Oscar Ledesma

Artist & Gallerist & Curator

6. September 2016
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Stan Getz with Guest Artist Laurindo Almeida

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La portada tiene un Sol que pareciera uno maya o inca, hecho con pequeño mosaicos en colores que recuerdan a la tierra. Es de los Verve Records, impreso en Alemania en 1966, diez años antes de que yo naciera. Lo compré hace casi un mes, con la intención de escucharlo y escribir sobre él, el primero de una serie: El Vinyl de la semana.

El de la tienda de discos me conoce muy bien, su negocio esta al lado de donde estaba mi galeria de arte. Conoce bien mis gustos musicales: Bossa Nova, Bebop, Trova, etc. La semana anterior había comprado Tristeza de Oscar Peterson  Así que ya estabe encaminado. Era inevitable. Te va a gustar, me dijo.

El disco viene en una funda café , con solamente el logo de Verve.

Lado 1. 1. Minina Moca. Es tan retro hablar de un LP, poner la aguja al principio y escuchar el ruidito que hacen los discos antes de empezar (y que dejó de existir con los cds y mp3s). Entonces empieza, sin temores, así como si nada, una samba, un ritmo cadencioso, Stan Getz sube y baja a travéz de la melodía y la batería se disuelve en el fondo. Uno se siente inmediatemente transportado a alguna playa de noche, mareado talvez por un mojito, luego, el saxofón se silencia y empiezan a bailar el bajo y la guitarra en un dialogo sugerente.

2. Once Again. Jobim. Seguimos con un Bossa Nova lento, que invita a bailar a a escucharlo una noche fresca acompañado de un vinito blanco. La pieza se desarrolla como una tertulia, en la que todos poco a poco tienen algo que decir, se interrumpen unos a otros y se desarrollan pequeños monólogo.

3. Winter Moon. Una de las piezas lentas y románticas del Disco. Es como estar en una película de Peter Sellers, acampañado de Claudia Cardinale y Capucine, despues de algún rodaje en Suiza o en elguna isla griega ¡vamos que solo de escucharla uno se siente más sofisticado y cosmopolita!

El Lado 1 se termina, la aguja recorre los últimos centímetros y el r-r-r-r-r se oye hasta que la punta llega al fina. Clac. Y hay que darle vuelta al disco.

Lado 2. 1. Do what you do. El tenor del disco ya se plantó en el lado 1, ahora se pueden desarrollar los temas más libremente. Ya sebemos a que atenernos, samba y bossa nova se entrelazan.

2. Samba da Sahra.  Ya se va plantendo la salida del disco. Solamente son seis piezas y esta es la penúltima. La guitarra y el saxofón se contrapuntean, Getz y Almeida se van dando pulsos. La pieza termina con los mismos acordes con los que empezó.

3. Maracatu-Too. Es la pieza que menos me gusta del disco, talvez por que es más rápida que las otras, digo, si ya estamos por terminar el disco porqué hacerlo así, como a las carreras, la música es mas bien de carnaval. Por momentos la base ritmica de tambores y timbales dominan a la melodía.

El disco termina abruptamente. Tan solo han sido poco más de treinta minutos de buena música.

28. Juni 2016
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Retreat – Les ecrivains maudits

Just like writing, painting usually starts out as an introspective process.

Jorge Luis Borges once said that he was much prouder of all the books he had read than of those he wrote himself. A quote which to me shows a kind of false modesty. But I recognize myself in this quote: I, too, am very proud of all the books I have read throughout the years. These images are thus meant as a hommage to authors, who, as I discovered them at various points in my life, represent important landmarks in my personal story. The series is conceived as a  work in progress, since my personal list of authors with that quality is quite long: Baudelaire, Papini, Nietzsche, Fuentes, Faulkner, Sontag, etc.

When I read Emil Cioran for the first time, I was fascinated by his aphorisms and how they are able to recreate nothingness and hopeless situations with an immense power. For me, Cioran will always stand for a mixture between Nietzschean aphorisms and Japanese haiku poetry: highly sophisticated, perfect pearls of truth.

Charles Bukowski is the direct opposite to this kind of literature. Using direct, violent words, he describes the pitilessness of life, our tough reality. Sometimes, he might seem a little too bold and simple, but he is always poetic. He is kind of a dirty John Fante combined with an alcoholic Knut Hamsun.

Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett, on the other hand, taught that in literature (and thus art), one is not only able to free oneself from social conventions, but also from the seemingly unshakable laws of grammar. Tropic of Cancer and Molloy are the most striking examples of this type of literature.

But my personal favorite is still Roberto Bolaño. I think he is and will be the best writer of our generation, of this century. Within a very small range of published works, he managed to present to us and combine an all-encompassing bildungsroman (a la Thomas Mann‘s Zauberberg), new experimental forms (a la Ulysses by James Joyce) and pointless violence (as in Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald), Bolaño is our modern Virgil, a literary tutor and companion during our earthly journey.

28. Juni 2016
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Forest 2.0

Chance creates beauty
Software. Digital print. Large variables. 2014.

I often promised myself to never let my work as a mathematician and programmer influence my work as an artist. But sometimes it nevertheless happens, for instance in my project Forest 2.0. I hit on the basic idea while contemplating an older oil painting of mine, which shows a symmetrical tree diagram ending in colorful blossoms, together with mysterious mathematical formulas.

My educational background as a number theorist played an important role during the genesis of Forest 2.0: I wrote a computer program, based on the ancient idea that any number can be written as a product of prime numbers. After entering some parameters, this code generates cryptic looking tree diagrams and saves them as vector graphics. I then edit and adjust them using an image editing tool. Since the results are saved as infinitely scalable graphics, they can be printed out in any size.

But although I am responsible for the whole creative process – from the mathematical knowledge required to code the recursive script to the digital editing and printing the result – randomness always plays a role in the process. At its core, chance is a very natural and likewise artistic entity, since it creates beauty. In any closed system with continuously arising random events, human beings recognize a form of pleasing, often truly aesthetic symmetry.

Of course, I always define a specific height and a starting number for all trees, which roughly control the ferocity of their proliferation. But their specfic look is always created by a randomized computer algorithm based on constantly decreasing numerical values. I also let the algorithm randomly define some color parameters.

One thing, however, is always done by myself and not by chance: the actual selection of which of the trees created get printed out and framed in the end. Thus, ultimately, the artist still has final authority when it comes to defining what a real artwork is – and not randomness.

Buy a Print here

Bildschirmfoto 2016-06-28 um 21.58.34

28. Juni 2016
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On mercy and being merciless

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.

Amen.

 

This is a prayer many people in Mexico learn as children, and many times these are also their last words: Piedad. Ruega por nosostros.

The series of paintings is the result of deep concerns regarding Mexico and what is happening in the country. The whole series displays tortured and executed human beings, images one can see in newspapers every day. I use these as an outlined foundation and afterwards paint weeping Madonnas over them. I aim to use them to represent the fragmentation and suffering of the nation.

I selected an image from the series which displays six corpses hanging off a footbridge, which happened some years ago in the state of Veracruz. Three of the six were women who were raped and afterwards tortured to death. Their hanging corpses were meant as a direct message to the state, signifying that the Mexican drug cartels are more powerful than official institutions. After this incident, the government stated that the executed people were members of one cartel who were killed by members of a competitor.  Many such statements have been made in similar cases.  It is as if there is often a different, real truth that one will never discover. Piedad. Mercy.

A sketch of an Aesthetic of Infernal Mercy

Hannah Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil can without question be applied to Mexico. The current situation is influenced by enormous problems that can occur in an evil  bureaucracy where the act of killing gets trivialized.

People are not only killed but also tortured. After the murders, their corpses are often also desecrated. I will not go into more detail just for the sake of it.  It is already difficult enough to know that such things are part of Mexican everyday life at all.

There is a long tradition in the visual arts of displaying all kinds of cruelty in paintings. Currently the Schirn museum in Frankfurt exhibits works by Théodore Gericault, who was famous for his accurate and discomforting representations of dissected corpses. The exhibition also includes one of his most famous pieces, The Raft of the Medusa. It displays the wreck of the French naval frigate Méduse, a tragedy during which 132 seamen died.

Goya’s The Third of May 1808 or his Black Paintings shocked Spanish society. Among currently active artists, the works of Gottfried Helnwein express a direct offense to the idea of innocence. One can also think of Hermann Nitsch and his depiction of sacramental violence, and of Joel-Peter Witkin and his representation of raw ugliness.

Mercy in times of drug wars

In the last twelve years, over fifty thousand Mexicans were killed in the drug war. Among them were many innocent people, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Often, the Mexican government considers these victims as suspects and regards their death as deserved.

The response of the Catholic Church to these problems is two-faced. On one hand, many priests fight for social equality,  and regularly receive death threats and thus constantly fear for their lives.  However on the other hand are many priests who are accomplices of the cartels, for example they accept payments of several million pesos to splendidly renovate their churches, in keeping with the motto: When god receives the money, it is always just.

Almost 500 years ago, the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to the indigenous man Juan Diego. Tradition has it that she stated: I take Mexico under my wings. You are the very smallest of all my children.
Does she still protect Mexico today? Did she forget us?

Within this context, the work presented here was also heavily influenced by Georges Bataille, especially his philosophical treatise The Tears of Eros.

If mercy is God’s expression of love, what then is mercilessness? Is it God’s hatred? Oblivion? Indifference? Or was Pelagius right when he stated that God’s creation was malignant?

 

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28. Juni 2016
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Aletheia – Theory of everything

This series of images is strongly influenced by my scientific background.  It functions as a monumental catalog that reveals relationships between anatomy, organic symmetry and mathematical diagrams.

Every work within this series can be described as a more or less evident form of collage. Not only are the motifs often composed as a collage, but the specific effect of the images is also a result of the different, characterizing painting materials: acryl, oil and ink.

Because of specific emulsion effects due to interfacial tension, these three painting substances can be combined in very interesting ways. In a way, I force them to work together in a kind of artistic quarrel and let the results of this quarrel define themselves. Thus, I can analyze them scientifically and not as artworks.

But I also try to break this scheme by intervening at specific points during the process. In this way – and by rotating the canvas 90 and 180 degrees multiple times – I constantly try not to be subjugated by usually consulted compositional schemes.

A strong contrast between defined forms and incomplete figures, between partially shown muscle complexes and intense motifs can be recognized in these works. The mysterious diagrams and symmetrical ornaments – held together by the theoretical concept of cohomology – let the viewer dive into the worlds that exist within both my artistic and mathematical mindset.

These paintings unite the differences between reason and faith, science and chaos, control and violence. The result is an impulsive competition between forms and concepts, which invite the viewer to participate in their dynamic expression.

27. Juni 2016
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Un aristócrata melenudo que escribe

Peter Esterhazy es uno de esos autores a los que sólo he leído en alemán.  Richard KapuscinskiHerta Müller son otros.

Es como si sólo les conociera una voz. Me explico. Bruce Willis. Si, Die Hard, o duro de matar o Stirb langsam, Bruce tiene zu voz original, su voz en español latinoamericano y su voz en alemán y afortunadamente los actores que doblan su voz al aleman y al español son los mismos (eso creo), entonces siempre suena igual.

Lo mismo pasa con Woody Allen, sus películas viejas estan dobladas por el mismo actor en español y por el mismo en alemán.

A menos que se sea un genio linguistico no se puede leer siempre en el orginal, Kapuściński o Lem en Polaco, Sorokin en ruso, Soseki en japones,  Houellebecq en frances, etc, etc. En algún momento tomé la decisión de dividir mis lecturas de la siguiente forma:

– Autores cuyo idioma original es el español, los leo en español, a menos que lo que quiera sea comparar la traducción alemana con el original, así es como leí 2666 en sendos idomas.
– Autores cuyo idioma origina es el alemán, los leo en alemán.
– Autores cuyo primer libro leí en alemania en alemán, los leo en alemán.
– El resto los leo indistintamente

De vez en cuendo intento leer alguno en Ingles, pero normalmente el intento se pierde en el camino.

Mi mayor problema es que no domino el alemán como el “mexicano”. Y con libros muy gruesos, me tardo millones de años, así que en alemán las lecturas se vuelven más cortas, algo así como libros de menos de 250 Páginas, con algunas excepciones, por ejemplo Harmonia Caelestis de Esterhazy , o  Vertrauen und Gewalt de Jan Philipp Reemtsma, o Stalingrad de Beevor.

Con Esterhazy siempre topo con pared. Cuando leo las criticas que escriben sobre sus libros en el Die Zeit, se me hace agua la boca, los argumentos normalmente son su increible manejo del idioma, su despanpanente humor y su enorme conocimiento en general. Y en mi caso cada dos de tres pierdo. Por más que me caiga muy bien, este aristocrata venido a escritor, cuando le leo en alemán siempre tengo la sensación de estarme perdiendo la mejor parte. El principio de Incertidumbre de Heisenberg, lo puedo aplicar durante mi lectura de cualquier libro de Esterhazy: o lo entiendo o me rio o aprendo. Pero nunca más de una.

En caso de Harmonia Caelestis, aprendí, en el de Eine Frau (Una mujer), reí ; y en el de die Markus-Version tambien reí. Pero entonces para mí Esterhzy se ha estado conviertodo en escritor de anecdotas divertidas, lo cual es muy triste.

Sin embargo, cada vez lo intento una y otra vez, y no quiero darme por vencido y leerlo en Español.

 

Péter Esterházy und sein Buch 'Die Markus-Version'