Hernán Cédola is having his second solo exhibition with Dot Fiftyone, “Untergehen,” a series of large paintings in the same vein of his previous period, although making headway in his search of some of the tensions from the field of abstraction.
“The work of art is to drift, to wander,” explains Cédola, “although beauty is always encumbering things, and sometimes the painting comes about as a result of our struggle with it.”
“Untergehen,” the title of the exhibition, is a German word with several meanings. In the first place, it means to go (gehen) down (unter). It can also be used to name the sunset, to sink, to set. However, it could also mean to be wrecked, to founder, and to go to ruin. It is a fundamental term in one of the most famous works by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. “Man, thus spoke Zarathustra, is a transit and an exit . . . he was moving toward his own sunset.”
“Untergehen is a rich word,” Cédola said, “which makes reference to the language and to the character that I have been trying to flesh out in these paintings. However, it is a word that can be used at different levels. For example, some knots in the history of abstraction can be explained from this going under, this getting off from some languages which are supposed to be effective, beautiful, proven, in order to transform the work of art into a space of struggle.”
When asked about this struggle, he elaborated: “The problem is that there is already too much beauty, too many beautiful objects in the world,” he said, “with the added difficulty that these objects always secure an ever increasing social prestige. That is why I like to think of beauty as a failure. And that changes the axis - the coordinates, allowing new possibilities to break forth, which until now had seemed to have been subverted by prettiness. This work gathers together these questions,” he explained, “questions about the field of abstraction and, also, about the sway of beauty in that field, and about the tensions it has always given rise to. We know that beauty is despotic and, yet, it reinvents itself at the same time, and much of that reinvention falls on the shoulders of the artists. I think I had all that in mind when I was painting, and I didn’t want to be naïf in this regard.”