Gambit Weekly – New Orleans, LA

August 19, 2008, Volume 29, Number 34

 

Fiber Optics

By D. Eric Bookhardt

 

 

Jorge Sarsale, Ecos de Otra Historia, 2004, Paper on Canvas

It's all a matter of perspective — but what kind of perspective? Most of us think we know what we're looking at most of the time, but we're actually trained to see the world in what's called "single point" or "optical" perspective. It is well established that if you take a photograph of a landscape and show it to aboriginal people who have never been exposed to modern media, they won't know what they're looking at even if it's a picture of their own backyard. In fact, the random-seeming compositions of prehistoric cave paintings are actually closer to the way people saw prior to the camera obscura in the 15th century, so what we regard as "renaissance," or "single point," perspective is really optically conditioned perception. One could argue that we're a bunch of zombies who have been trained to see the world like roving cameras on legs.

With that in mind, it's not hard to understand why some Modernists might have wanted to start over from scratch, and artists have been starting over from scratch ever since. Argentine artist Jorge Sarsale stays focused on surface geometry in starkly graphic compositions that resemble paintings but are actually constructions cobbled from many delicately cut strips of lightweight paper attached to canvas. Area de Resonancia 4 is a square canvas with many little, multicolored rectangles arranged in slightly irregular rows like so many books on shelves. In tropical shades of canary, tangerine, burnt orange, ultraviolet and black, they vibrate like abstract, album-jacket graphics on 1950s modern jazz recordings.

In Area de Resonancia 2, similar rows of vertical paper strips appear in tones closer to pale cork or bamboo, a look that recalls those Japanese straw tatami mats — maybe a mystical tatami mat for a minimalist meditation.

Ecos de Otra Historia offers another approach, as tightly aligned strips of darker and lighter shades of gray suggest modernist architecture until you see the ethereal paper construction, and then it becomes Asian in effect all over again. All of this is set off by Eso, an installation of dark lines like assertive splotches of tar. Closer inspection reveals them to be strips of delicate, dark paper stuck to the wall like so many I-Ching hexagrams, a dialogue of order and chaos. The show, overall, is abstractly architectonic, but the ethereal texture of the paper lends a delicate, airy quality, a subtle breath of life.

The acrylic and resin paintings by Arturo Mallman at Bienvenu could not be more different. A New Mexico artist originally from Uruguay, Mallman is preoccupied with the horizon line, and his preferred approach is atmospheric rather than single-point perspective. Atmospheric perspective, called "sfumato" by Renaissance painters, refers to the way smoke or mist obscures distant objects while closer objects seem clearer, if still softly focused. Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is an example of subtle sfumato, but Mallman uses it to create an effect of distant people or foliage in a foggy landscape where the sun is just an eerie glow in the background. Sealed in a heavy layer of clear resin, his moody landscapes convey a sense of depth like images emerging in a crystal ball, or maybe the visions of existentialist saints.

New York artist Jim Napierala's acrylic- and aluminum-leaf paintings on wood return us to the realm of surface geometry, only here the painted forms are curvaceous traceries of color in compositions that suggest harlequinlike patterns of swirling motion. Although he says he's inspired by Byzantine icons, his San Expedito is actually an alternate name for St. Expedite, one of New Orleans' unofficial patron saints, and it's uncanny to picture St. Expedite as a kind of harlequin/whirling dervish of swirling forms in this crescent-shaped city, where even the most solemn procession becomes a dance somewhere along the way.

GAMBIT WEEKLY-NEW ORLEANS, LA

 

Fibra óptica

 

Todo es cuestión de perspectiva - pero, de qué clase de perspectiva? La mayoría de nosotros cree saber que es lo que estamos viendo la mayor parte del tiempo, pero en realidad hemos sido entrenados a ver el mundo desde lo que llamamos «punto único», o perspectiva óptica. Se sabe que si tomamos una fotografía de un paisaje y se la mostramos a aborígenes que no han tenido ninguna exposición a los medios modernos, no  sabrán que es lo que están viendo, aunque se trate de una fotografía de algo tan familiar como el fondo de su propia casa. Es un hecho que, las aparentemente caprichosas composiciones de las cuevas prehistóricas están más cerca de la manera de ver del ser humano que precediera a la mirada desde la cámara oscura del siglo XV. De manera que aquello que conocemos como  perspectiva «renacentista» o   «punto de fuga» es en realidad una percepción óptica condicionada. Podríamos argumentar que somos una horda de zombies entrenados a ver el mundo como si fuéramos cámaras rodantes/cámaras móviles.

Desde esa perspectiva, no es difícil comprender porqué algunos Modernistas podrían haber querido comenzar de cero. Y, desde entonces, los artistas plásticos vuelven a comenzar siempre como si fuera la primera vez,

El artista Argentino Jorge Sarsale mantiene su foco sobre la geometría de la superficie, en composiciones gráficas despojadas que se asemejan a pinturas aunque son, en realidad, construcciones en las que se entretejen delicadas tiras de papel liviano adheridas a la tela. Area de Resonancia 4 es una tela cuadrada donde muchos pequeños rectángulos multicolores ordenados en filas levemente irregulares se asemejan a libros ordenados sobre los estantes de la biblioteca. En tonos tropicales de color amarillo canario, mandarina, naranja quemada, ultravioleta y negro los rectángulos vibran como la gráfica de las fundas de álbum de discos de jazz de los años cincuenta.

En Area de Resonancia 2, filas de tiras de papel similares  aparecen en tonos más cercanos a un color corcho pálido o bambú, con reminiscencias de tatamis japoneses - tatamis místicos quizás para una meditación minimalista.

Ecos de otra historia muestra otra manera de acercamiento: en apretado alineamiento, las tiras de papel de color gris en tonos claros y oscuros remiten a la arquitectura modernista, aunque luego, cuando vemos la etérea construcción de papel, el efecto nuevamente evoca lo Asiático. Todo esto se acentúa en el contexto de Eso, una instalación de líneas oscuras que parecen audaces manchones de alquitrán. Al acercarnos, sin embargo,  aparecen delicadas tiras de papel adheridas a la pared como hexa-gramas del  I-Ching: un diálogo entre el orden y el caos.

El primer impacto es el de una obra arquitectónica en un sentido abstracto, luego, la textura etérea del papel le otorga una delicadeza, un aire de levedad, que es como un soplo de vida.  

 

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