Charris + Lejarraga: Piel de asno


CAB Centro de arte de Caja de Burgos.

The links between architecture and painting, their point of fusion, their own investigation of spaces and their exchange of formal and compositional concepts are evidenced in the exhibition Piel de Asno, from the hands of these two artists who, years ago, established a relationship of mutual understanding based on their creative curiosities. The exhibition Piel de Asno gathers together the outcome of the collaboration of these two artists over the last years, a symbiosis of painted surfaces and spaces, in the form of façades, domes, decorations and mixed genres in which architecture, like the princess in the fable by Perrault after which the exhibition takes its title, dresses in different clothes and leathers, changing the opinion viewers and users have of her. These inhabited paintings and tattooed spaces in which scales, narrative and different forms of representation play their part, and with which the artists invite a reflection on the “metamorphosing” capacity of appearance in the architectonic container of the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, CAB: in the authors’ words, the exhibition is about “ the symbolic element left behind when covering a piece of leather with another one, which does not change the constituent characteristics of the object, but leads to a change in the way it is perceived”



‘Piel de Asno’ is born from a commission of a small toy theatre in which the reproduced pieces would be the scenes of a hypothetical representation. Toy theatre, that had a great tradition in the Victorian time and at the beginning of XX century, was gradually disappearing and only remains as antiquity and in reissues for nostalgic collectors. The objective was to update the original sense of this toy but from the point of view of our time, with a new scenic space to conform the project.

Charris and Martin Lejarraga began to develop a piece in which, from a clear initial differentiation between scenic space and scenery, develop into another one in which the same panels helped to conform the basis where the scenes were developed. The pieces conceived this way had to be folded and let a modular use that helped to create the successive sceneries, linking architecture and painting like the skin and the bones of a character.

If at the beginning the small theatre was used for any class of representation, the search and the conversations during the process led to include, like a script or like a structural frame, the same essence, the main idea of the project: the relations between painting and architecture, the image of one of them reflected in the eyes of the other, through a theatrical text and images that refer to spaces, scales, appearances and architects, geniuses, heroes and constructors.

‘Piel de Asno’ is not only the title of the work which, in his extended version and in a larger scale than the toy theatre, appears in the rooms of the centre ‘CAB’ of Burgos, but also is the title of the play associated to it that aims to be represented between in this scenery.

The title refers to Perrault’s story in which a princess is seen in a wonderful way when she uses suits with the colours of the sky, the moon and the sun, and like a stinky and horrible creature when she covers herself with a donkey skin (‘Piel de Asno’), assuming the transforming power of the skin, the appearances, that last visible layer that has every person and every building.

Characters in the play use an eye like a mask. This unify them at a first moment but makes them different later, with their own characteristics, when we descover that those eyes belong to the collector Eli Broad, an anonymous student and a group of famous architects: Jean Nouvel, Kazujo Sejima, Liz Diller, Norman Foster, Frank Lloyd Wright, Cindy Sherman (although under the disguise of Ray Eames) and Gary Cooper (who represents the archetype of architect in his role of Howard Roak in ‘The fountainhead’ from Ayn Rand and King Vidor).