On Method and a Man’s Chaotic Madness: The Recent Work of Sebastian Vallejo

por: Ralph Vazquez

“Whether representational or abstract, all art is, in essence, artifice. And while the physical properties of materials undeniably constrain what artists can accomplish, the creative process must transcend physics or else cease to be creative.”

-Andrzej Herczynski, Claude Cernuschi and L. Mahadevan, published on Physics Today on an article titled Painting with drops, jets and sheets

The epigraph to this review posits an interesting elucidation for an argument about what defines art in the 21st century more so than in other ages, and this is the integration of scientific inquiry as something inherent to the variety of artistic ambitions. Since the beginning of the story of painting, historical developments like Brunelleschi’s rediscovery of linear perspective or da Vinci’s sfumato technique have been the cause for pause and appreciation; to see how an artist seemingly tricks our understanding of physics or optics and deploys math or science to ignite the imagination of the spectator through their art. In the fore mentioned article the authors expand upon the work of American painter Jackson Pollock, and how his art is subject to assessment by way of fluid dynamic analysis of his trademark painting technique. Jack the Dripper gets broken down to a science as the authors explain the whys and the hows of some of the most outstanding works in his oeuvre, and even explain that what he did was not in fact ‘drip’ but ‘stream’ paint, rendering the well known moniker as inaccurate.

In the recent exhibition of Sebastian Vallejo, titled Methodic Chaos, one cannot help but feel the impulse to apply a similar rigor in considering his new style. A mixture of multimedia painting techniques and expanded approaches to creating a pictorial composition, the new series is a loud and clear declaration to the vibrant state of painting today. His paintings created by transferred pigment from a plastic material’s non-absorbent surface to the canvas creates a random but very elaborate and beautiful impression, which he manipulates to create all-over composition reminiscent of the original Abstract Expressionist zeitgeist. These works appeal to a comparison to aerial photographs of geological structures such as mountain belts or even the grains of ionized plasma in the surface of our Sun. These associations, all very contemporary and highly ordered, speak to the possibilities still available to painters, and to us spectators in the face of non-objective art.

The work of this artist is subject to physical measurement of the pigments thickness and its ability to ‘stick’ or hold onto another surface. These variables determine the possible outcome of the technique, and to be able to intuitively manipulate that outcome, like Pollock did, enables Vallejo to, as the authors of the article mentioned on the epigraph said, “relinquish some degree of control to natural phenomena so that his art can become open to quantitative analysis”. Surface tension of liquids and viscosity unfastens the possibility for considering Vallejo’s new work, and his deep philosophical approach, insinuated in his works’ titles, makes it possible for us to navigate his eschatological approach to life today. A work like What a Wonderful Feeling (2011), with an almost radioactive vibrancy is a statement of victory over the darkness that sometimes looms over the human heart, as is also the work titled White Noise (2010).

Vallejo’s work appeal to the exercise of vision and invention, as he adapts available materials in the fabrication of deep psychological landscapes. He invents for us to see and we invent to take in what we are seeing. No matter how technologically savvy artists or the public get painting, as a medium, still has this unparalleled allure to send us off into reverie and thus into the depths of our human condition. As the title suggests there is a method to this chaos we are seeing and that method is the product of our heart’s desire to be understood. This exhibit is a showcase of something the artist wants us to understand very clearly, and that is that no matter what cometh to a painter, at heart, a painter who is worthy of the challenge, as certainly he is, will always face the music and dance.

The exhibition is currently on view at ÁREA Metro: Plataforma until September 30, 2011. On the 24th of September at 3:00pm there shall be a panel discussing this new series of paintings by Sebastian Vallejo at the exhibition space.

Photos/Fotos: Abdiel D. Segarra

*Además de la docuemntación del trabajo de Sebastián Vallejo, añadimos lagunas imagenes de la exhibición colectiva que se celebró paralelamente en una de las slas del espacio METRO.

Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO
Methodic Caos - Sebastián Vallejo en METRO

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