For her current exhibition, More World, at Foxy Production, Spanish artist Ester Partegàs (b. 1972) combines drawings, prints, sculptures, video, and wallpaper as a meditation on urban spaces and consumer culture, two of the recurring themes seen throughout her overall body of work. Black and white photocopy-printed wallpaper with imagery of chain-link fences enclosing an austere landscape of trees covers all gallery walls, serving as a backdrop for the rest of the installation. Brightly colored drawings and prints atop of the monochromatic wallpaper hang in contrast to the harsh reality of the abandoned urban landscape.
A series of three abstract candy-colored drawings, entitled Studies in Mysticism, are immediately visible upon entering the space, catching the viewer’s attention with their vibrant palette and designs. Using deconstructed commercial packaging as templates for the formal compositions, Partegàs favors the pre-digital, handmade technique of airbrush and stencils. Within the drawings she removes all labels and exploits the product design to suggest cosmic allusions. We are quickly reminded how easy it is to be seduced by marketing and the eventual disappointment once we move past the packaging. In her varied, interdisciplinary practice, the drawings emphasize an important aspect of her critique on consumerism: we may expect these objects to reflect manufactured perfection, but transformed into handmade drawings, they encourage slower and more careful reflection. Opposite the Studies in Mysticism, two digital prints show systematic arrangements of French fries on bold backgrounds. Partegàs uses the linear nature of the fries to build compositions that operate like simple line drawings, creating an organized system for this ubiquitous and quotidian element of consumer culture. Presented in such an unappetizing light, the French fries reveal implications that are perhaps even darker than those in Studies in Mysticism.
Aside from the drawings, a lightbox photograph showing a seemingly beautiful forest at first seems in direct contrast to the wallpaper behind it, but upon a closer look, shows a scene rife with problems. Placed throughout the gallery, sculptures of potted plants covered in plastic as protection from the cold feel more suffocated than sheltered. The installation culminates with a silent video, Ghost, reflecting the world through a deserted puddle. Nothing is glamorized as we watch trash blow through the water, a bird fly overhead, and the subtle changes of an illuminated billboard. Partegàs does not present the most positive outlook on the urban world to us but at least she offers a darkly humorous experience. – Rachel Liebowitz, Assistant Curator