Contemporary Art

Progresión Modular / Adriana Melchor Betancourt


Progresión modular

Por Adriana Melchor Betancourt

En gran medida, el trabajo de Quirarte+Ornelas investiga y experimenta sobre la representación y la materialidad de sus soportes. El dibujo y la pintura han sido salidas a exploraciones que parten tanto de la escultura como de la acción de los cuerpos. En las obras de este dúo, los objetos son trastocados a través de un ir y venir entre abstracción y figuración, en donde se oscila entre la bidimensión y la tridimensión.

Progresión modular es un proyecto que surge desde estos intereses atravesados por preguntas similares a: ¿cómo abstraer cada vez más el referente sin perder la evocación del mismo? ¿Puede el dibujo o la pintura vivir más allá de superficies bidimensionales? Asimismo, en las nociones de progresión y módulo encontramos una paradoja: ¿cómo algo que permanece constante, como es la idea del objeto, permite transmutar imágenes en estructuras y viceversa?

Paper Drawing 3, una de las piezas centrales de esta muestra, tiene como principal protagonista al papel. Esta obra es un dibujo que se vuelca en el espacio físico para producir una serie de intereses sumamente sugerentes. Estos módulos triangulares exploran sus formas desde distintas presencias vertidas en materiales sustancialmente opuestos. Aunque también en estas proyecciones encontramos evocaciones de ausencias. Objetos que han dejado indicios de su forma, de sus líneas y contornos; evidencias de un tipo de abstracción inmaterial.

Lejos de ser un mero ejercicio formal, el proceso artístico de Q+O es un estudio de largo aliento sobre las posibilidades de lo representado, entendido como algo que hacemos presente. En este sentido, se trata de intervenir estas diversas presencias para producir otras que puedan perturbar nuestras nociones de realidad.

Adriana Melchor

Against Attribution / Lukas Baden

Against Attribution

About the Common and the Shared in the Paintings and Objects of the Artist-duo Quirarte + Ornelas

Essay by Lukas Baden


Artworks that have been created by an artist collective quickly provoke the question of who contributed how much to the piece. The division of labor (which implies an anticipatory obedience to the possibility of establishing a clear attribution of efforts) seems to be of such central interest to our society that other interests such as aesthetics, are pushed to the back, even when contemplating works of art.

On the one hand I hear the claim, or at least the proposition, for transdisciplinary collaboration in all aspects of life, particularly in the academic and artistic community. On the other hand, knowledge about shared authorship causes a strange uneasiness. The undiscernible producer causes a discomfort of consumption. Where things are without frames or where effects cannot be clearly attributed to their origin or cause, they confuse human reasoning. Lately, with “Bildwissenschaft” and visual culture studies prominently on the rise, the academic debate has once again embraced the issue of the frame that divides subject from object. Is the supposed power of the object or image a question of agency of the thing or projection of the mind? The answer might entail an epistemic shift that threatens capitalist logic. With the help of some selected artworks, signed by the Mexican artist couple Anabel Quirarte and Jorge Ornelas, this text seeks to investigate the potential connection of collective authorship with the rhetoric of re-enchantment provoked by the “iconic turn”, the last great paradigm shift in the humanities.[1]

Quirarte + Ornelas consciously oppose the blurring of the boundaries between distinct subjectivities by means of a rigorously objective and outline-centered aesthetic. Brittleness, sobriety and virtuous naturalism lend to their pictures and objects an almost demonstrative essence.[2] Everything about their watercolors and small-scale sculptures is highly precise; they are the continuation of still life painting purged of its symbolic means.[3] Notwithstanding, the slickness of the drawings and the meticulousness of the sculptures cause suspicion.

Contradictions on all levels are what make the works of Quirarte + Ornelas interesting. First of all, their most recent production shows a deep concern for the problem of presentation and representation in the sense of a semiological[4] and phenomenological confrontation or differentiation. The result of which is the simultaneous and equivalent presentation of an item or thing as both object and drawing.

Second – and older works prove this as well – the artist duo is concerned about the conditions of possibility of common creation, i.e. the withdrawing of the individual for the benefit of agency of a third party. Their work raises questions about the reciprocity of (both in singular and plural) artist and artist, artist and artwork, artwork and viewer, artwork and artwork, as well as questions about the general framework of the processes that determine these mutual perceptions. Eventually, the positioning of the artist duo in the art world depends upon the functioning of these references.

Quirarte + Ornelas treat the issue of individuality (inseparability) of the person and of the object artistically via a highly naturalistic[5] way of painting. This technique, which seemingly affirms the concept of individuality, on the contrary exposes it as a construction and convention. On the one hand there is the approach to the object as an image-constituting element by maintaining an almost illusory objectivity in painting. On the other hand the depiction of the object shows it alienated from its conventional usage. Quirarte + Ornelas approach their objects from a constructivist perspective, which causes a distancing from the idea of an object as individual thing or tool.

At the same time, Quirarte + Ornelas’ extremely neat and meticulous way of painting creates a recognizable production scheme in the sense of an artistic style[6].  And yet the notion of style seems paradoxical here because Quirarte + Ornelas actually avoid personal traces or gestures, that is all the marks that are traditionally related to the individual character of the art work, and by doing so call their authority as artists and as individual and ingenious creators into question.

Although the artist-duo strives to invest as little affect as possible into the creation of their unspectacular assemblages, they cannot prevent a certain comical moment when those disinterestedly pleasing configurations tip over into unexpected contexts of recognizability. Evident examples are the carefully shaped paper balls, crossways perforated by pencils (fig. 1 and 2)[7], and the playful structural models made of geometrically shaped cardboard pieces and tubes (some parts of which are colored), which often find themselves in a precarious balance (fig. 3, 4 and 5).[8]

In the first case, all things indicate that failure got the work going, at least in an allegorical sense. It might even be the result of an idea rejected twice (crumpled and punctured). The second case presents us, metaphorically speaking, with the permutation of El Lissitzky’s sublime register of Prounes, which also leads to an unwitting recall of the ubiquitous kindergarden toy brick games of the German pedagogical pioneer Friedrich Froebel.

It seems that the sculptures and drawings, technically clear and thematically unexciting as they are, would want to mislead the viewer with respect to the oddness of the situation in which they are exhibited. I find this oddness in their similarity, their duplicity[9], their reciprocal hiding between Nominalism and Realism.[10]

What can be seen in the pictures is the observation of the object. Vice versa, it’s equally valid to claim to see the observation of the picture through the object. The reciprocal relationship of similarity cancels out any fixed order of observation. Visitors to the exhibition encounter the crumpled paper ball pierced with pencils simultaneously as crumpled paper ball pierced with pencils and as pencil on paper, that is, both in its presentation as object as well as in its representational form as a watercolored drawing. Is the starting point of this juxtaposition a moment of boredom, filled with playful thoughts or thoughts about the conditions of production? Idea, drawing, object, … How arbitrary is this order? How much can we flip a thought, how far can we turn thinking around forwards and backwards? Where, between abstraction and concretion, does figuration start? And how can this semiological or phenomenological problem turn into a question about the collective singular of an artistic duo?

Long before iconology instituted the first “turn” in art history, this hitherto young scientific discipline concentrated its energy on the attribution of certain artworks to single artists. The presupposition for the counting of folds and the separation of hands[11] was the idea of the individual originator, the genius, who, measured by the immanent and evident effect of his works, must have benefited from some sort of access to the transcendental realm. The talented author is a semi-secular notion of the divinely inspired creator. Authorship thus determined the paradigm of becoming of art or knowledge as produced by humans in the modern and high capitalist era. The “linguistic turn” however, put an end to this bourgeois projection. The subject turned to interface.[12] And yet the feeling remained that something had been overlooked. With the last and presumably reciprocal “iconic turn” the initial question was back: There must be some power to set it all in motion. So the “iconic turn” is an epistemological interpolation[13] for opaque relations of reciprocity.

Now, do we have to part from the modern program of individualism and revert to an old order where arcane laws determine universe and society? Or is there hope for aesthetic justice? How can we turn towards each other in mutual autonomy? Under what frame of conditions does our perception of the world work? Is freedom not – as freely adopted from Immanuel Kant – the liberty to impose a frame upon oneself?  Which view, which perspective would be possible without the assumed progression of point to line, plane to volume, time to causality?

Quirarte + Ornelas assume alternating viewing angles and show their work under perspectives which make themselves potentially disappear. First, there is the comparison of similar appearances as small-scale sculpture and watercolor drawing. Secondly there is the hyper-individual painterly gesture combined with an illusionistic technique of representation, exhausting the possibilities of a suspension of disbelief. Thirdly there is the separation and framing within the borders of the works on paper. All this shows the mutuality and contradiction of relationships of reciprocity. The representations of the small-scale sculptures are formally isolated on the picture plane – masked out, so to speak. The shadows that are cast appear latently obsolete or oblivious, and in later series they are completely absent. Maybe they are a subtle reminiscence of Plato’s concept of the idea featuring the allegory of the cave. The presence and absence of shadows is a play with grounds, in other words, a free formation of the foundation of things.  Once again in free adaptation of Immanuel Kant’s provocative concept of illustration, this might hint to man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity of imagination even beyond the confinement of artistic means, but always under the law of the medium.

The combinations of drawings and objects by the artist duo Quirarte + Ornelas discussed in this essay, are naturally self-referential. They center on the topics of what artists do and how they do it: drawing and its tools. At least in their most recent works they consistently short-circuit the means of observation with the observation itself.[14] This interlacing embraces the shared, that is, the common gaze of four eyes, as well as the artistic collaboration, that is, the work of two hands.  At the same time this interlacing intimately passes through a social pattern that we all yearn for: justification in reciprocity, happiness in the shared gaze and the common image.


[1] Keith Moxey. “Visual Studies and the Iconic Turn“. Journal of Visual Culture 7.2 (2008): 131–146.

[2] Quirarte + Ornelas works are close to those of Muntean/ Rosenblum and Los Carpinteros respectively both aesthetically as well as in their means of production; they avoid, however, the psychological as well as magical realism or the fantastic.

[3] “A realistic touch of still life painting as justification of a tradition of a clear day with a free horizon. Thence the cool, unrebellious, serious, the slick artificial, the objective reflective – painting as morally intellectual stage.”Axel Heil: “Anabel Quirarte & Jorge Ornelas.” In Leinzell OPEN 2006. Leinzell: Silvia und Helmut Wickleder Stiftung, 2006.

[4] Semiology, according to Charles S. Peirce, is based on the concepts of similarity (icon), trace (index) and convention (symbol). For a lucid and succinct explanation, see Beat Wyss: Vom Bild zum Kunstsystem (From the Picture to the Art System), Köln, Verlag Walther König, 2006, page 43-48.

[5] Quirarte + Ornelas themselves define their style or approach as “realistic” (Quirarte + Ornelas, “Estructuras Modulares”, 2013, en Proyectos, unpublished manuscript).

[6] The picture detail, the selection of objects and their compilation is of course equally important to the establishing of a “signature style”.

[7] Figures 1 and 2: Drawing Structure 2, 2012, watercolor on paper, 6 parts, 208 x 235 cm, and Drawing Structure 2, 2013, pencils and paper, dimensions variable.

[8] Figures 3,4 and 5: Extrapolación (Objetos), 2015, cardboard, plastic, metal, cotton, dimensions variable; Extrapolación 2, 2015, watercolor on Paper, 29 x 39 cm.

[9] With “duplicidad / duplicity”, Amanda De la Garza refers to Quirarte + Ornelas as two artistic subjects and the importance of affect in the process of creation and as image-effect. In my opinion, the productive tension of duplicity (or double existence) is less an effect of affect in the works of Q+O but a result of an intellectual game between object and (its) representation. Cf. Amanda de la Garza. “El Espacio de Lo Cotidiano. Arte-Colaboración En Pareja.” Revista Tierra Adentro, 2013, p. 40.

[10] Notwithstanding the high degree of illusionism in Q+O’s watercolors (which in fact constitute the major part of their works up to this day) I would appeal for an interpretation of their work that considers issues commonly attributed to concrete or conceptual art respectively. They are closer to the problem of universals or Joseph Kosuth’s One and three Chairs (1965) than to any other expression of contemporary naturalism.

[11] Mechthild Bellmann-Schöner. “Anfänge Der Niederländischen Tafelmalerei – Händescheidung/ The beginning of dutch painting – separation of hands”  Mai 2012., 10.07.2015. The logic that ruled this analysis of folds and strokes was capitalism: Once a painting could be assigned to a recognized creator, it achieved a higher price in the art market. Nevertheless, pre-modern painting was usually done collectively in workshops or anonymously anyway. Consequently, the 19th century’s yearning for an individually created medieval artwork is already an anachronistic and paradoxical projection, if not a compensation for the repressed individual contribution in early industrialization’s mechanized working processes.

[12]Gerhard Johann Lischka. Schnittstellen: Das Postmoderne Weltbild/ Interfaces: The postmodern world view; [Symposion Schnittstellen; Vortrag im Kunstmuseum Bern am 4. November 1994]. Bern: Benteli, 1997.

[13] Ariadna Ramonetti transfers the mathematical problem of interpolation in a function onto the area of geometric-concrete art (“Si llevamos esta idea al terreno de la geometría concreta ...“), and describes the work of Q+O as “volumetric exercises” (“ejercicios volumétricos”). According to Ramonetti, it is possible to state that Q+O apply some sort of tomographic procedure while drawing, filling the dimensions between the given extremes – point, line, plane, space, time/ presentation and representation. Ariadna Ramonetti: “Interpolación Lineal“. Curatorial statement to the exhibition Quirarte + Ornelas – Interpolación Lineal at Tiro al Blanco Gallery, Guadalajara, México, 2015.

[14] Q+O’s self description-technique is a result of the autonomy and differentiation defined by the art system. Their art works are autopoetic in the sense that they strictly refer to themselves and draw their energy from this self-referentiality. They fulfill their function as art by getting the process of communication going. Cf. Niklas Luhmann. Die Kunst Der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1995 (Art as social system, 2000).

Interpolación Lineal / Ariadna Ramonetti / 2015

Quirarte + Ornelas

Interpolación lineal


Toda forma pictórica se inicia con un punto que se pone en movimiento […] el punto se mueve […] y surge la línea –la primera dimensión-. Si la línea se transforma en un plano, conseguimos un elemento bidimensional. En el salto del plano al espacio, el impacto hace brotar el volumen (tridimensional […] un conjunto de energías cinéticas que cambian al punto en línea, a la línea en plano y el plano en una dimensión espacial.

Paul Klee, The Thinking Eye, 1961.

La interpolación lineal es un concepto matemático que consiste en hallar información dentro de un intervalo en el que conocemos los valores situados en los extremos del mismo. Si llevamos esta idea al terreno de la geometría concreta, podemos entenderla como una superposición de planos que nos remite a la manera en que estos se prolongan para producirse como un volumen que genera contornos; interrelaciones de formas y segmentos que se construyen como representaciones del espacio y del tiempo. Es en este sentido que interactúan algunas de las obras de Quirarte + Ornelas presentes en esta muestra: como una interpolación de módulos y estructuras creadas a partir de planos y líneas superpuestas que se refundan en ejercicios volumétricos variados (realizados en materiales como cartón y plásticos diversos), cuya conclusión vislumbramos cuando conocemos el proceso –de hecho, circular- que hay en el medio y que probablemente es el resultado más visible en términos de su producción como artistas. Me refiero al registro pictórico de lo geométrico, lo cual se convierte en plano, forma y color, en donde líneas ortogonales terminan siendo esos planos superpuestos que orbitan en los extremos de esa línea interpolar cuyo resultado conocemos pero que refieren también a un tipo de circularidad, a una especie de eterno retorno, espiral, cuya búsqueda es redundar en las diversas maneras de apropiarnos como espectadores de  objetos previamente construidos que son también representaciones pictórico-miméticas, que se asocian y se disocian simultáneamente para ocupar un espacio de exhibición el cual indaga sobre ciertas particularidades de la representación, y su ser-en-el-mundo. Como podemos observar en la serie Extrapolación- Estructuras complementarias.

René Descartes enunciaba que para probar la existencia y por ende la capacidad de producir pensamiento era ineludible situarnos en algún punto infinito, en dónde las coordenadas espacio y tiempo se imbricaran. Esta relación dialéctica como prueba de la existencia material de las cosas y los hombres fue la predominante en el imaginario matemático de Occidente durante la modernidad. El ser, el tiempo y sus posibilidades de enunciación,  ¿Necesitan ser representadas? Existen y podemos probarlo ¿Qué sucede cuando un objeto cotidiano (un lápiz, por ejemplo o un tubo de PVC) funda su existencia en sus condiciones de posibilidad de ser representado? ¿Qué significa la representación entonces para Quirarte + Ornelas?

Todas sus investigaciones formales son construcciones exhaustivas  de un proceso concatenado de posibilidades infinitas que un objeto despliega en el espacio y el tiempo; en donde la dicotomía posición-orientación son cuestionadas desde lo volumétrico para dirigirse a lo planimétrico y de ahí volver al punto de partida pero tal vez desde la experimentación con materiales cotidianos y fabricados serialmente que son cuestionados también en sus posibilidades para representar imaginarios concretos u abstractos que remiten a figuras básicas como el círculo o la línea, tal es el caso de las series, Estructuras modulares y Estructuras constructivas.

Redundar así, en posibilidades infinitas que emanan de rigurosos estudios formales los cuales buscan confrontar las posibilidades de representación de un objeto, convierten a Interpolación lineal en un cuerpo de trabajo unitario, en donde la investigación para Quirarte + Ornelas no cesa; en donde la construcción de lo cotidiano se percibe como una totalidad porque los objetos y su condición de posibilidad, se vuelven un mero pretexto para enunciar un proceso en donde la forma en sí, es el propio contenido e historia de esos objetos que se encuentran ahí, intersectando el espacio desde su multiplicidad simbólica y no desde su cualidad de existencia.



Q&O. Structures and Fragments / Andy St. Louis / 2012

Q&O. Structures and Fragments en One and J. Gallery.

Por Andy St. Louis

Publicado en Seoul Art Fiend

Marzo 6, 2012

(Find english bellow)


 “La función determina la forma”—Originalmentedicha en 1896 por el arquitecto Americano Louis Sullivan, esta breve, aliterada frase definiría el curso de la arquitectura y el diseño modernistas del siglo 20. A pesar de ser considerada poco más que un cliché vacío con limitadas aplicaciones contemporáneas entre los círculos creativos hoy en día, el mantra de Sullivan continúa manifestándose en el pensamiento grupal de la sociedad como un todo; su penetrante efecto ha influenciado fundamentalmente la manera en la que percibimos el mundo a nuestro alrededor y a hacer un sentido ordenado de él.

Anabel Quirarte y Jorge Ornelas son dos artistas que operan como una unidad creativa individual. Fiel al marco dialéctico que da forma a su producción, su trabajo invita a un contacto directo con el espectadory demuestra una facultad discursiva que corresponde a su manera de creación. “Structure and Fragments” en la galería One and J. presenta este proceso en su apoteosis, en la que incluso los más mundanos objetos –lápices, papel, tijeras, libros y cassettes- trascienden su valor aparente y reconfiguran las maneras convencionales en las que entendemos el mundo.

En sus acuarelas, óleos e instalaciones, el dúo de artistas mexicanos Quirarte + Ornelas basa su interpretación de los objetos en una experiencia visual directa, no adulterada. No sólo se abstienen de una aproximación funcional a los objetos à la Sullivan, evitan lecturas interpretativas por completo. Su relación con los objetos es una en la que la forma determina la función, un concepto de vuelta a lo básico casi siempre utilizado para atribuir significado a objetos que son desconcidos o ajenos  a nuestra sensibilidad. A pesar de esto, Quirarte + Ornelas se aproximan a los objetos que entienden más íntimamente- los lápices, las libretas y otras herramientas involucradas en el proceso de creación de arte que usan diariamente- con esta metodología. Aun que estos objetos estén cargados de banalidad, nos están libres de interpretación. De hecho, cuanto más ordinario el objeto, tanto más difícil resulta separar mentalmente sus cualidades físicas de las connotaciones que sugieren. Con el fin de cancelar efectivamente estas connotaciones y de aislar la imagen de un objeto de la idea correspondiente a él, Quirarte + Ornelas alteran físicamente su apariencia, manteniendo su naturaleza escencial como objetos identificables, reconfigurándolos ya sea como fragmentos o como estructuras.

“Structure and Fragments” no requiere levantamientos pesados, conceptualmente hablando, para los que no se inclinan por ello. Mucho de la exhibición es, de hecho, juguetón. Dada su temática -desde bolas de papel arrugadoy cassettes atravesados por lápices, hasta pilas de libros desordenadamente esparcidos hacia uno y otro lado, y cientos de astillas de lápices diseminadas en el piso- uno podría incluso decir que es una exhibición “caprichosa” (o al menos “peculiar”). Las pinturas se caracterizan por una manera casi insultantemente directa de representación (naturalista pero guardando suficiente distancia con el hiperrealismo), así como por una afinidad compositiva por aislar sus elementos en lienzos en blanco, eliminando todo rastro de la relación figura/fondo. Esta sensibilidad estética arroja luz sobre los fundamentos conceptuales de la propia exposición; aun que técnicamente bien ejecutadas, estas pinturas transmiten una objetividad independiente que las hace incapaces de conectar de manera significativa con el espectador por sí solas como imágenes. Su función como imágenes se deriva de su proceso de creación y no de sus resultados, desvaneciendo los límites entre la creación artística y el arte en sí mismo.

No resulta sorprendente el que las más simples de estas construcciones sean también las más llamativas visualmente. Utilizando nada más que lápices atravesando bolas de papel arrugado, Quirarte + Ornelas alcanzan la apoteosis de sus objetivos conceptuales en su serie Drawing Structure (2012). Aun que la simplicidad estructural de las construcciones permita al cerebro percibir la estructura de acuerdo a las partes que la componen, los esfuerzos por inferir un significado de su suma compuesta resultan frustrados. Este acertijo cognitivo funciona al revés en su serie Pencils (2011), en la que la “construcción” consta de astillas de lápices destrozados dispuestos al azar en una superficie plana, ofreciendo fragmentos presentados independientemente de su correspondiente unidad. Nuevamente, Quirarte + Ornelas descartan la función relativa de estas construcciones demandada por el cerebro e incitan a reevaluar lo que tácitamente asumimos acerca del significado, el contexto y la forma. La exhibición va más allá de sólo mirar; se trata de usar lo que vemos (en lugar de lo que sabemos) para establecer nuestras relaciones con los objetos. Una vez que los objetos en “Structure and Fragments” son reconfigurados en maneras que neutralizan su funcionalidad aceptada, pueden ser considerados bajo una nueva luz, independiente de interpretaciones exteriores. “La función determina la forma” de Sullivan es revelada sólo para permitir una muy limitada interpretación de los objetos, que se extiende sólo tan lejos como nuestras preconcebidas impresiones lo permitan. Cuando “la forma determina la función”, como Quirarte + Ornelasproponen en esta exhibición, las impresiones de lo que vemos son genuinas, no distorsionadas- objetos como objetos, y nada más.


Q&O. Structures and Fragments at One and J. Gallery.

Seoul Art Fiend

March 6th, 2012

By Andy St. Louis


Form follows function—Originally fashioned in 1896 by the American architect Louis Sullivan, this succinct, alliterative catchphrase would go on to define the course of 20th century modernist architecture and design. Although considered little more than an empty cliché with limited contemporary applications among today’s creative circles, Sullivan’s mantra nonetheless continues to manifest itself in the groupthink of society as a whole; its pervasive effects have fundamentally influenced how we perceive the world around us and make ordered sense of it.

Anabel Quirarte and Jorge Ornelas are two artists who operate as a single creative unit. True to the dialectical framework that informs its production, their work invites direct engagement with viewers and demonstrates a discursive faculty befitting its manner of creation. “Structures and Fragments” at One and J. Gallery presents this process at its apotheosis, in which even the most mundane objects—pencils, paper, scissors, books and cassette tapes—transcend their face value and perform a dressing-down of the conventional ways we comprehend the world.

In their watercolors, oils and installations, the Mexican artist duo Quirarte + Ornelas base their consideration of objects on direct and unadulterated visual experience. Not only do they refrain from a functionalist approach to objects à la Sullivan; they shun interpretive readings altogether. Their relationship with objects is one in which function follows form, a back-to-basics framework almost always used to ascribe meaning to objects that are unfamiliar or foreign to our sensibilities. In spite of this, Quirarte + Ornelas approach the very things they understand most intimately—the pencils, sketchbooks and other art-making tools they use day in and day out—with just such a methodology. Fraught with banality though these objects may be, they are not free of interpretation. Indeed, the more commonplace the object, the more difficult it is to mentally separate its physical attributes from the connotations they suggest. In order to effectively cancel out these connotations and isolate the image of an object from its corresponding idea, Quirarte + Ornelas physically alter its appearance while retaining its essential nature as identifiable objects, reconfiguring objects as either fragments or structures.

“Structures and Fragments” does not require conceptual heavy lifting for the disinclined, however. Much of the exhibition is, in fact, playful; given its subject matter—from balls of crumpled paper and cassette tapes spiked through with pencils, to piles of books haphazardly strewn this way and that, to hundred of pencil splinters scattered on the floor—one might even go so far as to call the exhibition “whimsical” (or at the very least, “quirky”). The paintings are characterized by an almost insultingly direct manner of representation (naturalistic but well short of hyperrealism) as well as a compositional affinity for isolating their subjects within otherwise blank canvases, eliminating all traces of the figure/ground relationship. This aesthetic sensibility sheds light on the conceptual underpinnings of exhibition itself; though technically well-executed, these paintings convey a detached objectivity that renders them unable to meaningfully connect with viewers on the basis of their images alone. Their agency as images derives from the process of their creation rather than its results, blurring the boundaries between art-making and art in its own right.

The simplest of these constructions, unsurprisingly, are also the most visually arresting. Using nothing more than pencils speared through balls of crumpled paper, Quiriarte + Ornelas reach the apotheosis of their conceptual aims in their Drawing Structure series (2012). Although structural simplicity of the constructions allowing the brain to perceive the structure according to its component parts, efforts to infer any meaning from their composite sum is stymied. This cognitive conundrum works in reverse in the artists’ Pencil series (2011). Here, the “construction” comprises splinters of shattered pencils arranged at random on a flat surface, offering fragments presented independently their correspondent whole. Again, Quiriarte + Ornelas dispatch with the relative agency demanded of these constructions by the brain and instigate a reevaluation of tacit assumptions about meaning, context and form.

The exhibition is about more than just looking; it is about using what we see (rather than what we know) to inform our relationships with objects. Once the objects in “Structures and Fragments” are reconfigured in ways that neutralize their accepted functionality, they can be considered in a new light—one independent of outsider interpretations. Sullivan’s “form follows function” is revealed to permit only a very narrow interpretation of most object, one which extends only as far as our preconceived impressions allow. When “function follows form,” as Quiriarte + Ornelas propose in this exhibition, the impressions of what we see are genuine and undistorted—objects as objects, and nothing more.


Anabel Quirarte und Jorge Ornelas / Axel Heil / 2005

Anabel Quirarte und Jorge Ornelas


18,5 Millionen. Anabel Quirarte und Jorge Ornelas leben und arbeiten in einer der größten Städte der Welt. Die Agglomeration Mexico City ist uferlos, unüberschaubar, ungerecht. San Salvador Atenco geht irgendwo bei Nanterre geht sie in die Vorstadt von Paris über, welches unmittelbar an Hongkong anschließt. Von dort fährt ein Bus nach Texcoco.

"Und wenn man nun erklärte, es gäbe besseres zu tun als das Harmlose, das Unaussprechliche, das Unschuldige, wenn es an der Zeit wäre, den Kampf der Symbole auszurufen.“ Das Domino, welches Présence Panchounette im schwülen Bordeaux der 70er Jahre begannen anzutreten, ist längst zum Iconoclash der ehemaligen Hochkulturen stilisiert. Das Harmlose ist ins verwegene Symbol gekippt. Die Käfige sinf winzig im Hinterhof der Kampfhähne. Folkloristische Elemente sind Koffer, Reisetaschen, Kaffeemaschinen, Toaster und Schrankwände. Es sind diese Objekte der Begierde, denen sich Quirarte/Ornelas seit einigen Jahren in ihren Bildern annehmen. Die ästhetische Spannung ergibt sich beim Betrachten aus der gleichartigen Darstellung des menschlichen Körpers der Benutzer und den unbelebten Oberflächen. Die rätselhaften Objekte des „daily pleasure of survival“ zwischen den Metropolen erhalten bei längerer Verweildauer der Betrachter einen enigmatischen Charakter, der nichts, aber auch rein gar nichts, über ihre eigentliche Bedeutung preisgibt. Die Posen der Akteure wirken seltsam ferngesteuert. Es geht heute ohnehin nur noch um Benutzeroberflächen. Die klassische Ladefläche des offenen Transporters auf dem Weg zum Flughafen.

Apathie sprengt die Genregrenze zum Stillleben, zu Traditionspartikeln. Tradition, selbst unverpflichtend und entnormierend aufgefasst, zielt auf eine gewissenhafte Setzung von „Kunst“ im Kunstwerk. Vorbei. Gestern, schon vorbei. Statische Requisiten als dynamische Verpflichtung. Durchlöcherung von Urteilen und Ansichten, die die stummen Zivilisationsbegleiter im aufnehmenden Bewusstsein des Betrachters auslösen. Die Behauptung, die Quirarte und Ornelas in ihren großformatigen Acrylplateaux aufstellen kann nicht übertrieben klar sein. Ein realistischer Touch Stilllebenmalerei als Traditionsbegründung eines klaren Tages mit freiem Horizont. Daher das coole, unrebellenhaft Seriöse, das glatt Affektierte, das sachlich Reflektierende – Malerei als moralisch intellektueller Stützpunkt. Kunst um der Kunst willen existiert nicht in der Wirklichkeit. Vorwärts durch den Nebel.

Axel Heil