination for the unknown and exotic.
In Rousseau's words, man "turns everything upside down; he loves deformity, monsters." This bodily distortion was perceived as aberrant in the 18th century in a context of encyclopedic taxonomic intent. How to classify beings that do not fit in any category? Jan Brokof's collages reconfigure notions about the body and the flesh. In an exercise of crude dissection, the artist constructs new beings from found images. The result is unforeseen anatomies that are not governed by any discourse other than the hand that cuts freely. His monsters then, especially in a contemporary context, are not misshapen, but unrestrained.
At the court of Charles II of Spain, the young Eugenia Martínez Vallejo became famous for her huge size and weight, which earned her the nickname The Monster. Anya Belyat Giunta made a series of drawings inspired by this courtier. To compensate for her tragic fate she puts Eugenia in a Garden of Eden where she is accompanied by fairy creatures and exotic vegetation.
In the Figuretta series, Anya Belyat-Giunta draws studies or models of figures at rest. These creatures appear to have been placed on display and stare at the viewer, sometimes in flamboyant attires that suggest theatricality. At the same time, the drawings feature multiple baffling latent details: a bleeding wound, anthropomorphic details from which herbs sprout, truncated limbs, emanating lines. The confines of the flesh extend to accommodate hybrid beings.