David Bestué invites us to explore a collection of works that he has assembled under the title of Realismo (Realism). ‘Realism’ is a hard, intransigent term. It has been studied in Spain since the early 19th century at the Technical School of Highway, Canal and Port Engineering, situated just a few metres from the Palacio de la Moncloa, the official residence of Spain’s president. Here at the school, courses are taught that combine the rigours of calculus with those of the business sciences. It is not surprising that the combination, in a profession exercised almost exclusively by men and which has turned so many of them into the richest and most influential figures in the country, should have extended so far among the hierarchies of political power and have marked so significantly the historical direction taken by the nation.

This intransigent realism, this commodity bought and sold in an exclusive market -in ministerial offices, government departments and in the chairman’s box at some football clubs- has been supplemented in recent decades by an element of unexpected freedom: the computerisation of systems of calculating and the increasingly technical nature of construction. In these new circumstances, it began to throw off the straitjacket of earlier practices and to adopt in its forms a certain air of frivolity that later adapted itself perfectly to the need for a set of symbols keen to demonstrate -so it was said- the country’s progress, though in many cases it ended up exposing the boastful posturing with which the boldness of certain projects was paid. And so, without much thought on the matter by the uninhibited practice of engineering, sculpture was invoked as the formal referent of the experiment, and Bestué, surprised by the discrepancies in the comparison, began to wonder -evidently- whether we ought not to analyse this sudden interest from the perspective of art criticism.

Even though, as he himself says, Realismo points out that in the exhibits ‘weight, balance and gravity are not represented [but] are’ -and that we should take good note of it- the inevitability also leads to a universe containing an amalgam of a series of allusions to assorted ultratechnical worlds and extremely slippery calculations. Sooner or later, we will find ourselves encouraged to take various vanishing lines: archaeology, the speculative paroxysm of history and the construction of the nation associated with it; the body as the unit of measurement of the space and the experience that derives from exceeding the human scale; the consequences of the imposition of standards and the elimination of local variants; the ruination of deserted buildings on the outskirts; and the literary exploitation of the entropic imaginary that characterises the country’s geological morphology. These lines, among others, will help us to discern the value of the post-industrial epic that surrounds us.

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