From what does not exist

Holograms on photographs, 2007-2008
11 pieces / 60 x 100 cm / An edition of 3 units + 1 test-piece

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[image title=»What eyes can see, what they cannot see…» ][/image]
[image title=»I only hope to see…»][/image]
[image title=»but what do I see…?!»][/image]
[image title=»From what does not exist»][/image]
[image title=»that which appears to be»][/image]
[image title=»a metaphor for time»][/image]
[image title=»uncertain appearance»][/image]
[image title=»pastime culture»][/image]
[image title=»senseless form»][/image]
[image title=»formless sense»][/image]
[image title=»hardly that, that…»][/image]

Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.”
—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (121-180 A.D.)

The series From What Does Not Exist seems to inhabit the grisaille in El Bosco’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, a closed triptych which, according to some interpretations, represents the world at the time when the waters beneath the skies began to join and when dryness appeared — a world in which everything is still to be created, where things are in constant motion and nothing is true; a world just beginning to be born, between sea and earth. A world of appearances, uncertainties, simulations, but a world that is beginning to be ordered, to emerge from the whirl.

In this work we find the artist’s old effort to materialise the Idea by reflecting on how his imagination brings a new space into life: a found space, but one altered so that the images depicted on his soul can be translated into the codes our sight makes available to us. Thus, this credible but unreal space, this theoretical space displayed through photography, might act as the ideal space for the Idea to materialise, and this would materialise in holography, used by Buitrago as an instrument to capture the aesthetical space: it is the materialisation of the imagined picture. The photographic grisaille would give way to the world of the Garden and the sources of life, that moves between the dream-like and the real, which would be the holographic work.

From a found space a sought-for universe is built, a new space, a receptacle for the artist’s visions, while inviting viewers to place themselves at a single point of the physical space, as in a Renaissance perspective, if they want to go into mental space – into the work taken as a whole.

The first three images in the series act as an introductory triptych. Its titles —What Eyes Can See, What They Cannot See; I Only Hope to See; But What Do I See?!— and the use of some symbolic elements, such as stairs, encourage us to trace back the development of the series. The ladder resting on the wall in Velázquez’s The Fable of Aracne symbolises an ascent from the material to the ideal world. It might act not so much as a union of heaven and earth, but as an element of spatial delusion —for both photographic and holographic spaces are immaterial. Here there is no baroque metaphor in which space is understood as a theatrical stage design, but there is an almost pre-Socratic reflection, when Empedocles compared the genesis of the cosmos to the creation of a painting.

The series rhythmically flows between noises and silences, which are used to reinforce the preceding and subsequent images, as a musical resource.

Images venture into a metaphor for time evoking the time rendered fossilized by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto in his series Theatres and Colours of Shadow. Holography occupies the place of a white-saturated screen and shadow subtleties.

The creative flow introduces us into the harmony of the universe created by Buitrago, who acts as the architect of a space that expands to stress perspective — an uncertain, ideal space where there is no garden, no landscape, no nature. A universe in which he only shows us the traces of man in a world with no vegetation, a man lost in what appears to be, that emerges from what does not exist, or that exists only in the artist’s mind, and which he materialises through the techniques of holography and photography. They are two different spaces, as the dry lands and the waters are, but they are complementary: neither of them can be understood but as the other’s container.

Holograms inserted into the photographic space help to dilute the membrane of the platonic cavern in order to smash the certainties of our sight. They show us the materialisation of the Idea. It lodges in the artist’s spirit and leaves us hardly that — according to the image that works as an epilogue.

I have always seen Pepe Buitrago’s series as pages of an incunabulum: magic has an effect if we contemplate each image as separate from the others, but we go deeper into their meanings if we contemplate them as parts of a whole.
(Carmen Dalmau. December, 2008. Sala Efti. Madrid)