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Paseo de los Melancólicos
Mar 15 - Apr 26, 2014
Patricia Fernández: Paseo de los Melancólicos
March 15 – April 26, 2014
Exhibition Opening: March 15, 6-8pm
Set along the Spanish-French Pyrenees, Patricia Fernández’s recent work has focused on unearthing memories of the border and rewriting histories through walking.
Spanning woodwork and artist books, painting, research, writing and recorded family folklore, Spanish-born, LA-based Fernández’s Paseo de los Melancólicos retraces the trail of Republicans that fled as the Spanish Civil War came to a close. Beginning in 1939 nearly 500,000 people escaped to nearby France through the Pyrenees knowing they had little chance of integrating into Franco’s Spain. Fernández derives her art from extant traces of this postwar exodus.
On excursions through the mountains bordering Spain and France Fernández has taken her own account of Linea P, the fortified line in the Pyrenees that Franco built during World War II to deter the Maquis guerillas and the prospect of an incursion by liberated France should his primary sponsor, Hitler, fail in Russia. Leading to Franco’s bunkers is a path that came to be called the Paseo de los Melancólicos. It began at the Canfranc International Railway Station, a 240-meter long building shared by border patrols of both Spain and France high up in the valley of Aragón. The now-abandoned structure was the gateway to the mountain trails that many used to escape after the war. Over the last few years, traversing these pathways has led the artist to collecting stories from exiles never to return to Spain.
In one work included in the LA><ART exhibition, Fernández has sewn a line of pressed blossoms to a piece of fabric. These poppies, daisies and orchids trace Pyrenean valleys where wild flowers flourish. They also trace the memory of a Republican and artist interviewed in Bordeaux. Through the path between valleys he described to Fernández his passage into France 60 years ago. For him the native plants, Spain and his memory of it were fused in the still life paintings of flowers that hung in his studio and which inspired some of Fernández’s own works on canvas found in the show at LA><ART. Conversations of this sort have guided the artist’s careful accumulation of research that maps a borderland between a previous wartime and the present day.
In another aspect of the installation, Fernández has laid tiles. These hand-painted replicas recreate the floor she found at the defunct Canfranc train station. Walking over the arrangement puts us in a shifting role; for this walkway was not only an entry point for displaced Spanish Republicans, it was also the passageway for the solitary soldiers charged with occupying the mountainous bunkers in solitary confinement, who waited for an unlikely war in a needlessly militarized zone. Linea P, like the more iconic barrier structures created after the war, such as the Berlin Wall, can only be experienced in figments of architecture that symbolize societal degeneration.
About the Artist
Patricia Fernández received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2010. Fernández is a Joan Mitchell Grant recipient (2010), a California Community Foundation Fellow (2011) and France–Los Angeles Exchange Grant (2012). The work A Record of Succession was exhibited at the Made in LA Los Angeles Biennial organized by the Hammer Museum in collaboration with LA><ART (2011). She has exhibited at Clifton Benevento Gallery in New York, David Petersen Gallery in Minneapolis and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. In 2013, she was a Fondazione Antonio Ratti Artist Resident. She has an upcoming residency at 18th Street Arts Center where she will be presenting “Points of Departure (between Spain and France).”
LA><ART's programs are produced with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The National Endowment for the Arts; The Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Nathan Cummings Foundation, with the support and encouragement of Roberta Friedman Cummings, Dashiell Driscoll and Clea Shearer; The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation; California Community Foundation; City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; and The Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.
These programs were made possible with the generous support of Brenda R. Potter, the Pasadena Art Alliance, Andrew Pasquella, and an anonymous donor.