“Del mausoleo al juego en cuatro imágenes / From the mausoleum to the playroom, in four images”—the essay written by the critic Rubén Gallo for La nave de los locos, the exhibition of works by Javier Téllez (b. 1969)—expresses the opinion of a well-known art critic, author of an extensive specialized bibliography, and Princeton University professor, which underscores the importance of, and international recognition achieved by the work produced by the Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez.
In his essay, Gallo’s comments on each of the installations at the exhibition expand to include his reflections on the museum, art, and artists. He agrees with Theodor W. Adorno who, in one of his essays, compared museums and works of art as follows: “museums are family tombs for works of art.” Téllez’s work allows Gallo to extrapolate Adorno’s remarks to the art market when he discusses one of the dioramas at the exhibition: an auction podium with a stuffed bear behind it. Gallo claims that this “evokes the close relationship that exists between the art market and the sepulchral function of a museum.”
This essay can be used as a guide by visitors to the exhibition. It describes, in detail, the objects, videos, and sounds, suggesting a possible reading—undoubtedly valuable and accurate—that nonetheless always expresses the critic’s own personal interpretation. It includes a reflection on the differences and similarities between a natural history museum and a contemporary art museum; it relates art to the act of playing when both are viewed through the prism of Freudian theories; it establishes etymological connections between concepts (“museum” and “mausoleum”), while also identifying conceptual art’s attempts (and failures), all of which is due to his determination to prevent contemporary works from fulfilling a “sepulchral function” in the museum. Gallo never attributes his interpretations to Téllez’s opinions, implying that his opinions are expressed in his works, which speak for themselves.
To read other material about Téllez’s work, see by Carmen Hernández “La extracción de la piedra de la locura: una instalación de Javier Téllez” ; the interview with Ruth Auerbach “Trobar clus: de cómo despistar al expectador” ; the interview with Manuel Lebon “Mi arte es un virus que vive en las grietas” ; the essay by Katherine Chacón “Javier Téllez” ; and the review by Ana María Mendoza “La pieza ‘Licantropía’ obtuvo el premio Eugenio Mendoza” .