Small Formats: Alexandre Wagner


Critical Text

where the sea meets the landscape

By Ana Roman

The sea is the “quintessential smooth space” - according to Gilles Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus. More than events, this space would be occupied by things that are formed and already perceived. In the “smooth” space threads and intersecting are indistinguishable; there is only a tangle of fibres. But the landscape, for the the same theorists, would be the opposite: a striated space, which resembles a fabric with its weave of intertwined vertical and horizontal strings. According to them “what covers the striated space  […] is the sky as a measurement, and the visual qualities that emerge from it”. When we look at the sea, in other words, at the smooth space, there is a type of refusal of that already formed landscape, of the striated space, suggesting an attempt to build another landscape and another experience with the space. 

The works of Alexandre Wagner gathered in the exhibit “Small Formats” place themselves on the limit between sea and landscape: in many of them, the overlaid layers of paint create a continuum, which confuses us as spectators. The line of the horizon almost dissolves in our sight, similar to when we are in front of the sea. However, in other moments, a low horizon extends itself, occupying and dividing the canvas. In the pieces of work there is a latent will of landscape interrupted by the desire of the sea and the smooth surface, as so that the scale of the works seems to contradict and assert these desires. The synthesis and abstraction converge with contained strokes, which reveal this delicate relation: the dark color pallette transforms itself, among seas and landscapes, into a type of ode to silence and its potential of creation.

Seas and landscapes inhabit the common universe: they do not belong to anyone, and at the same time, they are present in everyone’s imagination. However, their ballast is not real, but lies in the diverse pictorial representations accumulated in our history and culture. The anonymity of these fragments of space, which have the collective memory as its arbitrator, inquire us about a possible exchange and experience of what is commonly sensitive, besides concurrently questioning us about the uncertain future and about the possibility of an oniric perception. 

In most of the present works in the exhibit, elements place themselves between the continuity of seas and landscapes. Some of them, even in the smooth spaces, work as flags or demarcations, which interrupt the optic path or present themselves as evading spotlights, with expanding irradiation by the surrounding paint. With big disruptive potential, these elements operate as gaps in the spaces of representation and, while presenting them, Alexander Wagner witnesses the impossibility of the unique space as a thing and enunciates its limit. 

For that matter, the work of Wagner points to another possibility of how to think of space and its representation in contemporaneity: between sea and landscape, an element of fracture is set. Between the ripples of space built and accumulated by history and the smooth space of the diverse seas that fill our sight, we are taken by the extraordinary of these elements of fracture. In its indefinitions it points to a potentiality in the common space and reminds us of the encounter and limits between sea and landscape.  

Installation Views