Revisiting HOTEL NADA

Paintings and drawings from the 90s 


In the nineties, Yamandú Canosa began working on the project entitled Hotel Nada (1991-1993), which he presented in different exhibitions at the galleries Benet Costa and Ciento in Barcelona, the Centre de Lectura in Reus, and the gallery Rian Van Rijsbergen in Rotterdam. The entire project was shown at Arts Santa Mónica (CASM) in Barcelona and also at the art centers La Regenta and La Granja in the Canary Islands. Revisiting Hotel Nada recovers a series of important works from this project, placing them alongside other pieces that form part of its conceptual framework such as Incidente Aleph (1996).   


Hotel Nada is the precursor to operations occurring within the “landscape of language” situated at the center of the retrospective El árbol de los frutos diferentes (The Tree of Different Fruits) in 2011, at Fundació Suñol in Barcelona. In a recent interview, Yamandú Canosa reflected on this period:* “In a way, in 1988, I established the conceptual foundation of all my future work. It was liberating. An entire world appeared that I could wander through and begin to engage in dialogue with the contemporaneity. Ideas emerged that I have been expanding, refining and articulating ever since. Concepts that qualify the representational plane materialized: the plane as cartography, the plane as skin, the plane as concave space and the duration of the gaze. In Hotel Nada (1991-1993), cartography emerged as subject, based on, of course, the mythic drawing that Torres García made in Montevideo in 1935.** I discovered the narrative capacity of cartography. The genesis of Hotel Nada, however, was another journey to the limits suggested by my reading of Edie, the excellent biography of Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol’s muse. The book describes the atmosphere at the Chelsea Hotel in New York in the mid sixties, where dozens of people lived on the edge of experience, at its limit, along which they walked like clumsy tightrope walkers. While the titles of the works from Hotel Nada were room numbers, its subject was the construction of meaning. Images and words combined, disrupting metaphoric chains, saturating the representational plane with combinations that conveyed misleading signals about the very possibility of constructing meaning. The word “Nada” (“Nothing”) referred to the unnamed, to what existed outside the landscape of language or at its limit. I thought of myself as a linguistic “fifth columnist” boycotting the possibility of meaning. In a way, the intention of Hotel Nada was a formal reversal of the minimalist project, though with the same utopian urge to suspend meaning. Of course, I failed in the attempt. However, it was a passionate experience that left the trace of dozens of works and held out the possibility of abounding in the opening up of formal and conceptual resources.”     


*Interview by Christian Alonso for the Department of Art History and Aesthetics of the Universitat de Barcelona, for the group exhibition Matèria Primera (Raw Materials), at Fabra i Coats Centre d'Art Contemporani, in Barcelona (November 2017 / April 2018).

**Inverted America (1935). Published in Manifiesto de la Escuela del Sur (The School of the South Manifesto).



Yamandú Canosa (Montevideo, 1954)

In the 1970s, Yamandú Canosa began architecture studies in Montevideo and had his first solo exhibitions in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. In 1975, he moved to Barcelona, where he has been associated at different times with the galleries Joan Prats, Benet Costa and Ciento. Since then, he has had solo exhibitions in galleries, contemporary art centers and museums in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Salamanca, Figueres, Paris, Rotterdam, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles, among other cities.


His work has been included in retrospective exhibitions of Spanish art at the Queen Sofia Arts Center in Madrid, the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, the Albuquerque Museum in New Mexico, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and the Bass Museum in Miami.


In 2011, he presented El árbol de los frutos diferentes (The Tree of Different Fruits), a retrospective of the last 20 years of his work, at Fundació Suñol in Barcelona.


In 2012, he presented Detrás del muro (Behind the Wall) at the gallery Rafael Ortiz in Seville; the installation Hay lugar (There is a place) at the 1st Montevideo Art Biennial, and Vaivén (Swinging) at Xippas Arte Contemporáneo, also in Montevideo.


In 2014, he participated in Becarios Endesa 12, at the Teruel Museum; Cono sur (Southern Cone), at Xippas Arte Contemporáneo de Punta del Este (URU); and Latina, at Gallerie Xippas, in Geneva.


In 2015, he participated in El pensamiento oceánico (Oceanic Thought) at the EAC, in Montevideo, and exhibited recent work at Xippas Arte Contemporáneo.


In 2016, his work was included in the show TOC, at DA2 Domus Artium 2002, in Salamanca.    


In 2017, his work appeared in Matèria Primera (Raw Materials) as part of the presentation of the exhibition space Fabra i Coats Centre d'Art Contemporani in Barcelona, featuring a selection of contemporary Catalan art, and in Panorama, a selection of contemporary Uruguayan art, at Sala Subte in Montevideo.


Since 2015, he has had a studio in the Piramidón contemporary arts center in Barcelona.