José Montealegre – Nervous System

José Montealegre – Nervous System

20.8. – 16.10.2022

Opening: Friday, 19.8.2022, 7 pm

In his first institutional solo exhibition Nervous System at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, José Montealegre will continue his ongoing series of works from 2020 titled Página. The starting point for these sculptures is an extensive botanical archive of plant illustrations known colloquially as “Nova Plantarum” which was created in Mexico during the Spanish colonization. This archive saw the catalogization and re-systematization of hundreds of indigenous plants by Spanish colonizers. With great respect to detail, the artist translates these botanical illustrations into copper sculptures. In a site-specific installation, they are presented on the second floor of the Kunstverein in an indoor and outdoor space. In his artistic practice, which also includes writing, Montealegre tells stories that blur the line between origin and (mis)translation. Contrary to knowledge shaped by colonial powers, the artist allows marginalized perspectives to emerge thus challenging canonical history(ies).

The exhibition is followed by the first publication of José Montealegre.


One. Like a protagonist cartoon drawing entering the revolving snout of a concrete goosebump city like for example, New York, my brass buckled leather briefcase snaps unshut and all of my papers fly away.
Now I’m late. Now I’m poor. Now I have dreams. Now they fly away.

Two. It is awfully obvious that any conversation about the methodologies of art begins and surely ends with life. Begins because it is the spring which taps the well. Ends because bloated goldfish prey for hawks.

Three. Document whirlwind. Paper cut city. The nerve, the nerves, nervous nerve of steel. The page tornado scatters order and logic, thus rendering the business pitch to be delivered into an unintelligible levitation where burocracy has no grasp and the tendril teather fails to anchor root. A misfiring neuron is perhaps what you have.


Text excerpt: José Montealegre

Curator: Miriam Bettin


José Montealegre (*1992 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras) lives and works in Berlin. He studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Centroamericana de Managua, Nicaragua, and with Willem de Rooij at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Klosterruine in Berlin, Mountains in Berlin (both 2021), Convent Art Space in Ghent (2019), The Fort in Brooklyn (2017) and in group exhibitions including Dortmunder Kunstverein (upcoming), Lantz’scher Skulpturenpark Lohausen in Düsseldorf (2021), Städelmuseum in Frankfurt am Main, Natalia Hug in Cologne (both 2019), Futura Gallery in Prague, Gillmeier Rech in Berlin (both 2018), and Kunsthalle Darmstadt (2017, 2014).


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