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This is not
Original title: Ceci n'est pas
1989
Epoxy resin and enamel on canvas
Dimensions: 140 x 280 cm
Reference: ACF0153
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Two pieces belonging to one of Javier Baldeón's series made up of works whose generic name is "Ceci n'est pas": in one of them the shadows of four office chairs appear on a spotless white surface, and in the other a pile of tables and chairs upside down, overturned. Objects represented on the surface of a picture? It would be difficult to be sure that such is the case, since to be exact there are no objects or representation, or even a picture. Baldeón belongs to a series of artists who have continued to work with painting and on the problem of representation, walking along sheer precipices where the work eludes traditional classifications. To begin with, we cannot exactly speak of pictures; rather of dioramas, or a canvas consisting of two layers, painted on both sides so that what we see on one side is a reflection of what is painted on the other. In this case, to round off the game, these are painted shadows which can be discerned through a canvas treated with enamels and which endow the work with a strange luminosity. Lastly there is something of a theatre curtain about the work, a screen on which real shadows seem to be projected. Shadows, when all is said and done, and not objects; the title itself says so, as a statement of intent: whatever there is is not there. And really neither the chairs nor the tables are there, only their shadows; the shadow is the other side of the form, the object in negative, in any case its trace and almost the non-being of something. Moreover, the reference to René Magritte cannot be missed in the title, but in this case it takes us even further: Baldeón is not content with making a problem of representation in painting, as Magritte did; it does not even arise: quite simply, it is not there. The process of obtaining the image is quite simple: it is just a matter of painting the shadows of objects projected by a spotlight. A process related to another artist who was determined to deny painting as a mere act of representation: Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp obtained some of his works and many of the objects represented in Le Grand Verre through the procedure of projection. In that way he tried to eliminate the artist's hand and subjective expression by means of a mechanical technique. Baldeón also eliminates that post-Romantic trace of expression in painting, but, going further in the wake of Duchamp, he tries to convert the surface of the picture and the painting into more than a mere representation of a thing. The shadows make the picture something real, they transform it into an object with a real presence highlighted by the diorama effect, by the intense luminosity that emerges from those shadows. Moreover, in this case once again we cannot speak of simple representation, because the picture is no longer a plane. It is not a window in the classic sense assigned to painting; it is a place that receives, though it is also translucent, without ever being transparent. Not exactly either one thing or the other, Baldeón's work walks a knife edge by showing an almost physical flimsiness, by seeming to be always about to disappear… That is what happens with shadows: they are fleeting and changing. The reality Baldeón's work offers is a fleeting one, and that space he seeks for the work as a real object is based on its flimsiness. In that interplay of breaks and continuous negotiations, the pictures in the "Ceci n'est pas" series affirm the impossibility of ordering the world and offering it in a coherent, definitive and immutable image. In the uselessness of the effort to provide discursive frameworks for Baldeón's work, which drives us towards a reflection on the very reality around us, which he offers, there is a constant coming and going, because in the end his work is set in the impossibility of making an image in art, questioning it and infinitely denying it, in the end so as to be able to make an image. In other words: the meanings of his work overlap intensely, offering an image which is not an image on a reality which is not a reality.

Other artworks in the Collection by the same artist Other artworks in the Collection by the same artist

  • The world / 1993

  • This is Not / 1989

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