FRONTIER - juan contreras

The pieces were first inspired by a visit to Berlin in 2011; while viewing the remains of the wall that separated the city not so long ago, and reflecting on the many other walls that have been built since then in other parts of the world. Alongside the political and social exploration of this structure, I was also engaged in the purely aesthetic value I saw in the broken down wall, the ‘open-negative space’; a physical absence that creates a presence when one is able to look across into the horizon through the cracks and holes in the wall. It is the exploration of a world that is layered and fragmented physically, historically and aesthetically.

... what is engaging about your pieces? For this new body of work, I decided to explore a technique, which differs from the work I have created in the past. I used oil paint and generously applied it over the canvases in thick layers while introducing pieces of rope to create wire structures. Two of the works are composed of two canvases, placed one on top of the other. The top canvas has been perforated and manipulated to create a fragment of the wall structure; the second one — at the bottom— becomes an ‘open-negative space’: the other side of the wall.

Their intricate construction makes it possible for viewers to complete the scene, expand what they see and be transported to a new location in which they are witnesses of what is happening across from them through the wall; however, still be restricted by that physical presence. The third painting was created using a single canvas. The paint application and use of the rope to create the structure is still the same, but in this case, both planes, the wall and the horizon blend into one. This piece was created as a further exploration of the materials, but it can also be understood in its symbolic terms: the extreme situation created when a wall is recently built, the imminent restriction faced by those left on the 'outside'. As much as one knows that what is on the other side is real and palpable, the impossibility of reaching it turns it into a flat image, an illusion, a representation of what is there. The wall then becomes a frame, the horizon a flat image; a framed illusion.

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