Chema Madoz: artist of the minimum

Chema Madoz’s (Madrid, 1958) work has been based on the creation of discourses and narratives through the arrangement and exhibition of objects. This particular way of expressing himself and his poetic vision have been his trademark during all his career, turning him into one of the most interesting Spanish creators of the contemporary artistic scene.

Since his beginnings in photography during the early eighties, Madoz has been engaged in working with all kinds of objects: objects that he has either found, recovered or even bought at flea markets or stores, “any origin is valid if the object is interesting; I rescue them from the most unthinkable places, the object in itself is more important than the place where it is situated (…), some times the objects are right here in the studio and are the ones with which I end up working (…) it is a very open process”, he stated in an interview with Marga Perera for Tendencias del Arte.

Close to graphism and installations, and technically situated in the historical framework of analog photography, Madoz has made use of digital technologies only when strictly necessary, preferring to manipulate inside the realms of realities and with the possibilities offered by the use of black and white, among which is its sense of timelessness.

The product of this intense way of looking at the object, and his playful way of capturing it, is the central theme of an exhibition called Ars Combinatoria, currently on view at the Kutxa Kultur Artegunea, in San Sebastian in the Basque Country. Curator Olivia Maria Rubio presents a broad view of Chema Madoz’s work, covering the artist’s overall trajectory, offering a wide panoramic view of the different stages through which his work has developed up to the moment, showing his evolution as an artist and the different objects that have caught his attention.

Madoz’s work manifests itself as a celebration or glorification of the fortuitous encounter with the objects and their own underlying irony. Using the objects as a starting point, the photographer reconstructs other realities in his studio, developing new ways of interpretation that emerge almost automatically as part of the encounter.

Some critics have connected his work with Surrealism, but Madoz places his most concrete influences with the work of Duane Michals, Ralph Gibson and Jean Dibbets.In his search for new meanings, Madoz encourages us to let our imagination flow. Through subtle gestures and constructions and in search of new possible relations between the objects themselves and with a sort of playful agility, he makes strange things appear normal, as announced in the press note of the exhibition, which will remain open to the public until November 5th, 2017.

Winner of the National Award of Photography 2000 (in Spanish Premio Nacional de Fotografìa 2000), Chema Madoz is the first living Spanish photographer to whom the Centro Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía has dedicated a retrospective exhibition. Also, in 2014, the Reencontres d’Artes organized an anthology of his trajectory.