Inserting Matter Painting into a Space

 

Jorge Sarsale explores the materiality of paper, using abstract vocabulary to incorporate his pieces into the space around them, creating a quasi-poetic aura. He goes from two-dimensionality and texture, everyday simplicity and the pictorial realm to creating a dialog with the third dimension.

 

His work delves into a visual experiment of sorts, with each piece offering various viewing points, depending on the distance from which it is observed. As we approach, we discover that what looked like brushstrokes from afar is actually the aggregate of countless strips of tissue paper that, stuck one on top of the other, superimposed or wrinkled, merge with their support –canvas, wall or both. Paper, the central figure in the Argentinean artist’s work, addresses the spectator conversationally and proposes the game of moving forward and backward with respect to the piece, so that while strolling through the gallery space, the public discovers that the artist has been painting with paper.

 

The playing actually begins previously, when the paper is put through a manual shredder, the length of the strips defined, adjusted and stuck onto the support. The latter step is vital, with the creative process taking shape and the main actor, the paper, taking on the nature the artist imbues it with. It is transformation and creation through a personal vocabulary: the ability to offer a pictorial effect with a non-pictorial material.

 

The poetic register merges with the assessment of stroke, acquiring a look that projects “matter writing”, which, the product of all the shredded paper strips together, offers that concurrently three-dimensional as well as pictorial result. An outcome enveloped in a broad range of abstraction that verges, at times, on a signic and even gestural nature. This phase, which might seem like a process of improvisation, gradually frees itself of the automatic aspect as it takes control of the variables of the paper, to conceive the work at a stage prior to its being mounted on a stretcher or wall.

 

The abstraction implicit in the exhibit Mar de Fondo is, at times, reminiscent of Barnet Newman’s *1 (1905-1970) abstract expressionism, being formulated from an idea, so that the elements comprising it take on their own independence in relation to the outside world.

 

Jorge Sarsale does not aspire to transcend the absolute, like New York School artists, nor does he intend to penetrate the universe or lost faith; his is rather an earthly plane and thus explores material. However, from the formal point of view, as he lures the spectator into the game, he approaches the abstract expressionist’s work by presenting strips of newspaper, phonebook or tissue paper, like flat brushstrokes of colors, geometric and highly simplified. In reality, though, he goes beyond, by creating a maze of velaturas by means of the shredded paper glued on several layers, whose chromatic transparencies are gradually revealed during the game of visual proximity and distance, an experience that may have poetic and even meditative moments.

 

In this sense, the paper, rather than the brushstroke, leaves it mark. It approaches gestural abstraction, an offshoot, also, of a type of collage in which the material fuses with itself, providing the flat support, a solid and textured aspect, a material dimension in which chromatic juxtapositions interact with the resulting gestures. Through economy of media and the use of an extremely plain and basic material, the works have a minimalist quality, though not by adhering to the equation less is more but rather through the choice of that primary structure.

 

By bestowing importance on the material, Jorge Sarsale goes one step further, liberating it from the framework and allowing it to spread spatially and make its way into architectural interstices. The support thus turns into another field of exploration by merging with the piece and vice versa. Both works lack borders, able to freely extend up and down and side to side, creating a network of formal relationships without the need for restrictive frames. The first one encompasses two adjacent gallery walls, contrasting the black of the paper with the white of the wall and vice versa, while the second, despite having been done with rough strips of paper from an Argentinean telephone book, is highly esthetic and abstract. In the latter installation, countless names, addresses and telephone numbers accumulate randomly, creating a bridge of communication with the spectator, although not by telephone but through visual contact.

 

Mar de Fondo sails on an ocean in which the focal object does not attempt to preserve or conceal the appearance of its material: it enters the pictorial realm and vice versa. It presents the way the artist approaches the environment, intervening in it and appropriating every particle of both the empty spaces that speak and those that keep quiet. Within such a formal process, texture plays an essential role, becoming autonomous and freeing itself of all iconographic meaning: transforming sensations, moods(?), tactilely charged  and moving in space.

 

*1 A member of the New York School, Newman reacted to the crisis of faith that arose following the Second World War. Like Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1971), they make use of their internal visions, based on surrealism, thus opening a new exploratory phase in North American art history.

 

Laura Pomerantz, Santa Monica, CA, 2012.

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