Esteban Igartua

08/04/2009 - 09/05/2009

Esteban Igartua’s detailed, laboured drawings and exquisite jewel-like paintings describe a world, perhaps of the future or maybe the past. These works bring to mind a sort of purgatory, a sense of endless waiting, the impossibility of escape.

The clusters of human beings surviving on waste ground and bare hillsides are despairing. The compositions of these works are classical, yet refer to a modern scarred and torn world, a place were all human intelligence is gathered just to enable survival.

The skill in the draftsmanship is absorbing, and the detail of these tiny paintings ensures that the viewer misses nothing of the features and surfaces of each face and limb. The scenes, though produced entirely from the artists imagination, are commonly familiar, tenderly crafted; there is an ambivalence between horror and the human relationships that are clearly formed between the characters that dwell, sometimes only half drawn, in Igartua’s works.

In these works, where the intense pencil drawn image hovers in the centre of an otherwise empty sheet of paper, we are made aware of the artist’s hand, the decisions that are made to start and then stop. The heads and features of the characters, either alone, or in such close proximity to one another that they might be sharing the same as yet, un-drawn body, are miniature, perhaps they come from another world, a world of the small.

Lucy Byatt, british curator