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Structures with a twist

Like the new Roche tower or the vote about the Wettstein bridge in 1990, structures have always caused discussions in Basel. Now the Katapult Gallery holds an exhibition about structures – that seem anything but permanent.

By Avner Pinchover

The name of the exhibition, “Estructuras” (structures) might be puzzling. The works by five Colombian artists do not seem, at first sight, to adhere to the defined subject.  Alejandro Tobón, Camilo Álvarez, Hernán Marín, José F. Muñoz and Meloquez, who earlier this year raised money for the journey to Switzerland by auctioning their works, seem to deal more with motifs such as disappearance, absence and voids.

At the entrance, Alejandro Tobón​’s sculptures are made of parts of disassembled furniture. Although their former users are not directly represented, they seem to be “present­-absentees” in the gallery space. (The term “present­-absentee” was coined by the Israeli government to designate Palestinians who were displaced during the 1948 Arab-­Israeli War but did remain within the borders of the newly founded Israeli state. A book of the same name was published by internationally renowned author and peace activist David Grossman.)

Hernán Marín​’s graphite drawings portray human figures in various stages of disappearance into fog or thin air. Their counterparts—namely their surroundings and the objects in their views—are in a more extreme state: they do not exist at all in the realm of the image, but only in the imagination.

It is the technique of the works as much as their content that evokes impermanence: all are on non-absorbent surfaces such as steel, glass or lacquered­ canvas. Being only a few microns thick and—in contrary to drawings on paper—seemingly peelable off their ground, they are intrinsically ephemeral.

Some of José F. Muñoz​’s paintings address the above­mentioned themes even in their titles. In his painting “Vaporized” (2007) he gently applies layers of acrylic paint, wax, paste and graphite. His images begin to fade­ away at the very moment they are created.

Munoz’s figures hardly show any facial features and are situated into painterly voids, spatial nothingness. On another wall he displays paintings of urban fabrics from an aerial perspective. Their margins fade into endless space, their hearts void of any human activity.

Structures appear throughout the exhibition, but they disintegrate, collapse, are surrounded by voids and even contain them. The void is presented to us by means of the structure and vice versa.

About the author: Avner Pinchover is a Swiss­-Israeli architect and artist. He currently serves as editor of the Israeli art & design magazine “Untitled”.
Picture Hernán Marín, from the “Crowd” series, 120x150cm, courtesy Katapult Gallery. © All rights reserved to artist.

8 October – 21 November 2014
Galerie Katapult
St. Johanns­-Vorstadt 35
4056 Basel
061 321 88 55

Tue – Fr 2pm – 6.30pm
Sat 11am – 4pm

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