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Danzad, danzad, malditos

Violence, in the most general sense of the word, has been a common subject to be studied, analyzed and represented throughout Art History. From Ribera to Tarantino or Günter Brus, it has been expressed in such different ways, but in rare occasions the result might be an affable image.

Although the work of Carlos Aires talks about an uncomfortable reality, this is only its background. Sometimes the image hides its acidity by mimicking itself with pop colors; sometimes the image adopts the shape of its own content. At any case, the result is always a beautiful image, easy to see, or at least of a concealed sweetness. But the image offers to the spectator the factor of surprise, the possibility of discovering most of times under its appearance an acid, perturbing and politically incorrect lecture. This concealing is evidenced by the title of the exhibition.


“Danzad, danzad, malditos” is the Spanish translation of the film by Sydney Pollack “They shoot horses, don’t they?”. Produced in 1969, is the story of a dance marathon, that were common during the Great Depression of the USA. These contests, fed by the strong economical and social crisis, offered the poorest ones the opportunity of seeing the American Dream becoming true. The fact is that this kind of spectacle was possible not only because of the economical situation, but also because of the growing power of the new media, Hollywood industry especially. Young desperate people used to go there and dance, following the illusion of showing themselves in public for the chance to succeed as cinema stars, and of course, with nothing to lose. This was definitely its nicest face, the possibility of an opportunity.

But if the American Dream is defined by the opening of possibility, its attractive appearance is also hiding hard effort, suffering and pain, which are constantly increasing by the related growing of ambition, and this is on what the film insists.

This double appearance of reality is characteristic of Carlos Aires’ work, being basically, the leitmotiv in his artistic career. So, starting from the postulate that reality is always showed as manipulated, pre-generated to us, through different filters as mass media, he seems to have decided to distort it.


In the series “Love is in the Air” the paradox appears on the relation between its elements. In the case of the vinyl cut-outs, it is easy to compare these works with Pollack’s film, so while Aires treats images with a high sexual content from the affability of a musical vinyl, Pollack talks about what was a real torture for quite a lot of people, decorated as a kind of spectacle, with lights and live music. In his inox edition, an isolated image, or a phrase out of context, seem to be far from a violent narration. It is the knife itself what is able to transmit the horror of its original context, as the images were found in the Photography Museum of Ambers, all them classified as “catastrophe”. In this occasion, Aires is also presenting his most recent version of the series, consisting in silhouettes caring the same meaning but this time materialized on fifty Euros bills. The cuttings are now shown subjected by pins, as a collection of insects. The composition is titled “El Jardín de las Delicias” (The Garden of Earthly Delights”).

 Born in Andalucía, Carlos Aires is actually living between Spain and Belgium, where he early went to develop his artistic career. It is possible to say that his transit between these two countries, and also the enormous potential of the new media, helped him to get enriched by innumerable referents, which he would study and incorporate to his work, always with an ambiguity aesthetics that is yet typical in his work, and with an analytic attitude to our perception of reality. Goya’s or Velazquez’s portraits have been an open source to his work, what is clearly evidenced in the treating of his photographs, but always with a constant adaptation to nowadays context. Example of this are his baroque frames, which under a wooden appearance are just polyurethane reproductions, or his reinterpretations of baroque altars.  

In “Danzad, danzad, malditos” Carlos Aires not only shows himself to be quite able to transit between narrations, contents and containers, but also express himself comfortably through the most different media. He is presenting, apart of the mentioned series, “Mister Hyde”, a video where an infrared camera recorded images from two different situations. The first one is a terror castle in a funfair, the other one is a dark room of a gay discotheque in Antwerpen, the Belgian city where the artists lives. The images, after an edition process, are almost undistinguishable.


The work of Carlos Aires confronts us to a world where opposites coincide. Reality and fiction, true and false, natural and artificial, tradition and contemporariness, are dichotomies that here are confused. The unity of his work is defined in the right moment where these dichotomies are conciliated.


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