Sonata | Wladymir Bernechea: Curatorial Text | Jaime Cuevas

10 - 31 August 2022

"Space would be to place what the word becomes when spoken, that is to say, when trapped in the ambiguity of an execution, changed into a term involving multiple conventions, presented as the act of a present (or of a time) and modified by the transformations due to successive proximities...".[1]

Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Continuing with the pictorial research and quest for meaning in his last exhibition (Lovesong, April 2021), Wladymir Bernechea presents us with ethereal subjects, disrupted bodies and impossible landscapes. Insisting on the use of painting as a producer of symbols and metaphors, the artworks shown in Sonata question the spectator by reactivating what is intrinsic to their production: the construction of meaning and experience. It's precisely this possibility offered by painting as an artistic genre that demands the presence of its perception (due to its technical, material and manufacturing condition), that is, as a testimonial object in a double sense. On one side, as a testimony of the artist's subjectivity and future - and therefore capable of being dated and historicised - and on the other, susceptible to being narrated by those who witness it. This exercise not only manifests the artist and his place of enunciation but also questions the demand for completeness of the work itself, insofar as it does not end with the spectator but implies both a moment of openness and impossibility. The problem of meaning and the expectation of meaning interact as a promise that cannot be fulfilled. 
Lovesong was hailed for its masterful handling of the pictorial technique as a medium (stain, impasto and colouring), as well as the presence of recurring motifs expressed in poses, structures, forms and subjects in impossible places. Sonata goes a step further: it is not only the transit between characters and moments but the construction of a place in the world that deserves to be inhabited. Geometric bodies intervene in human figuration and landscape, a silent dialogue between those who live in the space they dominate. Being out of time demands being situated in the space. The reinvention of the landscape allows us to imagine a complete system of coexistence not only for the characters present here but also for its materiality. Light, shadow, greys and whites coexist with paste, structures and geometric forms of faceless individuals. The lack of subject does not imply a silence in expression. 
By definition, the pictorial portrait allows us to attest to a person's identity and individuality, to imagine their inner world and the very link between them and the artist. The intention of the portrait is suppressed by the melancholic metaphor of identity, replaced by bodily forms and volumes. On the contrary, however much one might be tempted, what we see here are not portraits of particular identities but the artist's self-perception and subjectivity. Faced with the question of the relationship of subjects to each other and others, the corporeality of the self emerges as a problem. In this sense, as the anthropologist, David Le Breton points out: "the body [is] the enclosure of the subject, the place of its limit and its freedom, the privileged object of a configuration and of a will to dominate, but also the place of a solitude".[2] If the body is the enclosure of the subject, visual representations are the enclosure of the imagination. 
Individuality and melancholy are latent issues in this exhibition. Paraphrasing the anthropologist Marc Augé: the combined experience of the place we inhabit and the one that is no longer it constitute a particular experience of a form of solitude. This positioning as a matter of overmodernity implies the experience of contemplation of the landscape that is promised to be contemplated and that cannot be contemplated, thus generating an attitude of pleasure where solitude is expressed as excess or emptying of individuality, where the mere movement of the images leaves a blurred glimpse of the one who watches them disappear.
Sonata invites us to remember one of the most characteristic qualities of painting: the moment when matter and expression converge as a mechanism of perception and self-perception about ourselves.


Jaime Cuevas, researcher.
August 2022.

[1] Merleau-Ponty, M. (1993). Fenomenología de la Percepción. Barcelona: Planeta-DeAgostini.

[2] Le Breton, D. (2002). Antropología del Cuerpo y Modernidad. Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión.