cite>Maltrato is a video projection which, like a trompe-l'œil, shows a panel of flowers with large coloured petals which is gradually shot to pieces. The shots follow one another in an insistent cadence until they have massacred the flowers, which lie destroyed on the floor. Through the force of the trompe-l'œil and the size of the image -which stretches from floor to ceiling-, the spectator is included, absorbed into a shootout without knowing to what extent he is part of the firing squad or of the bullet-riddled flowers. Lastly, the soundtrack of the video projection -the shots like whiplashes- helps to create a feeling of repetition and cadence that redoubles the metaphorical cruelty of the image. And metaphor is the very element Peñafiel brings into play in this work. The wall of flowers is an image that sums up the concept of beauty, whilst that purely visual beauty works as a metaphor, as a visible part of everything that concerns our personal aspirations, as a symbol of the trust we place in aesthetic projects, in culture, and as the protection we build around our time in the world. And yet that beauty is subjected to constant mistreatment.
Maltrato defends slowness as opposed to the speed of images, a certain halt in time, and in its very cruelty it provides an image of beauty: the petals flying slowly, splattered against the wall, the perfect bullet… His work is not overstated; it does not dramatise. The panel of flowers sets in motion a direct metaphor that uses the very trap of beauty we would like to believe in: it does not show the world in which we would like to live, nor does it make an explicit criticism of the reality in which we do live; it shows the world we live in which we build each day and cynically enjoy mistreating.
Peñafiel deliberately shuns the obvious, the evident, any explicit criticism. Beneath the subtlety, his works exude powerful, sarcastic, cruel, violent, ironic overtones. Their apparent poetic beauty hides a perverse side, though with nuances, which attacks our emotional imagination. The aspects that affect the social, political or artistic do not aim at any grand discourse; they are conceived from a centrality of the subject in its intimate, affective sense. That is the source of the effectiveness of his work: the place where the involvement and political militancy of his youth are summed up, as well as his commitment and his concern for the reality of the world we live in lies precisely in his determination to address the individual in this kind of reminder of the personal responsibility we must exercise every day.