KINDERDIJK’S REVIEW: “They have a rotating cap and permanent body ” -Leonardo Vargas

“They have a rotating cap and permanent body” presents the work that Artist Leonardo Vargas developed during his residence time in Kinderdijk project.  It constitutes a heterogeneous body of work that connects his own research with Kinderdijk project’s space. In this case, painting as a historically charged traditional artistic system of representation is the object of inquiry.

The first room of the exhibition -used as a white cube room- holds a couple of works (ripped canvases showing the wooden structure behind them) that could be considered as a note following the tradition of abstraction in its aim to reveal painting’s own specificities as media. In the centre of the room an installation in which  a “zapping” -as he refers to it- is presented; a compound object containing different kinds of fragmented visual information as traces, as what is left after an accident in which referents have almost completely lost their  integrity  as well as painting itself, which adapts different uses and applications that collide at the same time in the work (the clean flat colored bars-reminiscent of advertising sing painting-  the dirty and careless brushstrokes on the back , the use of regular house paint and the random spatters).  The physicality of the work seems to provide a container and contradict the nature of the unstable visual network it presents, in which signs (as elementary components of a system) are taken just to be broken.

Leonardo Vargas “Around 17:00” Installation. 2011

“Around 17:00” (Detail)

“Around 17:00” (Back View)

An old empty garage not as lightened as the first room holds an installation in which painting as a self reflective tradition entangles again with a more prosaic approach to it.  The installation is set on the floor at the right corner at the end of the room, so when seen for the first time there is a distance almost from one extreme of the room to the other. While walking to get closer, you may notice the random stains and spatters on the dark floor –someone was painting something there-. The installation:  a group of abstract paintings alongside bricks, tiles, cement bags and paint stained cardboard boxes containing different materials for construction. The squares removed from the canvases are treated as fragments, the same way as the paintings themselves shown on the floor and against the wall like tiles covering an area (that could resemble an altar or a tomb) setting a strong presence that claims the whole space of the room.  One of the walls shows a small series of instant photos. At first sight it may look like there was nothing to see on them but a black area.  Only when you get close you start to distinguish baroque- like figures of abstract ornaments, the shape of a portrait, or some familiar scene of a XVII century painting that resists to be reproduced again by a camera.

The two installations presented in the last room (completely darkened) play themselves and between each other specifically with the idea of presence in painting. In one of the extremes of the room “Godmother’s Assistant”- a multi layered video installation- shows a painting (not on a wall but more as an actual object) literally on stage as if it were performing in some kind of theatrical play. The painting itself contains a reproduced image: an altered version of “Las Meninas” in which some of the characters are cut or repeated and the little princess holds Duchamp’s ‘’Large Glass”.  The same image was used before in another of  Leonardo’s  works as a cover for a notebook presented framed behind a glass, but this time, paint was applied on the image in a gestural way and the stage is not a  frame for the painting but a space inside a cupboard with curtains. Video footage of one of his own paintings is projected on both the stage and the object to present painting in a more virtual state, so the play of theoretical contents within the reproduced image on the object becomes irrelevant to give space for a reflection on stages, scenes and presence.

At the opposite extreme of the room “Third Act” presents the same image of the painting on stage from the previous installation in a projection that occupies all the space on the wall. The projected image is actually facing the painting itself, suggesting the idea of a mirror relation. However, the image on the wall is not exactly the same as in the painting but an uncanny variation of it.  The projection is also presented as a stage with curtains and objects that belonged to the former inhabitants of the house creating a connection between virtual presence, physical space, and time.

Kinderdijk project’s  surroundings (the open landscape at night, the old abandoned barns) also triggered or were used as an excuse to work on that idea through an intervention in which a Video piece produced from footage of paintings made during the residency time was projected in big scale on the outer space a few days before the opening.

You can see the artist’s notes during the process, more images and documentation here:

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