Caracas

Sigfredo Chacón

Galeria Namia Mondolfi

Sigfredo Chacón’s recent work makes use of two apparently different series of procedures that nevertheless correspond to an identical intention. Chacón uses wooden structures in the shape of a frame which he coats with a thick layer of acrylic. Some of the paintings frame the empty wall on which they are hung, while on others a bed of transparent plastic allows us to observe the traces of the process of construction.

There is a clear contradiction between the forms used by Chacón as a support and the treatment of this support as object. In the history of modern painting, the frame is an iconic element endowed with its own value, a virtual readymade that immediately refers to the relationship between figure and ground, and to the frame as an ambiguous limit between the work of art and the world. In Chacón’s work, these eloquent references to painting as an autonomous exercise are found literally submerged by a luxurious covering that seems to drown the apparent conceptual sobriety from which they have been structured in material excess. The choice of colors makes this tension between formal autonomy and sensory overflow even more apparent: to the sober black and white is added a violent yellow of the kind frequently used in traffic signals; against the tedious presence of the monochromes are superimposed chromatic combinations with an almost confectionery appearance, as if in their sensorial excess the paintings were trying to acquire a tangible presence capable of competing with their pure visual attractiveness.

The process through which the pieces are constructed—acrylic is poured over the wooden frames laid on the ground—defies the verticality to which the paintings would otherwise be destined; they tend toward an extension of their “objecthood,” which would inexorably project them into the space beyond the wall. This literally occurred in this exhibition, which included two pieces arranged on the floor of the gallery, thereby marking the tension between the works’ pictorial quality and their “objecthood” once again. This playful interchangeability among the pieces—from paintings to objects, from sculptures to empty frames—reflects Chacón’s rejection of the conceptual discourse (elaborated by Modernism) of the organicism of pictorial practice, as well as his own view of that history as more akin to a landscape of ruins. The apparent oppositions between painting and object, formal autonomy and external reference, are perforce emptied of meaning. They become simple hallucinations, signs of a more profound and enigmatic contradiction woven into the desire for totality characteristic of every discourse and the imposing presence of the fragmentary and enigmatic that beats within every object.

This is the space defined by Chacón’s recent work: the history of Modern painting as the staging of a series of unresolvable contradictions with which it is only possible to operate efficiently if we begin by considering as “writing”—and, by extension, as a process of signification abandoned to chance and arbitrariness—what we used to think of as successive steps in a single, organic development.

Carlos Basualdo

Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T. Martin.