Susana Solano (Barcelona, ​​1946) hates making literature of her work. Her sculptures feel best in ambiguity and complexity, which is why she resists imposing meaning or explaining where they begin and where they end. She prefers the mystery that the viewer’s gaze must solve. They are born from thoughts and are nourished by experiences and dreams, and despite their apparent and deliberate silence, the formal hardness of the materials, there is something deeply emotional in them that has to do with issues such as “solitude, silence, anguish, trauma, confinement, rest or play,” says art historian and critic Enrique Juncosa, who has brought together fifty works that condense four decades of work in the Espais Volart of the Fundació Vila Casas.

Susana Solano is one of the great voices of contemporary sculpture, “a national treasure”, Juncosa will say, with an international projection that has led her to exhibit in Münster, the Documenta in Kassel or the Venice and São Paulo biennials. However, her city, Barcelona, ​​so forgetful, has always seemed elusive to her. This explains why twenty-five years have had to pass to be able to enjoy a complete vision of his work, the first since the retrospective that the Macba dedicated to him in 1999. Juncosa has titled it Anonymous, like the series that brings together his latest works, a collection of small wooden boxes with delicate metal elements, in which the more playful Susano Solano incorporates small disturbing elements.

At the artist’s request, Volart’s rooms are bathed in industrial white fluorescent light that gives the exhibition a scenographic, almost theatrical character, in keeping with the forceful structures (cages, cells, rooms, quadrilaterals, lattices… .) and the materials with which he gives them life, especially iron, which he likes to work with because “he has no memory.” “It is a very hard work but also very emotional, which speaks above all about life in cities,” considers Juncosa, who has rescued from the artists’ studio works that had never been shown before, such as Room Four Forty, a sculptural group. of iron and lead from 1993. “When you are alone in the workshop, you create the story yourself, you make a work and you keep it until you think it is time to show it, but there are others that stay there,” she explains.

Solano arrived late to art. Once his marriage broke up, he enrolled in Fine Arts when he was 30 years old. Her three children were small and she worked in the living room. Due to lack of resources, she worked with the materials that she could afford, such as the plaster of that Pedris II, a stone bench made of tow, metal mesh and steel that today is part of the Macba collection and here opens the route. The exhibition (until July 14) also shows the more intimate and direct photographer Susana Solano, who reflects on memory through Black on White (the close-up face of her mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, camouflaged among the worn heads of the marble statues in the Piazza di Spagna in Rome) or the footprints left by his naked son in the sand (Shame Taken). In a third frieze we see close-ups of one of the dogs that have accompanied her throughout her life, a Mallorcan bestial dog that she adopted after a pig slaughter in Miquel Barceló’s studio. “As soon as I was born, my mother put a dog under my crib. She said, ‘come, take care of the girl.’ And she raised the dog for me,” the artist laughs.

There is also the traveling Solano, who seeks contact with other territories and diverse people, who allows herself to be surprised and opens herself to the world, bringing back intriguing large sculptures such as Lalibela, inspired by the churches of the Christian monastic city in the north. from Ethiopia, carved from a single block of stone. Or the one that denounces the working conditions in a paper factory in India, in Salim’s Papel (2000), an installation that brings together two large photographs arranged as if they were an altar on two oriental rugs.

Trips that have made her “more respectful and human” and invite her to rethink her place in the world. Something similar to what happens to the viewer when he is faced with architectural forms, whose titles, placed after the fact, not only do not explain but also evoke opposing ideas. Like that Thermal Station No. 2 (1987) that seems to refer to an urn or a sarcophagus, or the fabulous Casus Bellis III, from the late nineties when he experiments with other materials and his works lose rigidity, a semicircle of soft matter that seems to have deflated due to passage. of time and absences.