Avelino Sala (Gijon b. 1972) presents a group of works based on the concept of identity through symbols such as currency or flags, probing the fragility of the state, of the individual before the state and of order itself. His works explore, often in three-dimensional form, the power of political and populist iconography as imagined by the artist. In constructing his own invented menagerie of agitprop symbols he deconstructs the genre, questioning its uses and its insidious appeal. Through several series of works such as The Map is not territory; Quick Silver; New Landscapes or Action (Riot) Paintings, the artist questions, through objects of legitimacy such as money, the idea of the nation-state as a nucleus of identity and power. In the process, he reveals the hidden possibility of resistance by the individual, the options of revolt.
Sala's layers of meaning are built into a series of works that draw on the iconic visual debris of contemporary media - cinema, music, art, science fiction, news broadcasts - to offer us a new reading. In the work Action (Riot) Painting, he intermixes genres to create a kind of performance piece by the objects themselves which he anchors in the tradition of action art. For the purpose he marshalls paintings and sculpture and installation with police riot shields featuring metaphorical flags of deconstructed nations. He presents the flag of the USA in three acts, as the axis of the proposal, as well as those of other first world economic powers (China, Germany) along with countries that share US borders such as Mexico.
In Quick Silver and The Map is not the territory Sala addresses the idea of national currency as a bulwark of identity and a way of life. These are the mental building blocks of our geography. Alfred Korzybski's phrase "Map and territory" (which later served as inspiration for Houllebec's novel) underpins the series of gold "stained" notes in this work, composed of a resin-process that at first glance seems casual. These imaginary maps on a sea of gold are nothing more than luxurious representations of a sordid world that through money shapes its borders. The map is horizontal, the territory is not. In Cocktail Molotov, Sala works the Carrara marble in the classical style - perhaps the most prized stone denoting the origin of enduring cultural raw material, one that contrasts brutally with its inherent speech of power.
In the series of watercolors and sprays entitled New Landscapes the artist takes you to the new territories of a devastated world informed by a series of Trumpian subjects featured in his speeches invoking racism, objectification of women, the 'Wall' with Mexico and the like. In New Landscapes Avelino Sala presents the future that has already arrived, the dystopia is here. The future has already reached us.