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Oxymoron Twins, 2014

Installation, 110 x 80.1 x 110.1 cm

Drawings, photographs, books and physical objects dialogue on the stage-like space of a table. This installation should be seen in the wider context of Javier Peñafiel’s work, which includes books, notebooks of collages, intervened diaries or other elements in which words and language play a key role. Oxymoron Twins, ‘a table for two books and objects’, as the artist himself describes it, plays repeatedly with the notion of the double. Moreover, to the idea of twins should be added the rhetorical figure of the oxymoron, the juxtaposition of two concepts of opposite meaning that generates perplexity or surprise.

Peñafiel places two open books on either side of a higher-than-usual square table. One of them, with white paper pages, contains small illustrations based on a toothbrush. The other, with black cardboard pages, contains colour photographs showing a toothbrush on a table interacting with various small objects. On the table, between one book and the other, are some commonplace objects. The artist explains the centrality of these objects of almost universal use, such as the toothbrush: ‘On the table there is a recurring theme that runs through my work: that of hygiene and fear. The toothbrush appears when I want to work on shared fears, the difficulty of oral narration and communicable pleasure.’

Associated with fear, the installation also refers to the totalitarianism of contemporary ways of life, through which we steer with a toolbar imposed by the subtle mechanisms of biopolitics. Against social control, the artist puts his faith in the power of fantasy. ‘Today everything is the object of a Totalitarian Toolbar and our condition is also editable. With this work, I suggest that what we call oxymoron is a scene played by two twin brothers, whom I call Oxímoron and Oximorón, each with a different accent; a scene that has to be edited by fantasy, not with a toolbar.’

Technical details

Original title:
Oxymoron Twins
Registration number:
Peñafiel, Javier
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan
Object type:
Various materials
110 x 80.1 x 110.1 cm (height x width x depth)
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan. National Collection of Contemporary Art
© Javier Peñafiel
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