“Where the path becomes a line”: Pablo Armesto, the light alchemist

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 Paul Klee said that a plastic artist does not reproduce the visible but “makes visible” what others don’t see (and it wasn’t by chance he was a musician). In this case, Pablo Armesto (born in 1970 in the Swiss city of Schaffhausen, where his parents had emigrated, although he lives and works between Asturias and Madrid) brings to the Marlborough Gallery more than twenty pieces in which the fundamental element, like in all his artistic work, are lines, space and light. Allegories to what hides, or what is not seen, by an artist that could be a light alchemist. An ode to the visible that sustains the world, thanks to led systems and optic fibers combined with lacquered metals. They are “energy metaphors (light), pureness (essence), art (life)”, as he says, threads of light and shadows, agile geometries in continuous mutations “where the path becomes a line”, honoring the title of his fourth individual exposition, open until the 17th of April.

And maybe that line “becomes a layer, a layer that becomes another layer and then it becomes a volume, a perfect geometry of light”, like it expressed by the author; “pure geometry” that connects with the tradition initiated by Kandinsky in the texts of Point and line to plane: contribution to the analysis of pictorial elements and derives in those space, plane-line, plane volume. 

His pieces are a hybrid between sculptures and installations in which he incorporates, through the most avant-garde technology, the time factor. Like in two of them, where he makes a point of light walk and it ends up becoming a line which its path is never repeated, evolving in total silence in front of the viewer. Some emerge from a central beam of light formed by lines and others from an empty central circle where they converge, filling the room and creating a feeling that they are palpitating. The light points that in movement transform into lines, construct rhythmic volumes that because of energetic vibrations overcome the space that contain them. Starting from a central ensemble they disperse to the frame that delimits them, wanting to overcome and transcend it. In the flickering of light, the round central form, yield of the sum of the lines, evokes the world´s shape. Like the piece “Sphere in progress”, a “divertive installation” that is inside a space projecting a light that never repeats thanks to an algorithm: it emerges, it keeps on completing, it does not totally disappear. It is alive, by intensity, because of time, revolving constantly…”The sphere is the metaphor of a planet, of a sun or of something that is alive as well, or of an atom, since you are then scaling with scales that we don’t see….. And that is pure energy at the end”, explains Armesto.

“The lecture of the optic fiber represents the metaphor of the bond which unites us”

Like if I talked of our era, of communication, of connectivity, Armesto addresses in his work the material, the energy, the dynamism, the life that palpitates and mutates in apparent discreet silence, in a distilled quietude of geometric poetry. This is because the presence of optic fiber in the work of the Asturian artist also has a symbolic dimension. If in the networks data travels, his works link the tangible to the intangible. “The lecture of the fiber optic is the material that relates us to the XX and XXI Century and represents the metaphor of the bond which unites us”, he says. “I do not want to be color, only optic fiber”, he affirms. Because maybe that is his “non-color palette”, the light and the darkness and how both project, how the fiber contrasts. Light over white, light over grey and light over black (although they are named Nova 348, Nova Grey and Nova 271 black, named on the quantity of fibers used for each piece) it is a continuous dialogue from one to another.

“This piece has 797 lines”, he explains whilst looking at one of them, and that is how it is shown. Almost 1.600 holes to insert the optic fiber in which he transmits odes of light. It is a piece that inmotizes. He says that he breaks the optic fiber calculating the light flow that emanates from each of them and compares it to a hose: “you poke it and water emerges”. He discovered he could create this thanks to an error when he was making an installation of a human genome for an exhibit in Germany and he “pinched” one of the fibers. “So this exhibit comes from an incorrect use of the fiber”, he ironizes.

 A sparkling vibration that mutes in silence

In other pieces a kinetic effect is produced when that who observes the piece moves around the room, accentuating the sensation of dynamism. In that dazzling analogue universe, new possibilities emerge of light paths every time the spectator activates it, offering a kaleidoscopic and polysemic result. The concentric tension of each of the installations and the magnetic field which surrounds each sculpture of light appears to contain the sparkling vibration that mutes in silence. Although unnoticeable, the interior sounds of the point and plan, appear to clash one with another, they intermingle and are dismissed in a reciprocate rebound. So what would the world sound like from outside? The pieces of Pablo Armesto appear to sound like mutant energy, to palpitating flow, to vibrant activity, to continuous transformation… 

His work in the last years has revolved around science and its esthetic possibilities, to fractal, to processes, in a reflection of the Universe´s macro and micro, unreachable to the human eye. Light sculptures that could resemble stellar explosions, ice crystals, quarks or mandalas. Like Alfonso de la Torre points out, author of the catalogue text: “There, in those light condensations, briefs of the appearance and disappearance, in this circle than when enlarged hold a center inhabited by leaks, is where resides the resilient chant of an artist which wants to devote to silence, a poetic meditation shifted to the limit where Armesto awaits for a miracle to be possible”.  

And if I get closer and blow? 

I see imagery formations of Asteraceans like the lion tooth, or luminous fractal specimens…And if I get closer and blow, what happens; would it be a portal to the parallel Universe? Maybe for a moment I can detach what wraps my bones, dematerialize and travel at light speed. To the unison, become a tightrope walker and balance in a rope held high up, pursuing an equilibrium difficult to reach. Yes, in those worlds of points and lines I will want to refuge and transit, even if just for a moment… I know they would say it is impossible to live with such tension, subjected to opposite forces, between light and darkness… jumping from the dynamic to the static. Vibrating… still with shakiness, fade. But who does not try to be an equilibrist in this world… My guide will be the sound of light. And there, wrapped, maybe I will know why they say we are ancient star scraps. Points that become lines, dimensional travels, astral dust…. “Incandescent vibration, palpitating energy of a time, that like Baudrillard say – and so Torre remembers- could bring hope to the limitless, elevating the possibility of the transcendent”

Photography: Óscar Rivilla

Music: Electrophorus

Translation: Covadonga López-Fanjul

Art Direction: Óscar Rivilla and Carolina Verd


Principal picture and picture 2: black dress by Ernesto Naranjo

Picture 3: black dress by Fraile

Picture 4 and 5: black dress by Fraile