Critics’ Picks

View of “Monday: Firework; Tuesday: Illuminations; Wednesday: Revolution,” 2010.

View of “Monday: Firework; Tuesday: Illuminations; Wednesday: Revolution,” 2010.

Brussels

Angel Vergara Santiago

Argos Centre for Art and Media
Werfstraat 13 rue du Chantier
April 24–June 19, 2010

The enigmatically titled “Monday: Firework; Tuesday: Illuminations; Wednesday: Revolution” is a surprising exhibition, comprising a wide-ranging installation by Spanish-born Belgian artist Angel Vergara Santiago. The work on view includes a copy of a fake newspaper, six paintings (vintage lithographs printed on canvas and reworked with oil paint), two display cases containing historical documents and objects, a rug with black-and-white text imprinted on it (reminiscent of Marcel Broodthaers), and seven videos projected on screens suspended in the exhibition space. The videos superimpose excerpts of television newscasts, reconstructions of historical scenes featuring authentic costumes, and shots of the painter’s hand smearing the surface of the screen with multicolored strokes.

It appears that Belgium, with its social and political complexity, is the main topic of this exhibition. The show explores how the nation itself is a confused entity, an intermingling of cultures currently in a state of conflict. To an extent, the textual and visual information layered within the different components of the work can lead viewers astray. But rather than seeming distracting or tiring, this mixture is for the most part precisely what commands attention on both conceptual and formal levels. In fact, it seems that confusion is central to the artist’s concerns; the exhibition offers many questions regarding Vergara Santiago’s relationship to art, as well as commenting on current events and the art market. By seeking new approaches to form, incorporating a conceptual heritage, and raising unresolved questions, the artist has created a truly original exhibition.