Chema Alvargonzalez, Mehr Licht

Olga Sureda


“Maleta Ventana de Luz” / 2002 suitcases, light system, mirror and duratrans / 18 x 31 x 6 in / 31 x 17 x 6 in / 15 x 28 x 6 in / Courtesy: Galeria Maior

Near the moment of his death, according to several accounts, Germany’s greatest literary thinker, Johann Wolfgang Goethe looked through the window of his Weimar house and, wanting another shutter opened to the morning sun, called to a servant for “more light!” Then with his fingers, he traced a word on the air as he shifted in his chair. He fell asleep after, dying at some moment well before anyone realized. Taking the title from Goethe’s last words Mehr Licht (More Light), the contemporary art center Arts Santa Monica (Barcelona) presents the first retrospective of the artist Chema Alvargonzalez, a distinguished multidisciplinary artist who lived and worked halfway between Barcelona and Berlin.

The curator proposes a metaphor: Chema’s works are pre- sented as a light blast that enters through the window of his room in Berlin. From Chema’s view, this light represents a trip through her (the light), where light is energy, a source of knowledge and a marker of the passage of time in the artist’s imagination.

The exhibition is presented in a diaphanous space – an empty space that evokes the absence of the artist – with an open but not induced tour, inciting the spectator to stroll into the exhibition with a scouting eye. Beyond its symbolic aspect, this space also has a functional aspect: to block the retina of the visitor in order to perceive it in strict darkness. The works are distinguished individually, de-contextualized, and radiating their own light. As a whole, they appear as points of light, forming a constellation illuminated and indicated in neon.

The city and the architecture are raised as mirrors of human aspirations, the urban issue acquires its own poetics between the real and phantasmagoria in the photograph that overcomes the limits of the media to adopt almost pictorial qualities.

L-R: 1. “Invisible” / 2006 / Courtesy: Memoria Artística Chema Alvargonzalez / 2. “Largo Recorrido” / 1996 / Courtesy_ CAC Málaga. Ayuntamiento de Málaga / 3. ”Un Sueño De Ciudad. Milán I” / 2001 / Courtesy: Franco Marinotti / 4. “Assenza” / 2003 / Courtesy: Memoria Artística Chema Alvargonzalez

His installation with suitcases is understood as a metaphor of his continuous transformation, of the nomadic nature of his ideas. The light and the language not only in his meaning but also in his architectural form, as well as the sound, are different elements that interweave and mark the pace of the particular journey for the exhibition.

Windows that reveal an urban landscape or tunnels that take us to an unknown destination, the city for Chema Alvargonzález is like the forest in a fable, a strange place where the artist finds a multitude of unexplored readings, a dream that takes us from the semidarkness to the light, always hunting for mehr licht.

The light boxes of Alvargonzález have left behind the references to the memory to be oriented towards the unreality of the change and his processes; a sign of the identity of the artist. He was determined to portray the city in his process of transformation.

The trip, the absence, the traffic, the passage of time or the random were issues that the artist caught in his light windows: these old suitcases in whose interior was placed a mirror that reflected the illuminated photography of the clouds or of a few cliffs. These suitcases are a metaphor of the trip, whether real, fictitious or metaphysical.

Documentation of performance, by Chema Alvargonzalez at the Berlín Wall, 1989