Georges Eugène Haussmann, French administrator who lived in the 19th century, was chosen by the Emperor Napoleon III to improve the landscaping, street designs and utility networks of Paris. In doing so, he inadvertently pushed the future of city planning into the direction of more organized but nonetheless increasingly erratic assembly. He had laid the basic patterns of modern urban planning. Haussmannization, the creative destruction of cities for the betterment of society. You may call that gentrification with the added influx from the state. However, no matter how ambivalent our feelings towards the Frenchman are, he is not to be blamed for the modern city's tendency to send us into sensory overload, we did that by ourselves. Humans are creatures of habit, and constant migrating from the rural areas to cities has become, we now know, a bad habit, and those die hard. We willingly sleepwalk off to work while our nervous systems quiver. Plastic Murs art gallery and Print Shop located in the Valencian neighborhood of Ruzafa will be highlighting the works of five artists relative to the aforementioned self-oppression that we induce by choosing to “escape” to Metropolis.
The territories that we occupy are the evolution of modern city as seen by the romantic conjugations of the 19th century and futuristic artistic visions of 20th, postwar-postmodern reconstructions, instances of gentrifying neighborhoods, and mock realities that modern media create for us. We are constantly being pushed to the brink by the city’s requirements. Our living spaces, condominiums, are also being pushed to the margins of urban revival, to the edge of banded masonry. We as a species are once more, as if congeneric to a virus, transducing factual errors that, no matter how obvious from our history, are often so easily neglected. March 11th will see Ruzafa, one of the most historic areas of Valencia, host five artists who will be gathering in an attempt to fragment for us their view on human values at the fringes of our cities.
These scenes are shown to us, stark naked, by the paintings of Manolo Mesa and Mohamed L’Ghacham. These two artists carefully chose the settings in which their works are depicted. Rundown peripheries of metropolitan areas, or long abandoned industrial zones dwelling on the margins of our cities. Works of Sebas Velasco, on the other hand, emit a strong message of the immediacy, necessity, and power that the act of street painting brings with it. Geometrical shapes of Alessandro Etnik’s works bring an ideal of abstract vision, depicted in the form of simple lines reminiscent of geometrical skies. Four artists bring with them artistic development that was grown on the streets, where most of their works are done. Jessica Hess, on the other hand, is a hyperreal landscape painter. Her depictions of the urban environment, at the same time celebrate and validate the art of graffiti through the lens of oil paintings on canvas and gouache on paper. Jessica's works contrast the exhibition by not being done on walls, but still relaying the kenophobia and the terror of tag and graffiti’s omnipresence, invoking in us a reminder of our cities' deterioration.
Plastic Murs will be showing us the works of these five great contemporary artists: Etnik, Jessica Hess, Manolo Mesa, Mohamed L’Ghacham and Sebas Velasco, in an exhibition titled POLIFICATION, creating for us a one-time opportunity to witness the disintegration of our cities as seen through the eyes of an artist. The exhibition will be opening on Friday 11th March and closing on April 8th in the Ruzafa neighbourhood of Valencia.
All images courtesy of Plastic Murs gallery