Sep 15  |  Oct 20, 2016

Dot Fiftyone Gallery announces “Slow in my Shadow”a solo presentation of new paintings by the prolific and active artist, Hernán Cédola . The show presents a series of large paintings and charcoal drawings produced by the artist during his four months artist in residency program at Ateliers Hoherweg E.V., Dusseldorf - Germany in the spring of 2015.

Slow in my Shadow

Sometimes I believe that all that I see doesn’t exist. Because all that I see is all that I saw. And all that I saw doesn’t exist.

Situated at some nebulous distance I do what I do, so that the universal balance of which I am a part does not lose balance.

Antonio Porchia (Voices)

II. lifevisible to us in its entirety, or before we die do we know of only one hemisphere? Painters — to speak only of them — being dead and buried, speak to a following generation or to several following generations through their works. Is that all, or is there more, even? In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing. For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream in as simple a way as the black spots on the map, representing towns and villages, make me dream. Why, I say to myself, should the spots of light in the firmament be less accessible to us than the black spots on the map of France. What’s certainly true in this argument is that while alive,wecannotgo to a star, any more than once dead we’d be able to take the train. So it seems to me not impossible that cholera, the stone, consumption, cancer are celestial means of locomotion, just as steamboats, omnibuses and the railway are terrestrial ones. To die peacefully of old age would be to go there on foot.

Vincent Van Gogh 
Letters to Théo (fragment)


A few days ago, I passed by The K20 Museum of Düsseldorf and went in again to see Francis Bacon’s two paintings, which have been spatially positioned next to each other. This was the fifth time I went in to see them. The painting on the left belongs to the Men in Blue series. The other is one of his paintings in which a beast with human traces takes center stage in the midst of an indeterminate room, which pretends to contain it or to cast it out.

The thick, dirty brush strokes are discovered later in a second look: One must stay for a long time and look at it repeatedly in order to be able to move across the painting or, at best, to let the painting penetrate us. That’s what I did, and that’s what I always do, but only with a few, Bacon being one, Van Gogh another, and with Maccio who is even closer to us. I am not able to escape from the mystery they give rise to; there is something intriguing for us to discover.

I stayed for more than an hour and a half observing the painting up close, as well as from afar, and in between. The security guard in the room look at me several times as a mere formality, gesturing that I should keep my distance: “The thing is that there are cameras here, and if they see that I don’t ask you to keep your distance, they may reprimand me,” he said, when he approached me, as if he were taking my side, as if he understood that I was not that kind of individual who would commit a reckless act. But of course! How could we not want to obsessively look at a painting, particularly one by Bacon? How could we understand it thoroughly if we don’t look painstakingly at its smaller gaps? We must develop a microscopic gaze, according to Walter Benjamin.

Details dwell within that which contains them.

The first encounter is summed up at a glance; we are only happy with that which we fancy to see. Then, that which has no shape fades away – a human vestige closer to the beastly shape we often make up into civilized collages. In that impasto of unclean paint, full of lint, dirt, and grime perfectly fitting, the depraved image – which stands in the way of the refined appearance we’d rather show as mere mortals – becomes manifest. There is no way out from the abominable truths we are made of.

It is here where we can understand in all its ramifications what Morton Feldman told us about the different meaning surface has for painters as opposed to composers: the composer creates something real – the note – out of the imagination. On the other hand, the painter creates something imaginary – the painting – from reality. An illusion.

Perhaps Bacon’s illusion makes us face that part of us that we don’t know how to put our finger on? An image, which is an illusion of seeing what, we will never really see but that, nonetheless, usurps us.

Hernán Cédola 
Notes from Düsseldorf April 14, 2015.