Bernardí Roig's multi-media work counts among the most renowned positions in Spanish contemporary art. In his multidisciplinary practice, the artist uses video, sculpture and photography to create powerful and expressive images nurtured by mythology, theatre, cinema and literature. Captured in dramatic scenarios and in relation to the exhibition spaces the figurative aspects of his visual language develop an even more theatrical radiance.
Kewenig's Room #10 presents Roig's video work Joie de vivre (2018) for which he summoned a group of beautiful contemporary nymphs to be filmed in Madrid's Tabacalera, a former tobacco factory where thousands of women worked under miserable conditions. Here, the first female trade union collective was formed. Rebellious, passionate and independent, Las Cigarreras strengthened the condition of working women.
Susana, Ana, Tamara, Silvia and Sandra surely could be descendants of that social force: They are splendid presences, marked by life and satiated with tattoos and scars. Moving with ease in their high heels, naked and brimming with carnality, they inhabit their generous bodies to the full. In reference to Henri Matisse's painting Le Bonheur de vivre (1905/06), they occupy the spaces of the Tabacalera with their embraces, laughter, and confidence, running around while chased and filmed by a drone.
Matisse's masterpiece was first shown at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1906. Charged with eroticism it is a celebration of landscape and bodies, of caresses and frictions. In this period, Fauvism dominated the scene, challenging the dehumanising processes imposed by the accelerated capitalism and the consequent mechanisation of factory activities.
'Stop the machines!', shouted the cigarette-makers in 1887, and the whole Lavapiés neighbourhood of Madrid took to the streets while the authorities trembled. It was their way of resisting and mobilising. Spanish writer Benito Pérez Galdós called them 'Joy of the people and terror of authority.' Joie de vivre is intended as an ode to these women.
Bernardi Roig (b. 1965) lives and works between Binissalem and Madrid. His work has been shown in many international exhibitions, such as the 54th Venice Biennale; BOZAR Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Alte Pinakothek, Munich; Centre for International Light Art, Unna; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Palazzo Fortuny, Venice; MUNTREF, Buenos Aires; Canterbury Cathedral, Kent,England; The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; Museum Residenzgalerie, Salzburg; and IVAM, Valencia, amongst others.
Press release courtesy KEWENIG.