ALVARO NEGRO Print

 
"BATTERSEA STATION", 2003.
Duratrans montado en caja de luz. 52 x 36 cms. Edición 5.


"BATTER", 2003.
Duratrans montado en caja de luz.
75 x 100 cms. Edición 3.


"LAS SOMBRAS MENDIGAS DEL ESCENARIO De A1/02"
Fotografía sobre papel mate sobre aluminio.
Poliptico: 4 x (81 x 100 cms. c/u.). Edición 3.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. 100 x 100 cms.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. Díptico 80 x 130 cms. c/u.


Untitled (LATITUDES), 2004.
Esmalte sobre espejo. Díptico 240 x 80 cms. c/u.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. 230 x 80 cms.

"Ok! Inside, Time and Outside".
Solo show at Madrid Fúcares Gallery.
From May 5 to June 4, 2005.

Álvaro Negro (Lalín, Pontevedra, 1973) is an artist who introduces himself as a painter, although analysing the genre with the most recent developments in mind and always taking its history into account, that is to say, seeking the guiding threads of the most up-to-date pictorial questions in tradition. And so, it should come as no surprise that his artistic practice also reveals itself in photography or video; that the interrelation with the architecture of the exhibition space is the starting point of many of his pictorial decisions, and that he has complemented all this with theoretical texts like those published in the recent book Sky Shout. A pintura despois da pintura, co-written with the critic and curator of David Barro's eponymous exhibition. Reading these texts we will notice that we are before an artist who is aware of the current state of the genre's dissolution, but also that certain subject-matters, when analysed, belong to a tradition older than what some would have us believe. A good example can be found in the text El fin del fin de la pintura [The End of Painting], in which he inquires into the origins of the historical processes leading the genre to its cyclical deaths and resurrections. Thus, we are before an artist who positions himself ideologically through aesthetics - who still believes that, despite the failure of the modernist period, the fact of its continuation is still useful, but of course, beyond stylistic-formalistic revivals devoid of content.

The title of the exhibition refers to a space-time situation in a rather abstract and even poetic manner, but also and at once, it can be literally read as a proclamation on everyday life and the extraordinary in the vision of reality, as if it were a constant exteriority internalised in time in its creative process, captured in the duration of an instant. This is made evident in some of his videographical works, like Sombra de Bodegón [Shadow of Still-Life], a piece that first introduces us into the gallery spaces and shows the distance travelled by the projected shadow from a glass on the wall up to its almost total fade-out - a process taking almost twelve minutes. The image resembles a charcoal drawing, sheer chiaroscuro where light and shade move to the rhythm of time and in time to the wind, whose blowing also moves the tree-leaves and gives off, in turn, the movement of its out-of-focus shadow at the foot of the image. From the window, the sun light projected the film with no added device, as a shadow theatre that only had to be framed and filmed for several days, the artist studied the journey of the sun across space, noting down the times where the image that interested him emerged, that is, where the light conjugated with composition, frame and a more or less chance arrangement of the objects. Finally, he let the "drawing" - that's how the artist puts it - flow in time. Many of his other videos follow a similar modus operandi: Luz recorriendo el estudio [Light Travelling Through the Workshop], Cuadro y luz [Painting and Light] or Manna Ash Room , in which light - as their titles depict - marks the tempo of the scene both in fluctuations and in the gradual increase in its intensity. This is also tackled in the work placed by the artist in the second room, Luz en balcón [Light on Balcony], whose three screens join formally through the line, as a consequence of the sun light falling on the water drops on the banister of a balustrade. Each image focuses on the same detail, the flashes and the decomposition of light in the shape of a rainbow. Both its intensity in the foreground and the wooded bottom of the street move in unison, to the rhythm of the autumn wind that also causes the shedding of leaves (this work was filmed in the same space-time frame as Sombra de Bodegón , in a house in the London district of Bermondsey). Certainly, a melancholy air can be detected, but always from a frame where objectivity over daily life always prevails, the leading role of the phenomenological or, even, as is the case here, of the meteorological - although this is at a minimalist level. As to the edition, in this work we must highlight the blank spaces, the 5-second gaps that interrupt the flow of the mirage almost like a flickering, sometimes in long intervals of over a minute, less spaced-out in others, amounting to a sum total of only a few seconds.

The chiaroscuro of these first two rooms is completed in the first with the work Las sombras mendigas del escenario de Alex Zika [Begging Shadows on Alex Zika's Stage], four photographs that, made as if to appear like vignettes, narrate the encounter of two shades with a body lying down- that of the artist himself. The space gives off a somewhat dream-like and unreal, even ghostly look, but mostly representational or symbolic, due to the black and white or the hazy image resolution and by the stage design itself: the mural of drawings on the bottom wall, the halo of light entering the stage diagonally - in the manner of baroque spaces -, the weird furniture. Negro filmed himself conducting different actions in order to then select different shots with the positions of the figures and start building a story, in which what is not told or is simply suggested has greater import. It all may consist of a lost scene in a film with angels who want to be human again, mortal, who want to feel again, as Damiel in Der Himmel über Berlin [The Sky Over Berlin], a clear reference to the play of colour (body), black and white (angel/spectator's glance); but what is still more evident - and this also applies to Sombra de Bodegón - is that Álvaro Negro is highly interested in how shadow has marked the history of Western art. Here we can also quote Victor I. Stoichita and what he says about another self-portrait: that of Poussin's in 1650: "The important thing in that representation (...) is that both shadow and the name (POVSSINI) are projected on a canvas prepared and unused as yet. This canvas is there not because the artist is about to paint anything on it, but as a compositional tool. Poussin's painting is not a "production scene", but a "representational scene". Therefore, the "shadow over the painting" does not refer so much to the act of painting (...) as to the trait of similarity. Here the shadow ends a discourse on the perfect mimesis: it is the height of a tradition that had started in the Quattrocento". In the case of Sombras mendigas, that "representational scene" is maintained, although of course, it does not have so much to do with mimetic discourse as with certain existentialist poetics on the uprooting and decomposition of the individual, and one can even sense a certain concealed violence. Let's conclude, then, that this work might be a fictionalised self-portrait in the guise of a dream or even a nightmare.

The exhibition closes in the last room - the one on the largest scale - with the work of a more pictorial nature. Thus, the very perspective from the entrance door shows us the arrangement on the floor of an abstract work elucidated between the fluid gesture of painting and the reflection of the space itself on the medium-mirror: in the interior space, we already see that it works almost like an axis that marks the movements of the viewer, inviting to a movement that emphasises the union between the temporal and the visual character, and we literally accompany and read the image following a beginning and an end that can be redressed or that could even prompt us to make a loop where the viewer chooses the direction in which he is to follow the exhibits. Therefore, it is indispensable to talk here about painting and temporality, even about the gesture-instant, frozen with a lineal reading order marked by a determined pulse or rhythm. That is to say, in the pictorial act the image appears at the same time that the running of the palette knife over the surface, in an exercise where decisions are taken in real time, slowly but in an instant. In this sense, the artist would rather talk of "surface tracking", of movement rather than of gesture, for it may be that in terms of processes, there is more mechanism than subjectivism, an action that obtains an image through disclosure or even - by photographic analogy - through development. Thus, it would be advisable to underline - despite all formal differences - the conceptual relationships established in his work among painting, photography or video; that no man's land which is the current territory of research for many artists and where Ramón Esparza also places Álvaro Negro's work: "Video is not but a different way to tackle the problems of a painting where reflection over time was already present. When all's said and done, his 'celluloids' reveal a time of production that Western painting has tried to hide for several centuries. If the 'celluloids' are the result of the shift of light, of an additional process of different spatial locations, then why not view the process itself?" Yes, it is perhaps there where the clue of the images made by this artist is found, in the visualisation of processes, either shifts of lights or shadows, or the flowing of a painting on a surface, or exercises on the most abstract linguistic codes of the image - like in his most extensive pictorial series: Luzpincolour.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. Díptico 66 x 66 cms. c/u.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. Díptico 66 x 66 cms. c/u.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. 185 x 120 cms.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. 86 x 56 cms.


Untitled , 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. 86 x 56 cms.


Untitled, 2005.
Esmalte sobre aluminio. Díptico 100 x 100 cms. c/u.