An exhibition by Alexandre Farto AKA Vhils
Fractal, first solo exhibition by Portuguese visual artist Alexandre Farto aka Vhils in Spain, in which converges a diversity of historical and geographical contexts, intertwined with burning contemporary ideas and preoccupations.
“Vhils is a Portuguese artist who constantly inno-vates with new techniques and approaches to his art. Much of his work is created in situ and focuses on the transitory nature of the city, its history, and the lives of its inhabitants.”
Tristan Manco, in The Guardian
Revealing a wide range of pieces, some of which have been created using new mediums and techniques developed over the last two years – in the midst of a world taken hostage by fear and uncertainty – it is the product of profound introspection and perhaps one of the few advantages to surface from the abrupt interference of recent events: time. Time to think, to experiment, to interpret, to create.
Among these works emerges the use of a completely new material by the artist, immersed in tradition and historical significance: a series of tile panels that represent a clear nod to a shared cultural heritage between neighbouring countries, and the specific legacy of Lisbon-based tile-making, which traces its origin precisely to the city of Seville, over five centuries ago.
Yet, while the materiality of this exhibition celebrates the proximity, connection and relationship between two nations, its themes reflect the tempestuous and conflicting sense of angst that has engulfed our individual and collective psyche. As the name itself suggests, “Fractal” (from the Latin frāctus, meaning broken or fractured, appropriated mathematically to designate fractional dimensions and geometric patterns in nature), begins with an allusion to the linear nature of time and history, and ends with a profoundly divergent understanding of the present.
These pieces possess a uniquely energetic intensity that tears apart our pre-conceptions of humanity as a whole, as well as our individual understanding of self. Like the installation obtrusively cut into the structural gallery wall, they carve an unavoidable fissure that forces us to re-examine the human condition, which now, more than ever, is in dire need of transformation.
Thought-provoking and riddled with contrast, “Fractal” intersects the tangible memory of history with the diluted volatility of our current reality. Weaving convention with the disruptive force of contemporary intervention, it shatters the solace provided by a consensual understanding of the past with the anxiety provoked by the uncertainty of the future.
The exhibition forces us to surrender our self-perception, look within and create a new sense of identity and truth: a process embodied by the torn derelict sheets of the billboard pieces, or the piercing transparency of the epoxy resin works, with their superimpositions of three-dimensional assemblages cutting through our layers of simulated bravado and false security.
By questioning linearity, with “Fractal” Vhils creates a deconstruction that can be acutely uncomfortable. However, it is also an act of creation, a carving out of space: for difference, for novelty, for evolution. A direct confrontation with who we are, and, more importantly, with who we are about to become.