Cristian Fernandez Ocampo

Inner Life

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Installation view 01_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 01_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 02_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 02_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 03_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 03_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 04_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 04_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 05_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
Installation view 05_Cristián Fernández Ocampo_"Inner life"
"Greener"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Greener"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Map"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Map"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Mango bees"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Mango bees"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Clear sky"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Clear sky"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Lamps"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
"Lamps"_Cristián Fernández Ocampo
Cristián Fernández Ocampo produces work that experiments with the interactive materiality of painting. His minimalist, abstract studies exchange the directness of vast colour palettes with a more subtle approach to tonality, allowing the physical properties of the work to activate the viewer's perception of light and depth. His series of lamp paintings illustrate this neatly, the glow of the environments somehow rich and vibrant despite their relative darkness. Straight lines confine bold blocks of deep reds and near blacks, occasionally branching out into alternative hues that become particularly striking in the context of the series—a vast, sanguine environment that is at once both calming, and Lynchian. These specific paintings offer an insight into the way Cristián paints, from a conceptual point of view. Rather than focusing on these objects simplistically, they exist as vehicles to communicate a deeper message—a lamp represents light, but it's not the light of the lamp that draws our focus, it's the light of the physical object in front of us, the glow that is settled within the painting. Outside of this range of works the object is removed completely, bringing us further towards an understanding of what the artist is conjuring as he paints. These paintings are purer expressions of visual energy, metaphysical environments in their own right, on a direct lineage from Rothko's minimalist masterpieces. The experimental process visualises the aleatoric approach to composition explored by Brian Eno, John Cage and similar figures within contemporary music, from which Cristián derives inspiration. Like them, and echoing this procedure of creating music, the decisions he makes are complemented by the ones that he does not, and the results of this can be seen –and felt– in the chaos and freedom of the molecular detail that a decisive human hand and mind could never accomplish alone. In employing the whole canvas in more or less the same level of tonal intensity, Cristián’s paintings are bold, strong statements that contrast with the stark whiteness of the traditional gallery space. This is especially apparent in the large format abstract works but –returning to the lamp paintings momentarily– the same refusal to apply a hierarchy of detail exists even within his more representative work. In these the foreground and background are given equal importance; positive and negative space are harmonised and democratised. Cristián says that his paintings "articulate illusion". Within this statement one can unpick other aspects of his process which travel on a convergence of movement and stillness. Some works, to share an example, contain a record of gravitational forces, where paint is applied to one end of the canvas and allowed to move along and through its surface, the nature of such movement evolving as it dries, and as more of it becomes absorbed. To achieve the effect he does Cristián mixes oil paint with sand, dry pigment, marble dust, bleach and other unconventional materials. It's satisfying to consider how there is here a methodology that exploits the physical to elevate the work to the ethereal, truly a creation of something that is more than the sum of its parts. It mirrors an aspect of the work identified by the artist as "a meeting of the body and the brain”. The interaction of these elements plays out on the surface of the canvas, often in unpredictable ways, engaging the artist with the artwork in an alchemical exchange. The nature of the materials almost taking responsibility for part of the creative process themselves further pushes the idea that this work is more about what lies within, what appears with time and close inspection, than what is discovered on that first, flippant glance.
Daniel Mackenzie

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