Jorge Barbi has stated on more than one occasion that he is a sculptor of ideas and that his work emerges from objects he has found in his own experience of life and the environment. In the case of Todo el tiempo del mundo, a sculpture in which two plastic cones, held together by light iron bars, join to form a kind of motionless hourglass, it is obvious that his path as an artist is not a formalist one; rather his journey is in the opposite direction: the artist seeks to give form to ideas. As a result, the element of experience is more difficult to detect at first glance. And yet it is a fundamental issue that Barbi addresses with subtlety. Perhaps this is because he works through complex processes of synthesis, in which experience has been internalised and summarised in a series of materials, and he does not want to deprive them of any of their polysemous potential. In other words, it is not enough to express one’s own experience; as Barbi says, ‘An object must not be a product that expresses or knows, but an event in the sense of constituting acts in itself.’ Throughout his career the artist has shown an interest in remains, in archaeology, in time and the past, and this concern is clearly evident in Todo el tiempo del mundo. In this piece we no longer find objects that refer us to the past, remains that express the passage of time, but rather time itself in a frozen state. This gives rise to a host of possible interpretations. ‘All the time in the world’ enclosed in an iron structure, gripped in plastic, brought to a halt—the work establishes the scope of our desire to eliminate chance, and the tension between chance and nature. Moreover, in the early 1990s Barbi began to take an interest in how works of art are exhibited and received, this piece may be a subtly ironic commentary on the significance of the artwork itself, sheltered and trying to control the passage of time. A subtle approach and economic use of materials yield a result that owes a debt to Minimalism, but which makes ample room for multiple meanings. As he constantly synthesises and sums up his own experience, Barbi manages to give form to the phenomenon of identification between local and global, between a corner of Galicia and objects that are universal in nature. And in that synthesis he does not overlook something many conceptual artists have tended to disparage: the shaping of the work itself. In that sense the resolution of Todo el tiempo del mundo, close to Minimalism, is crucial because it clearly reflects his attempt to avoid providing too much information, the way he limits the work to its essential elements, and his awareness that the objective is not to conceal but to reveal, and that restraint is the key to opening up a broader range of interpretations and making the work more poetically dense.
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