The Passage of Amnesia / Ghost Variations, 1st Regression
12/09/2023 - 25/11/2023
Opening: Saturday, 9 September, 6–9 pm
7 p.m.: Vocal performance in cooperation with
composer Laurie Schwartz
Zilberman | Berlin is pleased to announce its exhibition The Passage of Amnesia showing the work of Omar Barquet.
With this, his first solo exhibition in Berlin, the Mexican artist Omar Barquet brings together new works with autofictional elements, which he stages in a tri-partite room installation through which viewers will circulate. Over the years, Barquet has assembled albums in a journal-like process. Drawing from various image traditions, he collects motifs, which he later uses in creating collages and assemblages. In Barquet’s work, landscapes become loaded metonyms for human existence. In earlier works, he often created installations impinging on the public space. More recently, he has focused on our private, mental space. The motif of the eye appears in various compositions, frequently closed or referring to the expression “in the eye of the storm.” The apparent calm is deceptive, for all around us the storm rages violently. Hurricanes, which throw everything into confusion, erode coastlines, and leave prodigious damages in their wake, likewise shape the work of Omar Barquet, who grew up in Chetumal on the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and today lives in Mexico City. Barquet identifies as 1st Regression the moment when the storm first reaches land. His understanding of history is non-linear: phases of building and destruction follow one another endlessly, in nature as in human life. In working with fragments, he gives expression to this cyclical understanding of time in another way.
Barquet’s artistic practice is based on a process of collecting and recycling. Flotsam, driftwood, sea shells, and fragments of furniture washed up on the beach—materials carrying the scars of time and use—are characteristic of his work. Through exploring indigenous philosophies, Barquet has developed a harmonious and inclusive idea of the matrix of all relationships within communities, both human and non-human. It is important to him that we regain the knowledge and spirituality of our forefathers and use them to address the environmental questions facing us today. This has led him to investigate heterodox forms of spiritual otherness and made him sensitive to the complexity of popular religious practice. This interest is reflected in one of the exhibition rooms, where the artist references various traditions relative to mourning and the cult of the dead in Mexico.
The Passage of Amnesia, Barquet tells us, means to evoke an existential marginal state, the transitional space between birth and death, life and death, memory and forgetting. In Barquet’s exhibition, we are plunged into an unsettling narrative environment, a stage the artist has set as if with a stream of consciousness mingling memories, dreams, and flashbacks. With his title The Passage of Amnesia, Barquet cites a verse by the poet Francisco Hernandez, to whom he is bound by long friendship. Recordings of the brittle voice of the poet, audibly affected by illness, as well as fragments from his poems form the starting point of a vocal performance in the exhibition. Barquet’s art accords a central role not only to poetry but also to music, including a recurring reference to Robert Schumann’s Geistervariationen (Ghost variations) and a work of the same name by contemporary composer and pianist George Tsontakis.
The sculpture Corona/Medusa (for H. Bosch) (2023), a conic form of three concentric rings, which recalls a giant candelabra arrested in the process of falling—i.e., a destabilized structure—is hung with curved parts from old rocking chairs, weatherworn scraps of wood in different shapes and shades, and braided hair. Barquet has worked time and again with fragments of rocking chairs, and he recalls how chairs would float by in floods he experienced. He treats the curved parts of rocking chairs like the syllables of words, with which he is building a linguistic-sculptural system.
Barquet has described his approach to abstraction as one inspired by poetry as well as the use of time and dynamics in music. He has created a series of works titled Syllables and refers to his works as anagrams or ideograms. In harmony with the Neo-Concreto movement in Brazil, which distanced itself from the rationalist approach of concrete art, Barquet’s geometric abstractions in a contemporary framework have an affinity with phenomenological approaches. His work, which also employs various printing techniques, reveals a heightened complexity in its surfaces, which he works over manually. Particular qualities, such as rhythm, silence, rawness, or density, stimulate different senses and even synesthesia in the viewer as he walks through Barquet’s exhibition. Barquet directs our attention toward passages, transitions, transformations, and transmutations (The Alchemist, 2023). He often produces works in the form of a series, or a theme and variations—as for instance in Waterfalls (2023). In this way, the works make manifest their immanent instability while at the same time showing us a perspective on a possible future.
Text by Lotte Laub, translated by Darrell Wilkins
Omar Barquet (b. 1979, Chetumal, Mexico) studied at the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking “La Esmeralda” in Mexico City. He has had solo exhibitions at Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno “Carlos Mérida”, Kunsthalle São Paulo, among others, and participated in the XV and XVI Bienal de Pintura Rufino Tamayo (Museo Tamayo, Mexico City). In 2018, Barquet created his first international public art project, a 7,500-square-foot mural titled Oiseaux Exotiques, commissioned by Related Group for the Paraiso Bayviews complex in Midtown Miami. Barquet has received numerous awards and grants, including the Young Artists Fellowship from the National Fund for Culture and the Arts (FONCA) and the MACG – Bancomer Arte Actual Grant (Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil) in Mexico. He has been an artist-in-residence at CAPACETE in Rio de Janeiro and Casa Tomada in São Paulo, among others, as well as MAAS, NYC; Fountainhead, Miami; Tupac, Lima; Vestfossen in Norway and Kiosko in Bolivia. Barquet co-founded the Second Floor Art Collective with Jose Luis Landét, Agustín González and Moris. He also founded the trio of sound experiments Grama Ruina with composer Fernando Soberanes and musician Javier Loyola. His work is included in the Jumex Collection, FEMSA Collection, ESPAC Collection, Jorge Pérez Collection, Sackner Collection, New Collection, JoAnn G. Hickey Collection, COPRO Collection, Related Group Collection, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Museo de Arte de Sonora, Museo Palacio de Medicina, and Phoenix Museum of Art, among others. Omar Barquet has lived and worked in Mexico City since 2000.
A performance in collaboration with composer Laurie Schwartz will take place at the opening. Performers: Citlali Huezo, Ana Kavalis, Marjolein van der Meer
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with contributions by Leslie Moody Castro, Andrea Hinteregger De Mayo, and Lotte Laub.
For further information, please contact: email@example.com
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