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Ricardo Arcos - Palma - El Museo Gallery



El Museo gallery held an exhibition entitled Alétheia Un-concealments by Colombian artist Jaime Franco (Cali, Colombia, 1963). This work is done and undone on a big wall in a process that generates new images that convey, on the one hand, the inevitable passage of time and, on the other, the creation of a kind of archeology of the image in which memory and the present come harmoniously together. The same principle of this painting and drawing (and then photography and video) is the un-concealment, and it takes place on the wall of mud that the artist picks in several parts of the country. Architectural drawings that somehow remind us of historic buildings are created on the wall and then erased with water, leaving a trace behind that amalgamates with other similar forms. This superimposition of images opens a wide spectrum of tonalities that allow the veiling and unveiling of something that is very close to a mystery: an enigma. This is essentially the same as Alétheia: to uncover something but through concealment, "as when a butterfly flaps its wings," says Franco. This revealing, hiding and un-hiding leaves a work-trace at the end of the process, as if insisting that time is also memory and not just a fleeting occurrence.


In leaving the very process of the work exposed, the artist assigns his work this additional value that goes beyond completing, finishing or finalizing it. In this sense, the work by Franco would perhaps be in resonance with the "Theory of formativity," enunciated by Luigi Pareyson, who insisted that there was something intrinsic in the work of art that enables the form to continue being composed beyond the artist's decision; a theory that Umberto Eco applied to his famous Open Work. By revealing this process in that "brutalism," the artist merely insists on exposing the scaffolding of his images, which in turn are enriched by showing the before and after at the same time. This is where the video illustrates the artistic process. Viewers can observe the work in progress; a fact that becomes a fundamental artistic experience, a "physical experience" (Franco) that in one way or another is shared with the viewer.


This is what happened in two of his works: Nave (Ship, July- October 2013) and Barrena (Auger, October 2013-February 2014). In the former, a fragment of a 17th Century building is unfolded and re-configured on the wall, under the same procedure aforementioned, creating a futuristic image that appears to float in the space thanks to the movement of this image that, created with several layers, seems to rotate over its own axis. Photographs and a video serve as testimony of this process that only a few have been able to see. The second work whose title, according to the artist, is associated with the word "barreña" (clay pot), could be observed as it was being created in the studio. This work has its origins in The Marriage of the Virgin (1054) by Raphael Sanzio. The construction in the background of painting could serve as pre-text to Jaime Franco to extract a fraction from the lower part, thus eliminating some details. This figure devoid of its architectural dome rotates in space, creating a sense of movement, allowing the gaze to delve deep into a problem that also Renaissance artists wondered about: namely, that art—painting in particular—is conceived in relation to the architectural space.


Alétheia refers to the geometric shapes that Leonardo da Vinci created to illustrate the book titled The Divine Proportion (1509) by Luca Pacioli. Franco transforms and reinterprets them through the computer. The work is an excellent visual reflection that delves into a world where art and science continue a dialog that is sort of anachronistic in nature (Didi-Huberman), where the past is link to the present. Alétheia is then that truth that is obvious and that should not be hidden, which is constantly unveiled and revealed like an enigma. But, what truth is it? Where is such truth revealed? There is a "primary" element—the earth—that mixed with water becomes matter and form to build and shape that truth, turning that which we do not see into something evident (Heidegger).



Ricardo Arcos - Palma is a critic and theorist of art and culture. As well as a teacher of the National University of Colombia.



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