Bernardí Roig develops a body of work that rises up against amnesia, defending memory as a
part of a contemplative space. Walter Benjamin analysed the illusory quality of the trauerspiel
(baroque drama) which presents catastrophe to the eyes of the melancholic as if a mirror
were trying to reflect an image in darkness. The presence of the baroque, so telling for this
artist, is a hallucination: an allegory. We could well view Bernardí Roig’s work as a series of
fragmentary stories in which the point of departure is memory seen “in the light of desire”.
For Bernardí Roig, white is the space of dreams, the only colour of the instant: “All Goethe’s
Faust can be reduced to one single sentence: ‘Time stand still! You are so beautiful …’ Only
then does one understand that the moment is white. This brooks no doubt. And in all
certainty it is white, because light, once stilled, coagulates. We might then say that the gaze
has been submerged in a glass of milk, and in this glass of milk we recognise the annunciation
of a form of knowledge where the signifieds have still not copulated.” Roig’s work can be
understood as an immersion in the sublime dimension of the mystery of the gaze or as the
materialisation of unhappiness or emptiness. But this whiteness is nothing but the deceptive
appearance of background darkness.
Over the last twenty years or so, Roig has addressed the mythological passage of the fatal
encounter between Actaeon and Diana and the transformation of the former into a stag (a
true “hunter hunted” that cannot tell what his eyes have seen as his body is cruelly torn to
pieces by his own hounds), believing it to be key for his obsessive theory of vision on the brink
As Fernando Castro tells us, “Bernardí Roig’s work might be no more than a deadly
rompecabezas, a jigsaw puzzle or literally ‘head-breaker’, the obsessive sediment of someone
entrenched in a head faced with a culture of embalmed moments.
The Aphonic Poets and the Silence of Actaeon is the third exhibition by Bernardi Roig at our
space in Vienna. This project showcases a series of works (drawings, videos, sculptures,
paintings and photos) made over recent years that combine and intertwine his fascination
with the representation of the face—the series POETS—and the gaze of Actaeon, that
transgressive gaze that challenges the prohibition of the divine and insists on seeing what is
outside the possibility of sight. These images speak to us of non-communication, of the
failure of the word and the aphony of poetry; of a distrust of representation and language.
These works have the qualities of a mirror, they trap and deform our image and return to us
a perforated face without sureties trapped between silence and amnesia.