In spite of Marie Kondo’s philosophy, feng shui or minimalism, there is something inside the human being that moves him to other territories where the aesthetic prevails over the practical, over the organized or logically structured and even over the harmonious. The paradigm of what I am talking about could be the 69 eggs created by the Fabergé house between the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century. What a thing, right? Easter eggs produced by means of high goldsmithing with precious stones and metals. Their practical use? None. Their price? The most expensive one is estimated at more than 30 million dollars.
It is curious that the only animal that enjoys the power of reason (well, I do not know if this statement is already somewhat outdated), seeks to get away from it. As if it were a kind of defiance against his own nature, the human being, in an act of rebellion, shuns the domain of the rational and the practical, to settle in kitsch (I understand kitsch as the territory of radical dissidence from the logical, from the practical, from the current aesthetic trends, from the mainstream, from reason for reason’s sake). Actually, if you think about it, there is nothing more human than this.
This is how, almost 20 years ago, the artist Guillermo Peñalver (Tarragona, 1982) started a collection of objects whose utility was subordinated to their aesthetics: vases, plates, teapots or bowls in the shape of animals, human organs, vegetables, etc. Who wants to eat on an ordinary plate when you can eat on a plate in the shape of a cabbage leaf? That is kitsch, that rebellious absurdity against the dogma of utility for utility’s sake, the search for fantasy in the everyday. If we have to eat and drink every day, why not do it in a strawberry-shaped glass and in a tureen surrounded by geese?
In En busca del tesoro Guillermo Peñalver not only presents some of these objects, but also the process of searching for them. A complex search that consists not only in going to flea markets, to Tiger or to a decoration store, but there is a search for affinity, to find that object that, without an obvious causal relationship, is capable of generating a relationship of identity. After all, a collection (whatever it may be) is nothing more than a polyhedral self-portrait of its creator, of the collector. In this search there is something archaeological, with the object and with oneself; it is like wanting to dig a tunnel, starting to remove the earth from two different points until they meet right where the treasure lies.
This archaeological character is present in Peñalver’s own work, but in reverse. Through paper, cardboard, drawing and scissors, the artist reenacts this process of treasure hunting. Drawing through the superimposition of cuttings, that is where the archaeological poetics of his work is found, the construction through traces, the restructuring of a whole through fragments. Isn’t that how objects are constructed and constituted? Can an object be a work of art? Is a work of art an object?