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Christian Bagnat


26 FEB – 4 MAR 2016 // Click here to see pictures.

A multitude of cups float in the sky and resemble a constellation. Below there is a reservoir about to overflow. On the other side, the internal organs of a human torso appear. A dozen of opened eyes took the place of the skull. Further apart, a head rests on the side of a Greek looking temple, both have similar dimensions. In this big drawing on two black sheets of metal, the eerie and existentialist atmospheres tense a shared space. The cups and the head remind us of the philosophical preoccupations of the so called school of the cynics who, to get rid of social conventions strived to live with the bare minimum in order to reshape the mind, the body and its surroundings.

The drawings of Chrisitian Bagnat (Argentina, 1971) present a topography of displacement. In his works, traced with the force and subtlety of a sketch, perfection and completion have no importance. Everything transforms itself. Each scene is a transition from one space to the other.

Since the time of the industrial revolution that sparked a continuous rural exodus towards megacities, a multitude of suburban zones emerged simultaneously. As a resident of Cuenca in Spain, a locality where the urbanization is too small to be a city and too big to be a village, Christian Bagnat is aware of the particularities that distinguish one to the other as well as the technologies that unites them. The paradoxical reduction and increase of distances provoked by telecommunications juxtaposes different mental states. In such acute spatial distortions, the work of Christian Bagnat portrays a subverted topography of a world in permanent collision.

To this rural exodus, the planetary immigration adds up. Groups of people abandon their countries to begin a journey of no return. Adjusting themselves to a new situation with almost nothing, an intermediate state becomes permanent. In these works, one can see a body that shapes itself against the edge of a bed or a naked woman on a sofa confronting a big rock. Loneliness and alienation inhabit these spaces. It draws a parallel with Diogenes of Sinope who lived in a barrel and got rid of most of material goods. The living space is an extension of the body and the mind. The depicted figures are surrounded by emptiness. It generates a sensation of weightlessness, a “suspended time”[1] (Stehende Zeit), a formula that Heidegger deepened as a state to “feel the present.”[2]

Sometimes, on the horizon of his drawings, containers and industrial chimneys appear. They are cement factories. Christian Bagnat values these places to talk about fluidity and solidity. Whether they are body parts, church organs, bridges, dams, columns, chairs or doors, each element canalizes energy. On a daily basis we relate to them as if they existed separately. His works behave as a meta-skeleton and show that the interdependence of the interior with the exterior, the individual and the collective or the objects and the subject are dragged into a centrifugal force.

Christian Bagnat uses color in several ways. The monochrome background reflects a specific physical state such as the skin tones that turn green as if sickened or blue for being cold. At other times, he asks some immigrants of Cuenca to prepare a color that reminds them their place of origin. For this exhibition, a part of the room is painted with the color that two sisters of 9 and 13 years old remembered of their grandparents´ house in Paraguay. This practice generates a heterotpoic situation “capable of juxtaposing in a single real space, several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible.”[3]

“Troika, Hospital, Mamá” functions as a Russian doll. In these three words, the body gains different proportions. The Troika is a super institutional structure in the hands of few individuals. It controls social and natural terrains on a planetary level. The Hospital is an intermediate scale. The building promises to take care of the body. It is a critical space where the interior is repaired in order to function within society. The word Mamá is the first place of being, the origin, a safety zone. Within this dimension, the chemical and biological rhythm harmonizes with its surroundings. This intimate sphere projects itself outward. “Troika, Hospital, Mamá” updates the Judeo-Christian trinity. The exhibition includes a small chapel of clay. In between its three walls, we find an empty space, an opportunity to observe the present, a refuge from the forces that modulate us.

Antoine Henry Jonquères, Madrid
[1]Boris Groys, “Volverse Público”, Buenos Aires, Caja Negra, 2014, p.89
[2]Idem, p. 87.
[3]Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces”, Diacritics 16, no.1, 1986, p.24.
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