Meadows Museum Presents: Palabras Vacias (Empty Words) by 2022 Venice Biennale Artist Ignasi Aballí

Meadows Museum presents Palabras Vacias (Empty Words) by contemporary Spanish artist Ignasi Aballí from March 6 through June 26 of this year.

The exhibit arrives as part of MAS: Meadows/ARCO Artist Spotlight program, a six-year partnership between the Museum and Fundación ARCO of Spain’s prominent contemporary art fair ARCOmadrid. The collaboration is designed to bring contemporary artists with limited U.S. recognition to present their work at Meadows biannually.

Aballí is the first artist to arrive under the contract.

Palabras Vacias (Empty Words) (2020) displays 27 iron plates hung at eye level, with words cut into them. As one looks into the individual pieces, the iron quality distorts the image of oneself that should stare back, forcing the viewer to confront the Empty Words. Adjectives such as “ERASED,” “IMMATERIAL”, or “UNSEEN” stand to challenge viewers to think about their own experiences with these conditions.

Image Credit: Meadows Museum
Image Credit: Meadows Museum

“(The works) follow my interest in the relationships between words, text, and image,” Aballí said.

An exciting aspect of the work is English as the functional language. Aballí admits to having difficulty choosing which language to communicate his vision through.

“(I thought of using) Spanish, but this is a question of gender. As English is more neutral, I decided to work with (it) as I dedicated the (work) to refer to every gender condition.”

The presence of the work in the same room as pieces by Murillo and other early Renaissance artists seems to continue the history of Spanish art to the present day. Especially as the pieces are created during the wake of covid, the words of the presentation can point to feelings presented during that time that everyone can relate to in some way.

“This is the most contemporary (exhibit) I have ever seen in the Meadows galleries,” says Joan Didow of Site131, Dallas.

Meadows curator Dr. Amanda Dotseth believes that the pieces are the most contemporary additions to the gallery since her tenure.

“This exhibit functions very differently here, next to Medieval altarpieces than it would in a contemporary gallery.”