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Reversible imagenes cenitales 2023



In a Fraction [Reversible]

2023.11.10 - 2024.03.31


Curator: Mikel Onandia







© Reversible (cenitals images), 2023

Darío Urzay, VEGAP, Donostia / San Sebastián, 2023       


The exhibition, curated by Mikel Onandia, presents more than 50 works produced by Darío Urzay between 1997 and 2023 arranged in four large rooms. The exhibition discourse has been divided into 6 sections: From the photographic, Camerastrokes, Melted sediments, Aerial images, Retinal topographies and An expanded time.



From the photographic

Amidst the maelstrom of the visual and immersed in the digital world, where there is an increasingly pronounced overlap between the real and the image of the real, Darío Urzay finds in the analogue, in the photographic negative – the recording of light captured by the camera that, non-positivised, guards a latent reality – a way of positioning oneself in painting, a form of split that allows one to reflect on duplicity, the fragmentation of the self and the meaning of art, and by extension, on the meaning of human existence.



Urzay produced a series of photographs inside Burgos Cathedral in 1991. In a performative act, camera in hand, he carried out random, expressive movements in the air, like virtual brushstrokes that captured a light charged with spirituality. Christened as camerastrokes, those images turned out to be the embryo of several major works in the years that followed.


In El ausente (blind spot-un cuerpo expandido) (1996-1997), he creates a poetic atmosphere that refers to elevation. The photograph, a sign of presence and absence, is converted into a representation devoid of image, an appearance of disappearance, validated by the great blood-red puddle, as an image of pictorial matter that gently begins to levitate.


The camerastrokes that Urzay returned to for his works in Bilbao’s Iberdrola Tower in Bilbao (Pasaje nocturno I and II, 2011) are the basis for Curfew (2020), a series of small-format, draftsman-like images that respond to a more intimate, domestic scale and nature.



Melted sediments


Darío Urzay’s interest in the sedimentary and its meltingis materialised in the processes of solidification and liquefaction of matter. Frozen clay bodies obtained by means of stone moulds are left on a support at room temperature until arriving at their liquid state (a thawing that the artist records through hundreds of photographs), forming the basis of works such as Memorizando estratos (2009), in which stones collected in various places are diluted in a pictorial stain.


For its part, in Frost Frames (Loop) (2016), he reflects on the construction and deconstruction of painting per se based on the thawing of Lego bricks. As a contrast to these images of decomposition in motion, Fragmento: A Negative View-Observator Virtual (Positivado) (2023) –created on the basis of the negative image of one half of A Negative View-Observator Virtual (2002), which can be seen in another room of this exhibition – acts as a frozen image.



Aerial images


Darío Urzay undertook his first flights by light aircraft in 2005 in order to obtain some aerial photographs, which became the basis of his painting in the years that followed. By means of zenithal views, which interest him as a perspective that was inaccessible to painters prior to the 18th century, when the first balloon flights took place, he incorporates this up-down perspective into the traditional down-up view of Ascensions that have proliferated since the Middle Ages, especially prevalent during the Baroque period.


Among his aerial views are those taken over Sajazarra (La Rioja). Terrains, mountains, forests, paths and meadows become fields of colour of a pictorial nature. Urzay has mounted these photographs by climbing up the wall of the exhibition room, making them coincide with a real geographical map, so that they place the viewer in front of the exact location of what is represented and gives rise to a celestial perspective that hovers over the entire exhibition.


If his camerastrokes were bodily gestures in space, these images are frozen gestures, disembodied from space at 200 km per hour.




Retinal topographies


From 2000 onwards, Urzay has systematically incorporated discoveries from previous years, such as photographic negatives, the use of resin or melting, both virtual and real. While A Negative View-Observator Virtual (2002) is composed of two energetic images in a kind of symbiosis between appearance and essence, Mirador distante (tan cerca) (2007) is based on an aerial photograph taken over Legarda hill (Vitoria-Gasteiz) that is covered with translucent matter.



His most recent production is notable for dispensing with resin –which gave his work a sterile, shiny feeling– in order to return to the physicality of painting. His works from the Reversible series are presented as settings of actions postponed in time, vaporous dreams that the artist creates from negatives of aerial images, streaks of smoke and the melting of matter that mutates into a new existence on the flatness of the canvas.



An expanded time


The combination of soft gestural and constructive strokes together with blackish smudges, vestiges of a flame, provide a subtlety that functions as a reminder of human fragility. The result of a return to the essence of the pictorial, Darío Urzay’s latest works act as negatives that question the referent, situated in an uncertain future: an ambiguity of spectral echoes that is resolved in favour of its tactile quality, whose revelation acts not as an exact opposite, but as an essay in the creation of an impossible to reveal reality that responds to a desire to expand time.


Urzay continues to work with his extensive archive of aerial images, creating compositions of negatives that, in the manner of photographic contact sheets (Reversible (imágenes cenitales), 2023), act as quotations of previous works and evoke non-terrestrial, reddish and sandy geographies, like Martian landscapes or non-places of the future in which the geological takes precedence.






DARIODarío Urzay (Bilbao, 1958) is a painter, photographer, and visual artist.



Spanning over a period of more than forty years, Darío Urzay’s career includes many solo exhibitions in prestigious galleries in New York, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Oslo and Helsinki. He has also participated in group exhibitions at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, Madrid’s Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Centre, Guggenheim Bilbao, Barcelona’s Miró Foundation, Brussels’ De Markten cultural centre, Mexico City’s Rufino Tamayo Museum, Bielefeld’s Kunsthalle and Berlin’s Hamburg Banhoff Museum, among others.



His work can be found in numerous collections, including:  Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Centre (Madrid), MACBA (Barcelona), Artium Museoa, Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country (Vitoria-Gasteiz), Deutsche Bank Collection (London), Würth Museum La Rioja, BBVA Collection, Photomuseum (Zarautz), FNAC Fonds national d’art contemporain (Paris), Iberdrola Collection, Prudential Collection (New York), Kutxa Fundazioa, Marugame Hirai Museum, Martínez Gerricabeitia Collection, Bank of Spain (Madrid), Botín Foundation (Santander), Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional, Patio Herreriano Museum of Contemporary Art (Valladolid), I.C.O. Foundation (Madrid), Holm Collection and Sorigué Foundation (Lleida).


His work has been recognised with awards such as the National Graphic Art Prize (2005), Excellent Work Award at the Beijing Biennale (2005), and the Basque Government’s Gure Artea Prize over two editions: for his work El pintor y la modelo o los ausentes in 1983 and in recognition of his artistic career in 2021.




 © Juantxo Egaña




Guided tours

Every Saturday 

5.30 pm Basque  / 6.30 pm Spanish 

Free | Prior booking:  in the Gallery,  T 943 251939 or   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Thursday 23 november 2023 | 6.30 pm

An Expanded Time: Darío Urzay's (Non) Painting

with Mikel Onandia

Free | Spanish

Prior booking on the website



Thursday 25 January 2024 | 6.30 pm 

Through the Looking Glass: conversation between Txomin Badiola and Darío Urzay

Moderated by Mikel Onandia

Free | Spanish




dario-catalogDARÍO URZAY

Basque, Spanish, English

Texts: Mikel Onandia, José Jiménez


Price: €40 (TAX included)



The catalogue, designed by Maite Zabaleta and printed in full color in Graphics Michelena, offers two original texts by Mikel Onandia (commissioner) and José Jiménez, which allow you to approach the work of Darío Urzay, not only from this exhibition, but in a general way. Photographs of a wide selection of works in the sample are included.







Descard here the guide of exhibition.

dario -ingle