Fire and/or Smoke brings together texts by Spanish artist, Asier Mendizabal that were published between March 2007 and January 2010 in his fortnightly column in Mugalari, the cultural supplement of the Basque daily paper, Gara.
Organised here in the order in which they were written and published, these texts were an exception in this newspaper in that they neither referred to current events nor purported to be opinion articles. They are organically linked to Asier Mendizabal’s artistic practice and contain (albeit implicitly) a fair measure of self-reflection.
The pictures that illustrate these texts were chosen by the author himself and are intended to create a parallel visual sequence that affords added complexity to the discourse, suggesting a multiplicity of different readings through thematic indexes.
‘The compelling nature of Mendizabal’s work is due to an instinctive feel for effective sculptural and graphic form, an understanding of the heraldic power of flags and emblems, however obscure, and the lingering significance of the well-wrought counter-cultural slogan or logo, however out of time. This is complemented by a wide-ranging familiarity with the history of radical cultural politics over the past century, ultimately grounded, no doubt, in the artist’s upbringing in a (sometimes violently) contested political milieu. His is an art in which the Utopian ideals of the early Soviet era may be invoked alongside the atavistic emblematics of West Coast American punk bands like Black Flag.’ — Caoimhin Mac Giolla Leith (writer/curator)