A STRANGELY FAMILIAR LANDSCAPE THOUGHTS ON THE EXHIBITION “LANDSCAPE” BY ALEJANDRO QUIROGA. MAVI. SEP-NOV 2017
(1) Magritte, René. L’empire des lumiéres (146 x 114), 1954. Brussels, Belgium © Ch. Herscovici, avec son aimable autorisation c/o SABAM Belgium/ (2) Hopper, Edward. Roofs, Washington Square, 1926. Watercolor and coal on paper © Carnegie Museum of Art / (3) Arrest 1. (Festnahme 1), 1988. Oil on canvas (92 x 126.5 cm) © Gerhard Richter
Today in LOFscapes the architect and engraver Guillermo Zilleruelo brings us closer to the work of artist Alejandro Quiroga (AQ), who is exhibiting “Landscapes” at the Museum of Visual Arts (MAVI). His themes seem to touch upon absence, daily life, and in the least of cases, a certain intimacy. All of these are universal concepts easily grasped from an affective point of view. AQ’s paintings incisively produce in the viewer a sensation of disturbing familiarity with the landscapes portrayed.
First, we note the curatorial boldness in the title simply “Landscape” for a show that innocently deals with paintings that represent a piece of territory (1). In this way, the title brings us back to the first notion on which the concept is based (2). At the same time, the exhibition turns its back on an emerging string of neologisms, conceptual winks and a series of other naiveties, possibly inherited from Land Art that usually accompany shows related to the genre. The title warns us from the outset: we will witness the old relationship between an artist who through his pictorial craft will put before us a representation of a piece of land.
(1) The exhibition also includes a careful graphic selection of drawings and monochrome prints.
(2) Maderuelo, Javier (2013). El paisaje: génesis de un concepto. (The Landscape: Genesis of a concept) Madrid, Abada.
Alejandro Quiroga’s achievement here lies precisely in his ability to measure himself against a genre that seems exhausted, as much for being timeless as for receiving attention almost like fashion. The tradition of the local genre is sufficiently vast (3) and its growing incorporation into our pretended country-image is known; it is more complex still: the western relationship between painting and landscape. What reasons could AQ have for taking the risk of interfering with a genre that seems overexploited?
(3) Felsenhardt, Cristina. El Paisaje en la Literatura y Pintura Chilena: Representación, Ideología y Nación. (The Landscape in Chilean Painting and Literature: Representation, Ideology, and Nation)
The answer is apparently simple. A Quiroga is interested in pointing out the value of something that seems at risk and should be attended to (4). Given such an intention, what can be expected is a frontal, mediatic, exportable, urgent discourse. Nevertheless, the great virtue of the artist consists precisely in the omission of all of the above.
For Alejandro Quiroga it is just about matter and emotion. It is not a coincidence that the paintings are partially explained as an exercise. The references to L’empire des lumiéres (see Fig. 1) (also conceived as an exercise of insistence) and to the manipulated light of Edward Hopper (see Fig. 2) leap into view. In the first case, the juxtaposition of two irreconcilable opposites are observed; in the second, the deliberate alterations of light give the scenes an unstable and metaphysical atmosphere. These resources, transferred to AQ’s medium- format canvases are hit home for the viewer by producing a disturbing familiarity with the landscapes portrayed. I would add a third non-confessed reference, the glazes of Quiroga recall the instability of the image present in Gerhard Richter’s painting (see Fig. 3). As Elisa Cárdenas suggests, the boundary between the pictographic and the photographic is diluted (5), intensifying the effects described above.
(4-5) Quiroga, Alejandro (2010). Fine Tuning. Santiago, Chile.
Judging from the framings, the nature of the nature of the landscapes does not matter too much. Although Chile is recognized according to some endemic species ( Araucaria Araucana, Jubaea Chilensis), I would say that the location is not all that important. The important themes of Quiroga seem to be absence, daily life and in a few cases a certain intimacy. All of these are universal concepts, which are easily grasped from an affective point of view. In this way, AQ distances himself from the naturalistic/exotic approach (XIX century) and from the subsequent exaltation of the sublime (early XX century) in Chile. Despite this, his landscapes are highly romantic, but operate on another frequency and tune in with the viewer. Perhaps the unspoken task of Quiroga is to value the subjective importance of the landscape itself, in the tradition of psychoanalytic transference, closer to a playlist than to slanted environmental slogans.
With few elements of painting (understanding the trade as such) − the dislocation of light, the assembly of some elements − AQ manages to focus our attention on our everyday landscapes and to nationalize those that to him seem susceptible to point out. The combination of his tenacity and courage are reminiscent of Giorgio Morandi and his jugs, then AQ shows us that it still makes sense to paint landscapes if one has the ability and a point of view from which to do so. Keeping with the genre constitutes, as John Berger maintains, a pocket of resistance.
Guillermo Zilleruelo E. Graduate of School of Architecture Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, 2016. Art Studies PUC. Printmaker.
Alejandro Quiroga Vial painter and printmaker was born in Santiago, September 6, 1967. He studied Visual Arts with a minor in painting from the Contemporary Art Institute of Santiago, Chile between 1986 and 1990 and was a student of Rafael Munita, Enrique Zamudio and Eugenio Téllez. In 1998, he moved to New York in search of new horizons to show and spread his work. He was Eugene Brodsky’s assistant at the Art Student League. Alejandro Quiroga belongs to the group of artists of the Taller La Culebra on Loreto Street in Santiago, together with the artists Cristián Marambio, Malú Stewart and Gastón Laval. He has done musical work, illustrations for publications, set design for theatre and ballet, and curated exhibitions. http://www.artistasvisualeschilenos.cl/658/w3-article-40078.html
(4) Cerro El Plomo. Oil on canvas (180 x 270 cm) © Alejandro Quiroga for LOFscapes
(5) Esperando al monstro del pantano. (Waiting for the Monster of the Lagoon) Oil on canvas (120 x 90 cm) © Alejandro Quiroga for LOFscapes
(6) Jacarandá. Oil on canvas (120 x 90 cm) © Alejandro Quiroga for LOFscapes
(6) Zapallar 7. Oil on canvas (180 X 260 cm) © Alejandro Quiroga for LOFscapes
Images of AQ were extracted from the artist’s blog with previous authorization: elcanoa.blogspot.com