ABOUT THE ARTIST
The Sky in a Ditch
A disturbing contradiction hovers about the space. On the one hand, the chapel-like format of the gallery, a format historically associated with a religious experience of inwardness and worship; and on the other the restless atmosphere that besets the images that occupy it. Some sort of powerful movement seems to have upset all of these paintings and not even the tradition of peacefulness of a space like this one seems capable of putting everything back in place. Nonetheless, some of the paintings incite a strange sense of stillness, one overly akin to the feeling that sets in after a catastrophe, when all motion becomes slight. Could there be a before and an after here? What are the reasons for the estrangement produced by Agustín Sirai’s paintings? How to make sense of the counterpoint between the sense of woe and of restfulness that binds them? The artist provides the scenes of a suspended story and lets the viewer arrange them as he fancies in something like a “make up your own story.” He uses painting—a practice with such a long history, century-old codes as well as ones that he develops for the occasion—to leave a few hints and a mystery to be unraveled. His painting is color and line, but perhaps more line than color because it is tenaciously light. And the pictorial elements he uses partake of calligraphy as well because akin to our current mode of looking. If for millennium painting was a system of representation that made it possible to order the appearance of the real and to construct religious, heroic or literary narratives, what is its function in this secular present vexed by the consequences of consumerism and the reign of technology? Is it, perhaps, to generate moments of reflection? What Agustín Sirai articulates in this space relentlessly says that it is. His landscapes—desolate islands that float in the midst of nothingness—speak to us of a fragmented and uprooted world, where the human condition would seem on the way to extinction and catastrophe is either imminent or consummated. “Science has become the arsenal of major accidents, the great catastrophe factory,” wrote Paul Virilio. Each new scientific production is, according to the French philosopher, also innately and by its very nature the invention of a new accident. Is that why Sirai transcribes nature in meticulous notation that painstakingly frames it as a way to freeze it in an ideal space? Freeze nature and time, removing them from the fleetingness of the accident. That is what Agustín Sirai would seem to have attempted in the 100 Días [100 Days] project that preceded this exhibition and whose production was registered on his blog daily. There is nothing more photographed than that which is at risk of disappearance, wrote Régis Debray. The extremely subtle tension that runs through Sirai’s work is connected to the perception of this risk in a world where cataclysm is always possible and the sky is no longer reflected in a ditch but, rather, often collapses into it.
Ana María Battistozzi
Buenos Aires, May 2011
Agustín Sirai was born in La Plata, Argentina on December 22, 1978. He has a degree in Visual Arts from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP). Solo Exhibitions: "Lugares Comunes", Agustín Sirai / Hernán Salvo, Schlifka-Molina, Buenos Aires, July2014. "El último cigarrillo eterno", Praxis, Buenos Aires, March 2014. “El cielo en un pozo”, Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, May 2011. “Vivir Mil Años”, Jardín Oculto, Buenos Aires, April / May 2010. "Fuego Amigo", Teatro Argentino de La Plata, Buenos Aires, 2011. "256 colores", Centro Cultural Islas Malvinas, Buenos Aires, 2000. Group Exhibitions: "Do you see the picture?", Praxis, New York, 2014. “Beca EcuNHi-FNA 2010”, Argentine Embassy in Berlin, 2013. "Series perdidas", Schlifka-Molina, Buenos Aires, 2012. "Micromundis", Centro Cultural Casona de los Olivera, Buenos Aires, 2012. "¿Cuánto dura una imagen?", Pasaje de la Reforma, Edificio Presidencia, UNLP, Buenos Aires, 2012. "Instantánea", Museo de Arte Contemporáneo La Plata (MACLA), Buenos Aires, 2011. “Beca EcuNHi-FNA 2010”, Argentine Embassy in Paris, 2011. “Proyecto Circular II”, Palais de Glace, Buenos Aires, 2010. Galería Jardín Oculto, Buenos Aires, December 2009. Show for the 50th Anniversary of the Museo Municipal de Arte (MUMART), Buenos Aires, 2009. Galería Jardín Oculto, Buenos Aires, May 2009. “Museo Abierto”, selection of works in the permanent collection, MUMART, Buenos Aires, March 2009. “Personajes de autor”, Centro Cultural Recoleta, BuenosAires, May 2008. “Cruce de Miradas”, show of works in the collection of the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, Instituto Cultural de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, 2008. “Ejercicio plástico, ejercicio ético”, MUMART, Buenos Aires, July 2008. Awards and Distinctions: Winner of the Concurso Nacional de Igualdad Cultural, Artes Visuales, Buenos Aires, 2013. Mention, Gran Premio Banco Provincia, 200 Años La Moneda (drawing), Buenos Aires, 2013. Special Mention, IV Salóndel Consejo Provincial de Agrimensura de Buenos Aires, 2013. 3rd Prize, "7º Premio Nacional de Pintura Universidad Nacional de la Empresa” Buenos Aires, 2012 Honorable Mention, Instituto Cultural de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Salón Molina Campos, 2012. 1st PurchasePrize, V Premio Nacional de Pintura Banco Central, Buenos Aires, 2011. Honorable Mention, Premio Estímulo Banco Provincia, Buenos Aires, 2011. Special Mention, II Salón del Consejo Provincial de Agrimensura de Buenos Aires, MUMART, 2011. 2nd PurchasePrize, Salón de Artes Visuales de la Empresa Distribuidora de Energía La Plata Sociedad Anónima (EDELAP), Buenos Aires, 2009. 2nd Purchase Prize, “Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires” (painting), 2009. 1st Purchase Prize, Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas (painting), MUMART, Buenos Aires, 2008. Jury’s Special Mention, Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas (painting), MUMART, Buenos Aires, 2007 1st Purchase Prize, Salón Provincial de Arte Joven (drawing), Museo Provincial de BellasArtes, Buenos Aires, 2006. Jury’s Special Mention, Salón de Arte Joven (drawing), Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, 2001. Jury’s Special Mention, Salón de Arte Joven (painting), Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, 2000. Tecnópolis, large-scale painting for the Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación, Buenos Aires, 2013. Concurso Nacional de Igualdad Cultural, Buenos Aires, 2013. Selected for the Salón Nacional de Pintura, Banco de la Nación Argentina, Buenos Aires, 2012. Selected for the Premio Itaú de Artes Visuales, Buenos Aires, 2011. Selected for the Premio Itaú de Artes Visuales, Buenos Aires, 2012. Selected for the Premio Klemm, Buenos Aires, 2011. Selected for the Premio Klemm, Buenos Aires, 2012. EcuNHi-Fondo Nacional de la Artes Fellowship, Buenos Aires, 2010.