Picture: the body of the machine

21 march, 2024 – 2025
Philip West room. First floor

The exhibition Philip West. The body of the machine is a project curated by Eduardo Valiña that involves an investigation featuring the presence of the machine in the work of Philip West.
The English artist, born in 1949 and who died in Zaragoza in 1997, thus recreates a fantastic world in which imaginary characters acquire the status of reality and everyday objects are contemplated from a new innovative vision, giving them an aura of fiction. His imagination leads him to depict numerous metaphorical confrontations in his paintings.
His first drawings oscillate between two antagonistic languages that coexist more or less implicitly throughout his work. Elements with a descriptive and expository meticulousness of scientific appearance are featured in these works by Philip West, where his own imagined vision of the subconscious, but at the same time endowed with elements of common references, give it a character of universality.
Marcel Duchamp, pioneer of the ready-made, introduced a type of art characterized by the inclusion in works of art of objects that apparently lack artistic value. The same object can be the whole work itself, and at no time is the original integrity of the matter masked. The ready-made was adopted by both Surrealism and Dadaism because of its unconventional and controversial character, which is opposed to nineteenth-century classicist artistic principles.
In a completely materialistic era in which there is a high reproduction of objects, it is almost impossible to have an objective choice of everyday goods, so human beings have been developing feelings of belonging to them.
From an artistic point of view, using a sewing machine, a needle or a fork decontextualized from their day-to-day life is a resource that intrigues and disturbs the viewer. It is a game of constant provocation.
Surrealist artists such as Philip West do not seek to bring greater symbolic meaning to such objects. Machines, technology, are part of a surrealist imaginary that mixes real materials with unreal spaces, combining them with dissected bodies, insects, landscapes, and strange backgrounds such as the lapel of a shirt.
The encounter of opposites, of contrary realities, human and robotic, come together to give shape to strange paradoxes, something so typical of surrealism, and which in West is reiterated in various ways: a bullet from a human eye, a hand-rifle, an insect-lighter, a woman’s gun shoe, a suitcase-caterpillar, an iron-ship on the shores of a beach, a train derailing inside a fish, a skeleton pierced by a needle, a telephone pierced by a fishhook.