For this exhibition, Abigail Lazkoz, presents a series of large-scale works on paper acting as a site-specific installation. Lazkoz’s new drawings depict a cross-section of a graveyard revealing an array of characters in compromising arrangements. Upon entering the installation, the viewer is thrust into a cemetery where not only are the headstones visible, but also the inhabitants of the graves. Although the headstones are adorned with straightforward descriptive messages, the complexity arises upon viewing the contents of the tombs and the written messages simultaneously. Lazkoz converges dark humor and existentialism to construct social, political and historical references. The place or era is unclear; antiquated backdrops are paired with contemporary characters integrating cultures, thoughts and neurosis. The title of the exhibition references the period of time that Homo sapiens sapiens – the modern human being – first appeared on earth; at the same time scientists also concluded that the first burial rituals conducted by humans took place 130,000 years ago.
While Lazkoz’s work incorporates contemporary social and governmental politics, it is also deeply influenced by traditional Spanish painting. This series in particular is an explicit homage to the tradition of metaphysical still lifes in Spanish painting, particularly those of Juan Sanchez Cotán (ca.1560-1627), Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) and Francisco de Goya (1748-1828), among others. Lazkoz maintains this traditional approach by choosing to eliminate color from her work, stating that black and white is a “frugal language suitable for a war economy”. Each drawing, formally rigorous and painstakingly detailed, is a combination of discomfort, struggle and psychological complexity; always pessimistic, and always conveying a quiver of hope, Lazkoz successfully straddles irony with sincerity.