Sofía Jack

08 Sep - 22 Oct 2011

© Sofía Jack
Carboncillo sobre papel
34.1 x 38.4 cm
Todo lo solido se desvanece en el aire
8 September - 22 Octoiber, 2011


Sofía Jack has sampled the suggestive title of her new solo exhibition of the header that the philosopher from New York, Marshall Berman gave in his most popular book. In "All that is Solid Vanishes into Thin Air" (essay from 1982), Marx is Berman's starting point to embark on the thesis of modern culture and mentality as illustrated myths that are recreated over and over again. According to Berman, in the modern world nothing is certain except that everything is mutable and it can all disappear. Thus, in reality, modernity and modernism are irrationality disguised as rationality.

Something similar represents the main focus of this new proposal by Sofía Jack, the first since 2007 and, we must admit, the artist's most complex and complete project so far. The observation of the rational-emotional dichotomy, in other words, deciphering the volume, weight and size that occupy each one of those categories in our lives and finding a balance between them, seems to be the premises of her new work.

Jack's method continues to be the usual: to put at our disposal everyday objects once they have been reduced to abstract fragments and their more immediate functionality subtracted, in order to see herself reflected (to see ourselves reflected) in them.

On this occasion, moreover, she extends one of her main lines of visual and conceptual concerns: the private space, the intimate home.

In the past five years, the artist has been particularly interested in the symbolic attribution of such a theme; by the way its structure and interior reveal how their resident is. In her previous series of works on "Casa B-300," she tried to find an imaginary solution to the conflict between the architectural ideal that originated with the lecorbusierian "new spirit" and the privacy of the home: between the coldness of the designed space and the warmth of the populated, familiar, inhabited, lived in place.

Once again the domestic place appeals to Jack as a sphere where the psychological, emotional and affective fact takes place, as a translation of daily life; the event and its effects on us; as a mirror of our personal and non-transferable life story. The house as a second body, as an emotional and psychological colonization. Such a theme gives way, in some degree, to the two sets of works presented here.

On the other hand, it's the basis of the excellent series of charcoal drawings on paper, where the task of (re)learning the technique of drawing undertaken in the past three years leads to results rather distant from the exuberant innocence of previous attempts. "Household Scenarios" consists essentially of the purified capture loaded with classicist plasticism of everyday and intimate environments, yet highly aestheticised. They're household drawings based on its image in architectural publications from the first half of the twentieth century; that is to say, right in the moment in which the growing concept of the comfortable, intimate and familiar home clashes with the rationalistic pretensions of the modern movement architecture.

Although there isn't any human presence in any of them, the maintenance of some part of that intimacy is still represented, as is an air of reverie that gives rise to questions about its inhabitants. Divided into three groups (living rooms, stairs and bedrooms) these interiors, in fact, often appear as spaces for couples. Except for the mysterious, disturbing, lyncheana series of "stairs" (which may well be taken as a symbol of transition from the rational to the irrational, the rational to the emotional), the duality arises at every step in the furniture and fittings of these scenarios.

The artist interprets these drawings as a kind of graphic haiku in reverse. Clear language to capture a feeling, an emotional atmosphere that leads to a reflection beyond the sensorial character distinctive of this sort of poetry, are removed from their usual natural external environment to be introduced within the home.

With this series, Sofía Jack will have already achieved a coherent and magnificent solo exhibition. But this doesn't end there.

A final great drawing (one in which human beings appear) shows in his study the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg, one of the creators of Neoplasticism and his organizing rationalism to create a multidisciplinary visual style with simple, clear shapes and primary colours, but subsequently also utopian of an harmonic fusion of such rationalism with a strong humanism, what would eventually separate it from Neoplasticism and propel the group Abstraction-Creation. The connection isn't surprising. The fact is that precisely where Van Doesburg embodied such ideas was above all in his interior design projects. There he experimented with the objective to reach a kind of rationalism in tune with the emotional.

So that image, which can be interpreted as an emblem of the quest, perhaps utopian, that Sofía Jack undertook, serves as a transition to the second group of works that amplify the meaning behind the exhibition, "Brief Chromophilic Poems". From grey shaded drawings we jump to a continuous animation where, indeed, everything vanishes into thin air. The story is articulated by set of four haikus (two created by the artist, the other two by Kerouac) that have to do with a Carrollian trip from the interior to the exterior (or vice versa) and back in a spiral, where the domestic spaces (odd, deformed) overflow and penetrate in a whirlwind.

The vehicle of such narrative is the chromatic order proposed by Albert Hickethier through his famous "cube", which becomes another protagonist. The trip starts in white and ends in black, crossing the whole chromatic gamut. Sofía Jack has begun to overcome chromophobia ("Colour has always disturbed me") and to work enthusiastically with colour since the discovery of its encoded use through such kinds of order. With its use, not only does it address a matter proper of visual arts, as is the use of colour, while finding new temperatures for her work, but stumbles fully across a substantive issue that concerns her the most: the duality emotion-reason.

Colour is an abstraction and, in some way, even a social convention. However, at the same time, this is a purely emotional issue, related to personal privacy and the exterior of the body. Colour is also, like the house, a second skin, makeup that masks the inner self, although likewise, it may be thought as an expression of it. Similarly one would think that charcoal greys (black and white) mask with seriousness and rational solemnity something far more outrageous and incomprehensible. Where is virtue? What's more emotional and what's more rational? What's makeup of what?

A Trip of colour, irrational and insane, one might almost say mescaline (stimulated by the sonorous creation of DJ Costa), is what these animated haikus propose. With "Brief Chromophilic Poems" from within the household and based on the colour order proposed by Hickethier, the artist Sofía Jack closes her best attempt to date with a magnificent brooch that places her at the summit that points in the confluence of reason and emotion. Or, at least, between her two question marks.

Abel H. Pozuelo

Tags: Theo van Doesburg, Sofía Jack