«La caja vacía» / [The Empty Box]


2nd Floor Gallery
July 6 – September 1, 2017

The concept of order seems to be related to structuring images that normally possess geometric harmony. Many of these images are rooted in the everyday life of contemporary people and set a series of parameters that we are sometimes little aware of due to our dependence on the structures of order for orientation and meaning. From childhood, grid sheets begin to support the linear nature of writing as a subtle instruction that makes us participate in a social mechanism based on this rigid and repetitive geometric composition: the grid, an image of order par excellence for man. Schedules, calendars, plans and maps are some of the schematic conventions on which the human experience unfolds that are based on grid structures.

The complexity of time and space in their eternity and infinity can be understood with these elementary diagrams that make it easier to live in an artificial construction, the product of absolute reason. The city then becomes the reflection, and the projection of these structures, of the fundamental limits that become visible, the place where geometry condenses into space and reason becomes real to allow us to tame that which is temporary. In this compendium of visual and intellectual forms that has been established throughout history, man lives in a metropolis that has been dehumanized, ordered and built for the eye. Here, the body is subdued and the capacity of the remaining senses is weakened, isolated and contained by a rigid retinal architecture that separates and isolates individuals in a specific place, reducing their existence to the smallest fraction of space, an individual cell, the space intended for their own existence: the room.

In the increasingly reduced space of densely populated cities, a person may hopefully possess a fragment of space for his or herself. In the large urban grid filled with regular three-dimensional volumes, the smallest dwelling unit corresponds to a rectangular parallelepiped: a box. This ridiculous individual urban space does not only contain freedom and subjectivity, but perhaps the very basis of one’s own understanding, of the construction of meaning: the last stronghold of interiority. «Even more so, an architectural space frames, stops, strengthens and concentrates our thoughts and prevents them from being lost. We can dream and feel on the outside but we need the architectural geometry of a room to think clearly. The geometry of thought echoes against the shape of the room ”.

To inhabit geometric space would then mean to possess thought with the same qualities. The rectilinear interior of a room would conquer existence and give it a position in a world determined by an infinite and homogeneous space, close to the Euclidean definition of space as a large container, a cubic receptacle. It would also mean inhabiting a space closer to the mathematical, that which is perfectly controllable. Fortunately, this definition of space is obsolete for science itself because both space and the world are much more complex, and reason fails to decipher all the phenomena of a dynamic and apparently chaotic universe. Nevertheless, this philosophical metaphor about knowledge, where man internalizes and isolates himself to contemplate the world from the inside of a dark room, is also useful for the purposes of La Caja Vacía.

The starting point of a reflection around the centrist culture of the West and how the artist is involved in both science and thought in different historical periods to influence their course. The claustrophobic and contemporary feeling of inhabiting a dead box leads to a close observation of the images that project and shape the same box, and thus understand the complex structure surrounding such box to then blur it.

Through the tools and tricks of a draftsman with an academic background, apparently obsolete elements appear, which have defined the image of this complex structure that has been named «reality». Some common places between science, architecture and the painting of Western culture are evident with references immersed in the content of the works present in this exhibition. Dark boxes or magic lanterns, perspective boxes, grids and windows, perspectives and trompe-l’oeils; as a whole, drawing machines, tools to represent objective and illusory space, the world governed by appearances and limits in a simulated or artificial space.

Manuel Calderón.