Disassembling Paradise 

Sergio Vega

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On View
April 2013- 
July 2013

Kabe Contemporary is proud to present the exhibition “Disassembling Paradise” by artist Sergio Vega.

 

The works of Sergio Vega are best understood in the context of what Paulo Herkenhoff defines as “the inexistent plausible”. This term indicates that the very nature of the work is to be entirely hypothetical, yet persuasive in its plausibility. In the case of Sergio Vega’s work, his hypotheses furnish a plausible reality: that of “Latin American Art”.

 

With the series “Parrot Color Charts”, Vega is proposing an alternative way to mythologize abstract art as a Latin Americanist construct. Let’s image that Piet Mondrian (endowed with his remarkable color-purist and geometric sensibilities) was not born in a small city in Netherlands but in a tribal environment in the Amazon. Thus, it is plausible that Mondrian would have been interested in parrots.

 

Since parrot’s plumage embodies the most complete color chart of the natural kingdom, they would have been an endless reservoir of inspiration for the artist, as much as they have always been for native societies. The series “Parrot color charts” involves photographs of parrots cropped and presented as sources of colors. Cloned from individual pixels in the photographs these colors are reproduced in the adjacent geometric planes that make up the grid composition. This tautological relationship between referent (photo) and signifier (color) could be equivalent to exhibiting a painting and along with it, the paint tubes, the palette and the brushes used to mix the colors that went into the making of the painting. In addition, the visual harmony created by the color scheme and the contiguity of photographic image along with non-representational abstract form point to a paradoxical impossibility of translation.

 

The artist sustains that: “Based on Roland Barthes’ assertion that photography is a message without a code, the unavoidable result of abstraction would be to produce a code without a message”. Thus, what kind of code can be employed to translate the message of colorful geometric compositions featuring photographs of parrots? What is the message these parrots have for us? Is it the use of language outside signification? Or is it the intrinsic purity of color as found in nature?

 

The project “Shanty Nucleus After Derrida 2″, (previously shown at the Museum of the Americas in Washington DC), was inspired by the installation series titled “Nucleus” that artist Helio Oiticica’s made between 1960 and 1963. Vega’s project borrows from Oiticica’s work the display of color planes suspended in space. Yellow constructions of plastic material hung down from the ceiling creating an array of formations and walkways that enable a “penetrable” interactive viewing experience. Photographic images taken by the artist representing precarious and informal dwellings and low-income housing projects in Brazil have been dissected and inserted onto the sculptural configurations of colored planes. By destabilizing the logic between image and support, these images of precarious constructions establish a dialectical relationship with the pristine constructed nature of the installation that contains them. “Deconstruction exists in its applications as shantytowns exist in the context of the city – eccentrically. Their emergence can be interpreted as a response to the city’s hegemonic centralized entity. Shantytowns come into being as a deconstruction of the city in the most literal sense; these precarious, informal dwellings are often erected from recycled materials discarded by the city and its industries”.

 

The projects featured in the exhibition explore the critical insertion of photography within the language of abstraction. The “Parrot color charts” series engage the theme of nature as “utopian/exotic” in relation to geometric art and the function of “sampling” in digital technology. The installation “Shanty nucleus after Derrida 2″ addresses imagery of vernacular architecture in a complex network of procedures that involve applications of Deconstruction and collage. For the artist, the colonial term “Latin American Art” (because of its mythologies, conceptual contradictions and historical discontinuities) remains a fertile ground, an immanent plane of endless possibilities not only to recreate plausible approaches to art making, but also to reinvent art altogether.

 

1 O inexistente plausível, Brasil Desfocos (o olho de fora), Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 2007, Paulo Herkenhoff, pp. 127-129

 

2 Parrot Theory, Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris, 2009, Sergio Vega, pg 42.