Keke Vilabelda

Contemporary art space Grau Projekt hosts its first international artist this month with the Australian debut of Spanish artist Keke Vilabelda. Within Grau Projekts’ cavernous warehouse space, Vilabelda presents an immersive show titled ‘Common Ground’, which explores the physical connection between Valencia and Melbourne through shared landscape features.

Vilabelda has been working out of the studio space at Grau Projekt to produce the show, which encompasses paintings, digital prints, video work and a large floor installation. Titled Ocean, the site-specific installation is composed of 8 tons of salt spread across the gallery space, turning it into a canvas that visitors shape with their footprints.

Born in Valencia in 1986, Vilabelda investigates the transformation of our urban environments through the hybridisation of painting and digital technologies, and the use of industrial materials like cement and methacrylate. His work reflects a world assimilated by globalisation in its depictions of abandoned and unfinished dwellings, which the artist has dubbed ‘contemporary ruins’. The superficiality of consumerism is present in his images, although there has been an effort on Vilabelda’s part to rescue and preserve the uniqueness and singularity of each building. ‘I feel captivated by how landscapes stand somewhere in between the physical and the mental world, the real and the virtual’, the artist explains. ‘They are almost solely the product of our visual perception, which instantly transforms them into memories of an imaginary journey.’

Although there no people represented in Vilabelda’s work, their presence is felt poignantly through their impact on the landscape. The artist treats the building façade like a subject, perceiving its impersonal humanity and singularity as an object. Architecture is not only a subject for Vilabelda but also a material; in addition to concrete he has recently been integrating raw materials like asphalt and iron, tracing the material back to the beginning of construction.

Grau (meaning ‘grey’ in German) Projekt’s aim is to create a grey area for audiences to experience art in a non-traditional environment. The 1050sqm warehouse space in Clifton Hill makes it one of Australia’s largest commercial galleries, and the gritty history of the warehouse – including a legendary three-day rave – adds further dimension to Vilabelda’s urban-focused work, which unite Victoria with Valencia through a shared industrial physicality.

Keke Vilabelda: Common Ground
14 November 2019 – 15 February 2020
Grau Projekt, Melbourne

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