AN ARTIST OF DE (UN)CERTAINTY. Francisco Carpio
One unavoidable consequence of the dual nature of matter is the uncertainty or indecision principle stated in 1927 by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, who a few years later was to be rewarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the development of the quantum theory. Summing up, this principle states that in quantum mechanics it’s impossible to determine, in one point of time, the exact value of two combined canonical variables (position-impulse; energy-time…, etc.), therefore a precise measurement of one property means a total indecision in the measure of the other. The uncertainty principle deeply influenced the 20th century’s Physics and Philosophy. And other human areas are still influenced by it, as for example art. I will try to explain myself.
Amadeo Olmos has aligned these new works he’s presenting us under the title Uncertainty Principle. In my opinion, there are two reasons behind this strategy. On one hand, he stresses this through the dual and dialectical nature that, as an intangible but visible backbone, covers practically his whole body of work, and in which the mechanics and concepts of opposition, combination, contrast and interaction are milestones on the same path. On the other hand, it’s a way for him to relate Science and Art, two territories of knowledge, experience and interest that are also an important part of his creative tradition. In short, and according to his own words: “I try to show the uncertainty in which the world and perhaps art is spinning”.
Along with this, another reference line and influence comes clearly into view on the surface – and on the background – of his works: the perception of Nature and, consequently, the look he casts on it. Let’s not forget that it is the artist who has the capacity to perceive the interior of nature, the one who, as Plato stated, is capable of “making the invisible visible”, to express it in his work. It is precisely about seeing through the appearances.
In this way, and directly related to the constant and continuous dialogue that our artist is having with nature through his works, and which is a way for him to establish a whole theory and praxis on this –almost- eternal bond between two apparently opposed powers as the Natural vs. the Artificial, or to put it in another way, Man vs. Culture; another of his (ethical and aesthetical) major references appears: the work and thought of Gaspar David Friedrich.
The romantic German painter himself would say “a painter should not paint only what he sees before him, but also what he sees within himself”. In the same way, Amadeo Olmos doesn’t only show us a representation of nature, but fundamentally an interpretation of it, and I would go even further and say, a pure and simple intervention. In the greater part of his pieces, whether they are paintings, drawings, photos, objects or interventions in space, we’re witnessing the presence of a series of traces, signs, gestures and appearances, a grammar made out of colour and shape, that are placed on the initiation skin of the natural to end up turning those natural representations into authentic cartographs of thought and emotion.
This symbolic character that makes him create concept images, involving a rather interior than external view towards nature, is leading me back again to Friedrich. Tonia Raquejo says: “Contrary to the vast majority of romantic landscape painters, Friedrich doesn’t show the sublimity in the landscapes he paints, but in the subjective effects that these has on the viewer. To that effect he demands of the real observer (us) to identify himself with the represented and to feel with him. In this way, the subjective feelings of the painter are perceived inwardly by the real observer through the fictional observer…”
Just a moment ago (for me just as for you, dear reader-spectator, it might have been a second or an elastic jump in the space of time; we’ll never know…), I referred to the traces, the presences that cartograph the first skin of the work and mark a track of interventions and visual actions on it. Signs and traces that are directly related to Amadeo’s interest – I’d even say need – in establishing different levels of contrast (keyword in his work) between the different layers of visual (and conceptual) information that he is presenting. In this way, he builds a whole Ars Combinatoria of elements that are apparently disconnected from the main image (that’s how we’ll call it) but that end up shedding a complementary identity, a fertile and suggestive dialogue between opposites.
Let’s take, for example, the paintings (we shouldn’t forget that Amadeo Olmos is above all a painter and that in almost all of his works, including the ones that might seem less close to this media, there is a complicit wink to the eternal relevance and survival of painting). In them you can see this initial stratum, that painted original that I spoke of and that – as tends to be characteristic of his artistic vision – refers to a specific view on nature: the lofty picture of some mountains, the humid flow of a beach that has been massaged by the tips of the waves, the round geography of the tops of a group of trees… On top of this first iconographic layer – and in order to somehow put this duality of which Heisenberg spoke of on visual record – he places certain visual elements, normally linked to the strict and structural descent of Madame Geometry (prismatic shapes, polyhedrons, itineraries and paths, ovals, faceted planes…); elements by which he somehow “cools off” the romantic representation of nature, throwing the complicit wink of contrast and dialectics of opposites and creating in our eyes and in our brains a worrying feeling of stability – instability.
As far as colour, as another accent to bring power into the writing of shapes, it acquires in this moment a highlighted prominence, establishing – once more – a chromatic counterpoint to the monochromatic main images.
Let’s go back again, in order to make this point perfectly clear, to Amadeo’s own words: “starting from a real image from the natural or human environment, a new image that doesn’t follow a natural logic is created and it generates a kind of world, where the way in which man and his, mental or physical, constructions alter or transform the environment is satirized or questioned from different points of view …”
In another group of paintings that he is also showing us now, paintings that are not paintings – I’ll explain what I mean- , a couple of monochromatic round surfaces similar to, as a kind of trompe l’oeil, the spherical convexity of mirrors, those interferences-interventions gain a different connotation, less hidden, more explicit. On the ambiguous specular reflection of nature we can literally see shoe prints. A landscape that has been stepped on, beaten to death by the so frequent and vulgar action of man. Steps, weights, dregs of (ignorant) culture.
Analogously, a visual strategy very similar to the first series of paintings he presents can be found in his drawings. In this case, on the greyscaled skin that brings structure to the first layer (that of course gives shape to a new representation of landscape) he places another intervention layer, similar in concept to the ones he uses in his paintings but different in form. However, the chromatic accents, the voluminous citizens of the 3-D Kingdom, the polyhedral rigors of spatial geometry give way and weight to the new mechanics of two -dimensional cartography: lines, marks, sparkles (as if light would set its shapes on fire), rectangles, squares, circles, grids…With these he elaborates a net of graphic nets that makes us think of diagrams, labyrinths, lattice, that also seem to be the leads in the deciphering of a unique and mysterious map.
Among his visual proposals, his objects (“micro installations”, that was the – in my opinion, correct – term the artist himself used when qualifying them in a recent conversation in his studio) are, the way I see it, one of his best and most significant discoveries. They are without doubt the spatial staging of most of his strategies already reflected in paintings, drawings and photographs. They are also the expression of that interest that I would almost call “devotion” (and in order to continue with the rime, investigation or emotion), with, to, in, towards and for Nature. Here, once more, in these true subscenarios, he places that character we talked about when we talked about Friedrich, the one who acts as a bridge and link between the real and the fictitious observer, between nature and artifice, between man and culture. A spectator that is contemplating certain natural visions and who is also a part of them (and who equally emerge in other works in which he use different ways of creating images: I’m thinking of a series of photographs in which the only spectator – a woman- observes the deceitful artificial landscape of a big screen: Big Brother-sister-father-mother in 2011).
To sum up, cubic, spherical, prismatic shaped visions of a free nature that at the same time is trapped and subdued. A sphere-world, a hexahedron-world, a polyhedron-world that our artist (who is in turn the entranced spectator before a certain vision of the sublime, and also who we are ourselves as observers) seems to love, to respect and at the same time, to question, to investigate, to demand.
They are – except for one and only exception that the spectator will find in the middle of the “cracked” floor of the gallery, surrounded by a security cordon – as some kind of scenarios in miniature, small, if you like, in size, but rich in interpretation and message. The character – because he always appear as one, solitary and lost in thought before the sublimity of nature – contemplates this cubic or spherical world that is constructed with great economy of means: wood, graphite, wire and little more, and his usual monochromatic shades (especially blue, black, white and grey), that seems to be trapped – literally and conceptually – in an uncertain and not too encouraging destiny but that, we can’t exactly tell why, always leaves us a glimpse of possibility, of certainty. Once again, (un)certainty principle.
These are the works that, without doubt, accumulate the highest staged and theatrelized temperature, and possibly in which one can perceive more clearly that character of a freezed and still moment – in time and in space – as if they almost where film stills, that most of his works reflect. Let’s not forget that precisely film (our artist is an incurable film lover) is another of his references and trademark as an artist. An artist of the (un)certainty.