Nara Roesler and kamel mennour galleries presents Reflections on Space and Time, the 29th edition of Roesler Hotel. With works by renowned artists such as Daniel Buren, Anish Kapoor, Alicja Kwade and Julio Le Parc, the show features sculptures, installations and paintings that make us reflect on the concept of space and the fugacity of time, interrogate on our immediate surroundings, but also drift on self-reflection. The works that use the resource of reflections are the conducting wire of the exhibition, which also unfolds to other complex techniques.
Mirror (Pagan Gold / Magenta Apple Mix 2), by Anish Kapoor, from 2018, is composed of two concave stainless steel caps, which are technically two circular mirrors, each one measuring one meter in diameter, one of them in gold, and the other in a delicately violet-hued red. The piece is designed to be placed in a corner, each mirror on a wall at a short distance from the other and hanging at the same height. Simply walking by them causes a slight jolt: both mirrors seem to move, not only because they reflect the body of the moving spectator, but also by virtue of the speed of their displacement and shift in their point of view. The golden circle is increasingly turning to violet, or the opposite–depending on whether one is walking into or out of the room–one coloured circle invades the other the same way the moon shades the sun during an eclipse.
We can predict that even the most inattentive visitor will be surprised by the phenomenon triggered by his own body, even more so when he notices that their own reflection will appear inverted, as it does when we are in front of a concave mirror. The reflection of the room and, of course, of everything within sight. Linked together, this gives the experience an enchantment and typically makes for the slowing of the steps, going closer to the mirrors, spending time in the amusing confusion provided by the interplay of mirrors.
Mirrors have a strong presence in this exhibition, titled Reflections on space and time, not by chance. Fascinating and problematic, mirrors have been forever taken as a subject matter, with ancient myths such as Narcissus, which also features in this exhibition. But this is not surprising. As Jorge Luis Borges has described them in his poem Mirrors—'Where it ends and begins, inhabitable/an impossible space of reflections.' Indeed, the impossibility of the space produced by the mirror lies, to begin with, in the fact that, in spite of the sharp evidence of our reflection, we will never be on the side beyond the wall. Such situation leads us to think about what kind of space this is, after all. In order to precisely show this problem’s content, the exhibition brings together two masters historically responsible for introducing glass, with its transparency and reflection, with the virtual multiplication of reality in contemporary art: Dan Graham, from North America and the Daniel Buren, from France.
Não há lugar para o tempo [There is no place for time] is simultaneously the title and the artwork by Laura Vinci, a phrase made of hollow metal letters fixed to the wall and frozen. An exemplary work which addresses these two intriguing and intertwined dimensions, Vinci’s phrase is grounded on the realisation that there is not a proper place for time, or a source from which it springs. Paradoxically, it lies on things, it lies everywhere, always in dialogue with transformation and death, and adding, as Fernando Pessoa wrote, 'moisture to the walls and white hair to men.'
Going further, in Book XI of his Confessions, written between the years 397 and 400 AD, St. Augustine, when inquiring about time–Where is it? What is it?–offers us his paradoxical answer: 'If no one asks me, I know; but if I want to explain it to whoever asks me the question, I do not know anymore.' We need to convene that this answer acknowledges its impotence.
Nothing can be said about time. Nothing? For a long time it was believed that the possibility of measuring time meant knowing it, controlling it. But as W. G. Sebald’s, the fascinating character Austerlitz–that remind us Funes, Borges’ character, the great memorable man, a man taken by memories to the point of spending a day to remember another day and thereby making the past match the present. Very well. Then, as Austerlitz argues, according to the narrator’s testimony, 'Time [...] of all our inventions, was by far the most artificial one and, by being bound to planets that revolve around their own axis, no less arbitrary than would be say, a calculation based on the growth of the trees, or the necessary duration for a limestone to disintegrate…'
Laura discusses time by inscribing it in space, not because it is embedded in a phrase, but because she has also frozen its letters, and fixed them on the wall. As long as the compressor is on, the words will have thickness, they will become swollen and covered by a velvety white similar to that of plants sleeping over the snow or attacked by fungi. Unlike the time spent if words were simply to be said, with the succession of the sounds of each letter and syllable, dying one after the other, when transposed into a frozen, tangible text hanging on the wall, the sentence remains at one’s disposal to be read again and again and with indefinite duration.
What about Alicja Kwade’s unlikely wind instrument? Her discussion of time leads her to summon music, this temporal art. The mouthpiece facing up suggests that the breath that will animate it will come from above circulating the air through the straight tubes until the sounds come out through the conical mouths. The piece’s plastic refinement goes through the metamorphosis of its skin, from the green patina until the shiny copper horns, leading us to think about the paths of sound propagating through space.
Paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures and installations: Reflections on space and time aims at showing how artists have been contemplating this intricate relationship.
Julio Le Parc discusses both instances taking us into his work, which consists of several hanging plates. Small, shiny and reflective, they turn the black-painted room into an atmosphere of ceaselessly shifting light, into a luminous kaleidoscope in continuous motion. The work itself is not in the room, it is the room. It is its very substance. A rationale akin to Artur Lescher’s polished pendulums, which seem to tear the space they transverse with their linear and vertical bodies as they imperceptibly oscillate.
Eduardo Navarro spreads bronze nuts over a sand ground. The interior of a walnut, as it has been commonly noticed, looks something like a brain, and its cultivation suggests that they can sprout again. In turn, Abraham Palatnik, brings the greatest of his kinetic reliefs, a sculpture akin to the logic of suns, planets, and satellites, slowly spinning around their own axes and around each other, like sand flowing through the hourglass.
Also present are the artists who rely on conventional media, such as the quadrangular paintings by Liam Everett, Latifa Echakhch, Camille Henrot, Carlito Carvalhosa and Bruno Dunley. Each of their works are spaces to project our subjectivety, fields covered by shapes, streaks and daubs and on which we apply our persistent search for hidden meanings. That’s the way it is: paintings, like any work of art, establish specular relations with ourselves; we seek pleasure in them in search of our pleasure, whether it comes in the form of beauty, perplexity, horror, disgust or astonishment.
Still in the chapter of classic format works, we highlight François Morellet’s work, a painting on a stretched linen canvas, where clear and regular limits are threatened by the straight and luminous neon lines that cross the surface in disjointed directions. Through this work, the strategy behind Claude Lévêque’s paiting can be perfectly understood, confronting and even dissolving the painting in bluish neon borders, which seem to have been made by a deliberately hesitant hand, like a child’s hand. Lucia Koch and Gina Pane explode that format for good; contemplating their works implies a seesaw motion: the initial drawback is followed by drawing nearer for a detailed view. In the case of Lucia’s work, to notice the small rectangular metal structures that bear coloured filters stamped in them, seeing they are projected a few centimetres out of the wall casting coloured shadows on it. As for Gina, the eye goes up and down the cylindrical tubes, stopping at the signs and photographic images that are alternately organised. The same kind of contemplation takes place on two pieces by Marco Maggi: what appears to be two square black-and-white paintings at a distance, at a close look reveals itself as a field populated by infinitesimal topographies, totalling 400 pieces of cut out paper inside 35 mm plastic slide magazines.
Marie Bovo, Paulo Bruscky, Hicham Berrada and Mohamed Bourouissa bring cities and landscapes to the exhibition; urban time and space, full of contradictory situations, social contrasts, desires and fantasies, invade the clean and protected precincts of the gallery as if to remind us that art lives under risk and feeds on it as well.
The pieces by Tatiana Trouvé and Not Vital have been placed at two extremes, two poles along which the show is organised. Not’s glistening, solitary head is a sculpture that instead of interrupting space, seems to absorb it, an event homologous to our effort to prevent the world from flowing into us. As for Tatiana, the same transparent plate leaning against the wall that reflects ourselves, presses our shoes and puts ourselves on the tip of our toes, as if we were taken by surprise by the realisation that the true protagonists of this work is ourselves.
Text by Agnaldo Farias. Courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.