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Resplandor sólido

Hugo Robledo
02.02.23 – 04.01.23


Color fades before our eyes. The sunset dims, the flower pales and the skin ages. Color is a transitory phenomenon, perpetually in a state of flux. Color is a system of faith. In physics, it has been explained that the color we see is not inherent to objects, but rather an interpretation that the human brain generates based on the light spectrum reflected by surfaces. If color is mental data, what does its materiality constitute? This exhibition is a subjective inquiry into this question.

Materiality is a key aspect of the works that comprise this exhibition. At a time in which the dematerialization of the image seems an accomplished fact, the economy, industry and environmental concerns remind us that reality is still tangible and very concrete. In the digital age, extractive industries are more profitable than ever: lithium, copper, graphite, among many other minerals, are stripped from the earth to fulfill the relentless demand of new technologies.

During the late 1960s, writer Lucy R. Lippard observed the increasing dematerialization of artistic processes, in which the artist would be in charge of designing the works to be later executed by craftspeople, thus making the creative act more mental than manual. Five decades after that transition, I personally assume that the artistic process is not only mental, but also manual. I think that curiosity about ideas is as important as the findings that the tactile experience of materials generates. As such, my process involves both the pursuit of learning the craft and the construction of thought.

The choice to use certain techniques and materials associated with art from older eras responds to the search for the manual procedure of color. The medieval craft of tempera grassa, a direct antecedent of oil painting, requires a strictly organized and constant work system. As a pre-industrial pictorial method, tempera lacks the immediate quality of previously prepared color. This inconvenient feature results in a repetitive and meditative state of mind. On the other hand, ceramics have been continuously with mankind from ancient times to the present day, in almost all cultures, and remain as a day-to-day material. I find its fragility as an object and its persistence as a material fascinating. Archaeological evidence confirms that ceramics survive the ruin of civilizations.

The works in this exhibition encompass a semantic field of the built environment. At the boundary of representation and abstraction, ambiguous mental spaces reveal water mirrors, reservoirs, fountains and ducts. Bodies of water as reflections-illusions have cultural connotations of the spiritual world as well as of hygiene and physical health. The frame-glows that appear in the paintings refer to the experience of color through screens. The ratios of the works are 16:9, 4:3 and 1:1, which are all formats used on electronic displays and in photography.

Painting is a vital impulse that has always been with our species: to anchor the chromatic phenomenon that always fades away. The oldest known paintings are found in the darkness, protected from light in caves. The deep earth is total darkness, and therefore, devoid of color. Even though light makes the phenomenon of color possible, light has the power to destroy color. Color only appears for a finite time. The idea of permanence has followed art since Prehistory. Art is a field for thinking that eventually nothing is eternal, and that life and color are precious because they perish.

Hugo Robledo
Mexico City, February 2023.