Exhibition Press Release

José Vera Matos

La Espada Es La Pared

Sep 10 - October 30, 2020

The drawings and transcripts of José Vera Matos reflect language and writing as essential tools for the conquest and domination of the Americas, but also about how those same tools later became a means of resistance used throughout history.
The texts selected for their transcriptions address various aspects of the impact that the conquest had on the Americas. More than the historical fact itself, what interests Vera Matos are the consequences and the phenomena resulting from this violent clash between the two cultures. Colonial violence and resistance movements throughout history are felt not only in wars of conquest and anti-colonial struggles, but also, later on, in daily life beset by the tension between the “civilized” and the “Wild”, between “official” culture and popular culture, between the western and the indigenous.
To translate the content of the texts into an image, Vera Matos uses columns of text that make direct reference to the Spanish language and language in general as an instrument of domination and control. The use of geometric elements and patterns present in all pre-Columbian iconography visually affects these columns. Just as these vertical columns of text represent the forced imposition of a new way of thinking, the use of staggered and trapezoidal pre-Columbian patterns found in tocapus and Inca architecture, Tiwanaku ceramics and Paracas textiles serve to express rejection and opposition to it. Spanish.
The use of pre-Hispanic geometric patterns and simple geometries is also a reference to the introduction in Latin America of European modernist ideas in the 1930s, particularly in the work of Joaquín Torres García, who imagined pre-Hispanic art as a symbolic representation of the conceptual evidenced through geometry. It is also an approach to the construction of a new iconography conceived and designed by indigenous thought that emerged in that same decade to build an identity completely free of European ideas and culture. Thus, indigenous cultures are revalidated and the mechanisms of racial discrimination that date back to colonial times are questioned. Torres García himself pursued a middle point between the two cultural extremes.
Words are ultimately what visually compose the environment in which the information in rewritten books ceases to be linear and the reading order is altered to become random; the text is hidden and distributed between rectangular blocks and geometric elements that transmit tensions and ruptures, as well as alignments, between two totally different ways of understanding reality.