04 June 2014

Manuel Fernández

Desktop Screenshot Paintings, 2012

It took me some time to do this post since I visited Manuel Fernández's studio in Madrid last February, at the same time that took place ARCO. Actually was great to visit him in this time as he won the electronic art award ARCOmadrid/BEEP with his piece "On Kawara Time Machine”, 2011 which is represented by the Spanish gallery Moisés Pérez de Albéniz. This is an ongoing online piece, created using a javascript counter that shows automatically the On Kawara time based works from the beginning of "Date paintings" in January 4, 1966, to the actual date acording to the operating system clock. The Project will be completed at the date of the death of On Kawara, including a new variable in the code, the counter will count from the origin of "Date paintings" to the date of his dead. This piece despite to be a website was exhibited and sold at ARCO through a smart monitor which allows to be always connected to the internet to make it run. Now it is part of the BEEP digital collection.

I had not many expectations to find a lot of digital art at ARCO, actually I found less than 3 years ago when I attended it as first time, excluding some pieces represented by Future Gallery which were digitally designed but physically produced in form of of CC-Print, 3D print or sculpture from artists such as Jaakko Pallasvuo, Spiros Hadjidjanos and Jon Rafman. Also huge chromogenic prints from Thomas Ruff JPEG IR01 and IR02 created in 2005 represented by Helga de Alvear Gallery. And I'm sure few more I didn't see but it seems  in 2014 digital art is still away from the art market in spanish contemporary art fairs or exhibitions of high standing.

I asked Manuel what he thinks about why the galleries that exhibit at ARCO have little interest in this medium or why they don't valuate it as traditional art.
Manuel tells us, ARCO is an event where you have the opportunity to see artworks like in a gallery or in a museum, it is not intended as didactic, it is a market , traditional media are deeply rooted in the market for collectors who buy and investment are a set value, more or less secure though subject to fluctuations , while digital art despite having nearly 20 years of experience, is relatively new to the market, perhaps we might consider the first auction of Paddle 8 as the first serious exercise to break into the general art market. The fact that no prior knowledge of market prices relative to digital works on which to base the collector or secondary market, produces a sense of insecurity in the investment that will make the collector, he does not know if the success of a particular piece is the result of the moment and lose value over time . I think this is a process of assimilation and visibility in the general art market. While it is clear that the market for Digital Arts has already begun and is here to stay.

On Kawara Time Machine, 2011

Manuel who is working lately full time as artist showed me his studio which is an space into his own house, located in the south of Madrid close to Matadero Madrid. Manuel's work place looks as an hybrid studio where he has a lot of material from plastic disciplines such as oil and acrylic paint and brushes that make reference to his initial artistic carrier and the other half room has a desktop computer where he usually works using different formats as JPEGs, GIFs, video and website.

The rest of house is nicely decorated with digital prints from other artists whom have exchanged pieces with him such as Leanne Eissen, Kim Asendorf, Anthony Antonellis and Yoshi Sodeoka. It was great to have a personal introduction to Manuel's previous an ongoing pieces, below you can find some projects I haven't posted before here:

Desktop Screenshot Paintings, 2012

"The ongoing series takes as its starting point the historic painting theme the artist's studio.Displays different computer desktops as current studios in which we work today, creating a temporary historical sweep between the immediacy of a screenshot and craftsmanship of oil painting.The works were commissioned on Internet to realistic figurative painters. All 60x40cm Oil on canvas." — http://www.manuelfernandez.name/Desktop-Screenshot-Paintings

Green Monochrome, 2013

"Green monochrome explores the mechanisms of contemporary image making in relation with the content that we consume daily through Internet in our digital devices.
Inspiring by historic monochrome abstraction, the green monochrome color used in the video, is the color that the moving image industry use to create chroma key, a technic that let you make transparent all the areas recorded with this kind of green, with the objective of introduce through computer software, other images that let modify the original visual content." — http://www.manuelfernandez.name/Green-Monochrome

Colorama Paradise, 2012

"The series explores the relationship between painting and photography investigating the mechanisms of visual perception. The frames are part of the work, turning their decorative quality in a functional element for the activation of the parts. Spectrum gradient color panels in the field of photography that we see in digital editing tools, take three-dimensional physical form by painting the frames, now the color of the image is where we should find the decoration and image that should carry the color comes in black and white.
The photographs were taken in the botanical garden of La Concepción in Malaga, built around 1855 by the Marquis of Loring. It is an English style landscape garden, one of the few gardens with subtropical plants that exist in Europe, which housed some of the species that today have become extinct in their original places." — http://www.manuelfernandez.name/Colorama-Paradise

Process / painting the frames

Provisional Landscape, 2013

"The aesthetics generated by the digital edition industry and the self distribution possibilities on the Internet in the age of social networking, shapes the visual reality we perceive diary. Provisional Landscape is a journey composition generated from audiovisual stock material." — http://www.manuelfernandez.name/Provisional-Landscape

Manuel is constantly involved in numerous shows some of the recent solo exhibitions have been Green Monochrome at Fach & Asendorf Gallery curated by Kim Asendorf y Ole Fach, Broken Gradient. #101 a window art project in LA curated by David Quiles Guilló and group shows such as Presente Continuo curated by Cristina Anglada and Abraham Rivera at the Centro Cultural Conde Duque in Madrid, DVD Dead Drop Vol. 5. Curated by Fach & Asendorf at the Museum of Moving Image in New York and Decenter, an exhibition on the centenary of the 1913 Armory exhibition at Abrons Art Center in NY. To know more about his upcoming projects check out his front page at http://www.manuelfernandez.name/ 

One of the most popular pieces of Manuel is titled Broken Gradients, previously featured here, he has been working over and adapting this piece and aesthetic to multiples formats, digitally as well as physically such as in New Ruins. Google Earth TourBroken Gradient Window and it even took shape of a fashion collection designed by Études Studio, the latest work is called BG Paintings, a new series using UV Paint on canvas, image below. 

See Manuel Fernandez's previous works published at TRIANGULATION http://www.triangulation.jp/search/label/manuel_fernandez