ExpoZaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
Painted stainless steel
11 mts x 850 x 840 cm

There are inevitable contradictions in sculptural work; fatalities, it seems, of the genre: the impression of mass, the feeling of immobility, and the intrusion in space. An artist’s talent resides in transgressing these contradictions, in responding to the spirit of the place rather than imposing a pre-existing piece of work on it.

Plensa is obsessive with image in his works of art that represent the body. Even when the body is not explicitly represented, the mimetic dimensions of the work, the descriptive precision of his sculptures, evoke it. Words, have been a constant element of his work from the outset, and are conceived chiefly as an organic secretion. It seems that Plensa applies the formula described by Michel Leiris when explaining Tzara’s work: “We think through our mouths”. The first words that Plensa inscribed on his sculptures are a reply.

They suggest beyond the factual aspect of the works, beyond the scope of intellectual territory. They are multiplied into a continuous network over the total surface area of the body; these letters again represent, in their own way, the exploration of the “human container” that has always been the objective of Plensa’s work.

In contrast to Plensa’s usual works in which words add a metaphysical angle to the material elements, the characters that form THE SOUL OF THE EBRO do not have a direct significance. Only the soldered links give them form. But this virtual sense hidden in the outline of the sculpture is also a denouncement of the murmur of useless words that invade our time. The soldered points knot together the apparent disorder of the letters, returning to the origin, to the moment in which language, still not formulated, may talk both of the totality of the world and its negation.

The sculpture tackles implicit interrogations more than affirmations of questions. In contrast to immobile sculptures, intrepid monuments deposited in the heart of places, THE SOUL OF THE EBRO pulses to the rhythm of the days, the lights, and the seasons. It is weightless under the sun, and welcoming as observers try to discover words hidden in the tangle of letters. However, those who try to penetrate the heart of the mystery are refused illumination. The letters, read from the inside, back-to front, slip away even more

By Daniel Abadie

From the catalogue “Intervenciones Artísticas”, ExpoZaragoza, June 2008