By Adriana Alvarez-Nichol
Vice President, Hong Kong Art Gallery Association
Founder and Director, Puerta Roja Limited
Over the last seven years Puerta Roja has constantly explored through the work of its stable of Latin American and Spanish artists the use of untraditional art mediums, seldom presenting in its exhibitions traditional canvas painting. With the exhibition Weightless Matter, Puerta Roja further pushes medium boundaries by presenting the work of Gladys Nistor, a dynamic contemporary artist who follows the path of non-objective art to its limits.
Gladys’ work and its ambiguity of medium and genre, immediately remind us of the seminal 1959 essay “Theory of the Non-Object” by Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar. In his manifesto, Gullar stated that the path of modernism towards a purer form of art had finally arrived. Starting with the impressionists and culminating with Malevich and Mondrian, the non-object challenged traditional categories and norms of painting and sculpture. Freed from the delimiting structures of frame and pedestal and the limitations of language, the non-object would thus be liberated from “any signification outside the event of its own apparition.” These ideas and those of other artists of the South American Neo-Concrete movement, would be further reviewed in Mónica Amor’s “Theories of the Non object” as the starting point for a broader investigation of the abstract and constructivist art produced in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela in the second half of the twentieth century. Amor’s focus is on the “crisis of mediums and representation” that triggered both formal innovations and new conceptual understandings of the art object and its relation to the viewer.
In its essence, non-objective art aims to convey a sense of simplicity and purity, seamlessly reaching towards a moral or spiritual dimension. A form of abstraction that, in most instances, follows Plato’s view that geometry is the highest form of beauty and that, by elevating non-traditional materials to an aesthetic level, would eventually bring the rise of minimalist artists such as Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd. And it is precisely that sense of purity and spiritual dimension, the poetry of minimal beauty, that arises when contemplating Gladys Nistor’s creations. When I encountered the artist’s work in Paris, I was at first mystified, but quickly curiosity evolved into a deep sense of reflection on the essence of perception, the blurring lines between matter and light, and our own origin. I was engulfed by the simplicity of the artist’s view of the world. Gladys Nistor’s bodiless work is playful and paradoxical, floating in space, boldly illuminating an imaginary dimension. As Gullar’s non-objects, Nistor’s works “do not intend to describe a negative object nor any other thing that may be opposite to material objects. [It] is a special object through which a synthesis of sensorial and mental experiences is intended to take place. It is a transparent body in terms of phenomenological knowledge: while being entirely perceptible it leaves no trace.”
Nistor precisely balances light and dark in order to release objects from gravitational laws. By constructing intense contrast, the artist distils aesthetics down to their very core. With striking simplicity and intriguing illusion, she leaves the viewer bewildered. Eyes and mind are conflicted to question the mechanisms of both the work and our own perception of it.
Weightless Matter presents the artist’s site-specific new series Objets de Lumière. Every piece is uniquely and intimately tailored to the gallery space. The works leave convention behind by breaking away from frame, canvas and three-dimensionality to fully occupy the environment and to immerse us in their beauty.
Adriana Alvarez-Nichol, Puerta Roja, Weightless Matter, 2017
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