l The latest exhibition at The Tetley in Leeds, the playfully titled Your Consequences Have Actions which runs until the end of January, showcases the work of young Spanish artist Saelia Aparicio.
Her first major show in a public gallery in the UK, it brings together newly commissioned work made especially for The Tetley and a selection of existing pieces.
One of the first things that strikes you about the exhibition is the diversity of the work on display – animation, sculpture, pen and ink, glasswork and neon are all in the mix. What the pieces have in common though is their theme – the body from outside and within – and their starting point.
“All my work comes from drawing,” says Aparicio. “It is really important to me. I get to the point where a drawing is like a flat sculpture and a sculpture is a solid drawing. I start drawing and I don’t know what the piece is going to be and then something happens.”
Possibly the most striking piece in the show is be humble 2017, a large-scale mural that covers the whole height of the central atrium wall and continues all around the building, snaking up and down the stairs and in to the bar area. It is almost like a fairytale beanstalk made up of twisted bodies.
“I wanted to make a drawing that wrapped the building so that it was impossible to see it in one go,” says Aparicio. “The feeling I wanted is of figures, ghostly people. I thought it is quite poetic. All my work is about the fragility not only of the human body but of human beings in the socio-economic context of today.”
It took Aparicio just under three days to make the piece, drawing freehand in pencil straight on to the wall and then filling it in with black ink. It is an impressive achievement. To accompany the drawing she has made twelve wooden stools which are positioned in front of the atrium wall for people to sit on to look at the drawing.
There is humour in the work, which is emphasised by the comic book style and aesthetic, but underlying it is an awareness of the mutability of the body and the impact on it of daily life, disease and aging.
Aparicio says that the roots of this fascination can partly be traced back to her childhood. Her father is a pathologist and when she was growing up he had a lab at their home.
“My subconscious needed to process that early experience,” she says. “I only really started to do this kind of work about three years ago.”
Much of the work in the show has been collabarative, says Aparicio, including her first ever short film, an animation entitled A Mysterical Journey which takes the viewer inside the body through digestive tracts, nerves and veins, “A lot of the works have only been possible through collaborating with others. That has been very important for me. It’s been really inspiring.”
Being shown alongside her work are drawings and sculptures selected from the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection which comprises over 800 works by artists outside of formal arts education from across the world. Intended as a public collection from the beginning, the collection was donated in its entirety to the Whitworth, The University of Manchester in 2010 and is the only public collection of ‘Outsider Art’ held in the UK.
“We have been expanding on our work with archives and collections,” says Bryony Bond, artistic director of the Tetley. “I am really interested in how to work creatively with them and to connect them to creative practice.”
The work of six female artists has been chosen including pieces by Judith Scott, who has inspired Aparicio. “She was a big influence for me,” she says. “Her pieces are messy and intriguing, they don’t reveal themselves.” It is possible to see this influence in some of Aparicio’s hanging pieces which incorporate found objects and are frequently transparent – with visible organs – and delicately placed within the gallery space.
“I wanted to make The Tetley look and feel a bit like a haunted house,” she says. “All the pieces are slightly tilted to give the impression that they are moving.”
Your Consequences Have Actions is at The Tetley until January 28.
Saelia Aparicio will be In Conversation at the Tetley on January 24 at 6pm.