The two pieces by Cristina Iglesias from the Fundación ”la Caixa” Collection discussed here [Untitled M/m 1 and Untitled 4-7] mark out the motifs and themes that interested her in the first stage of her maturity, many of which remained unaltered over the following decade. Her first concern is with sculpture, understood from two main angles: as an individualised construction that creates a space of its own, and as a transformer of the space around it. This immediately implies the involvement of the viewer, who is called upon to play an active role. In some way, the viewer feels that he is inside the sculpture, surrounded by the piece and, quite often, that its properties are the ones that define painting, even though nothing specifically pictorial is added to them. The second notable feature of her work is the profusion, originality and elegance of the materials she uses; not only in themselves, but for their adaptation to certain concepts, one of which is central to her work. For Iglesias, sculpture is not only something external offered for appreciation, but a kind of skin—rigid, rough, unpredictable in its teeming secret inner life—which can become either an inhabitable cubicle or an occasionally permeable extension of the wall. One dominant material—in these and many other works from the same time or even later—is cement treated with colouring pigments and modelled as if it was plaster or mud. And, by way of counterpoint, metal: iron and copper in this first period, with the addition of aluminium in later works. She also uses glass, colourless or stained, combined with or sometimes replaced by alabaster. To those materials, which we might call ‘constituent elements’, others are added: wood, resins, tapestry, painted papers, and so on, in a juxtaposition parallel to that of their spatial characteristics. Third, light, or shadows—inseparable elements in this case—are important to the structure of her work: they make the pieces accessible places or transit zones that the viewer must enter or walk around to reach a full understanding. In quite a few cases, however, that activity remains an interrupted desire, since she deliberately narrows the spaces until they become a mere promise that behind them there is something, which, nevertheless, is beyond our reach. Lastly, as is the case of Untitled M/m 1 and many other of her works, it is important to note the way she uses the walls of the room where her works are installed as one more component of the sculpture. That opens up new possibilities for the exterior-interior dialectic, which is crucial in her thinking, and a structuring of the pieces in each specific space where they are arranged. It has been rightly said that Iglesias’s works refer us to forgotten landscapes or hidden memories of places, and that they also conjure up constructions such as arches or bridges, an image that might be suggested by Untitled 4-7. Her works are also paradoxes for perception and for our concept of sculpture, since they amalgamate opposing principles while taking on theatrical features which have nothing to do with conventional models of installation. Cristina Iglesias’s poetics involves the combining of symbols that refer to both space and personal biography or immediate history, a perspective that makes it possible to link her to sculptors such as Thomas Schütte and Reinhard Mucha.
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