A Spanish Artist Revisits Enigmas and the Power of Repetition

The handwritten text at the center of La Parte Ustraída Adquiere Una Nueva Naturaleza (2016)a new work by Spanish avant-garde artist Néstor Sanmiguel Diest—looks academic, even scientific. It is dense with phrases like pulsiones sexuales (sexual drives) and síntesis activa (active synthesis).

In fact, it’s a translated excerpt from Difference and Repetition, the magnum opus of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995). The text serves as a primary source of inspiration for Sanmiguel Diest, who is currently showing “Revisitando Enigmas,” his first solo exhibition at Carlier | Gebauer in Berlin.

Deleuze, a self-described “pure metaphysician,” wrote about multiplicity and the unpredictable effects of repetition. Originally a patternmaker, Sanmiguel Diest has built his art-making practice in part around Deleuze’s ideas—namely, the power of differences and repetition.

There are mathematical underpinnings to Sanmiguel Diest’s assemblages. They are based on algorithms and filled with symbols—their own forms of logic—yet their busyness gives way to beauty. In addition to traditional materials like acrylic paint, graphite, and ink, Sanmiguel Diest mixes magazine and newspaper clippings, layering them in references to cultural myths and great works of literature and philosophy.

For instance, El Suicidio De Lucrecia / La Vela Amarilla (2000) draws from historical legend: A Roman woman took her own life after being raped by the son of an Etruscan king, thereby changing the course of ancient Roman history. As Sanmiguel Diest knows, the legend has been famously repeated, first by Botticelli, Titian, and Rembrandt, and now by himself. Curiously, he finds something impure in these repetitions, including his own: They’re merely “contaminated information.”


Bridget Gleeson


Néstor Sanmiguel Diest: Revisitando Enigmas” is on view at Carlier | Gebauer, Berlin, Feb. 13–Mar. 19, 2016.

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