"Beyond reflection", 1998

Vicente Jarque.1998

There is a form of reflection which does not lengthen up to theory, but crystallises and becomes work. The Greeks named it poíesis, and we might recognise there, rather than in the field of old techné, the origin of what we keep calling art. In fact, present artist, who are made to load on their shoulders the weight of that self-conscience brought by modernity, and with the inherited engagement of the universe of the avant-garde, have managed to learn to move in the limits of reflection with an unexpected ease -not with strictness.
Nevertheless, Àlex Nogué has reflected, actually, but has not only done that. He knows that art is not so much a matter of communication of thoughts, as rather the fact of laying certain -or uncertain- experiences at publics disposal. Such experiences cannot be achieved unless it is trough a concrete work, that is, by means of the physical materialisation of countless reflections which are not always expressed, associated feelings, elusive hints, gestures, operations which are virtually unlikely to be identified and which, on the other hand, gain new meanings, not only in the process of the making of work, itself, but also, obviously, when it contacts the different spectators.
That might be the process Àlex Nogué referred to when he mentioned the noun reversion. That word alludes to a kind of return from a former a state, at the same time, though, to a transformation of sense. He calls on a change in both the way of being and the way of performing. And it is such ambiguity what takes us back to face our problem: the need the artist feels to play his game, to unfold his experience between reflection and action, between speech and product, between immaterial word and physical object.


What interests us most at its particular moment, though, is to suggest something further on the way Àlex Nogué has been approaching this subject. You might say that his most notable wroth has been the one of finding, in each case, the point, the suitable time to interrupt the course of reflection; that is precisely how he made it productive. What I mean is he has a capacity for introducing elements or turns, based on which he tends to questioning the inescapable intellectual device which, otherwise, might succeed in catching the work.
Such a fact is already made obvious in his first confrontations with the world of nature; the clearly conceptual trend did not prevent him from inserting "sentimental" or perhaps autobiographic reasons. Now I am thinking about those funny photographs which subject is "The artist and the Sheep" where Àlex Nogué appears at times with a touch of sadness, others with a wide smile, just like a shepherd who, during the holidays, approaches his herd: nature, and does not understand it -or not only- like a "landscape" but like a complex field of experiences where one must abide and go across and understand through the help of all available feelings and even a few more.
One recognises a similar attitude in his "Carts", which he has been making since the nineties. They are sculptures which are in a certain way related to landscape, they are objects showing an immanent meaning which directly derives from the long tradition of contemporary art, but they are, as well, the crystallisation of an experience that the artist himself usually senses a posteriori (and "a times extremely a posterori" he states) and that does have not to do with one's own dim past, that keeps unexpectedly coming back.
If Carts carried stuff (wood, dead nature, "landscapes"), "The house and the clouds" (1995) took us at the right place to lay them, and to lay ourselves safely. As the house shelters while clouds menace. The "house" by Àlex Nogué, yet, was shown as a no-entry field, not only because of the natural threat, but even for the human being, so that the “concept" of house lay virtually closed on becoming "work" (of art). But, then, the question would become as follows: will the artist have to go back to "his" sheep and share the heartless exposure of nature?


This exhibition can be understood as an attempt to answer that question. Its origins may be linked to those old worries on landscape. In fact, we find a reading table for the first time in Àlex Nogué's work in a recent item, called "building period", where a noisy cement mixer found in the country, in a building site, unexpectedly accompanies the spectator while he is at work hypothetically, consulting a book a medicine.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the table is ready": the titles looks somehow confusing. Here, it is not so much question of sitting down to have a meal. But rather, once again, to start thinking: the spectator is invited and, sometimes, in a very clear and even emphatic way to use the exhibition hall as a space for work, for reflection and for an exchange of experiences. The artists asks you to be calm, to pay attention, even to keep a close concentration on each of the proposed situations: a wheel-table which measurements are those of a grave; a table next to an empty wall; another which does not seem to have found his place; and some others equipped with "electric light table" and drawing books. That might make us think of the installations by Armajani or Kavakov. But in Àlex Nogué's there is a dominating austerity which outlines it, because it gives up any spectacular hint.

That is the way: again, we come to find the above mentioned strategy: the ever present reflection must be interrupted. Àlex Nogué does that by letting himself be led by what he calls "a certain fidelity to the unconscious", that is to say, to the hidden source of any experience. But he does that by fixing it in both, the shape of a poíesis object. And as a poetic one, in the relative sense of an unwritten poem. As far as the spectator is concerned, he also can and will have to reflect, but that will happen in the context of a surrounding serenity where his thoughts will not be able to arise in an abstract way, but only in connection within his own life. Actually, what the artist asks everybody is but an exercise on one's memory.

Vicente Jarque

Catalogue of the exhibition’ exposition,
Ladies and gentleman, the table is ready.
Espais Association. Contemporary Art's Center.
Girona. (Spain) 1998