Los Territorios Sonados
26th April - 25th May
Text by KARIN OHLENSCHLÄGER
The Dreamed Territories
Light, the raw material of the work of Carlos Coronas, comes out in his early work from the late 1980s: first in painting, then in sculptural volumes, and finally in luminescent bodies and immersive installations. In fact, over the past three decades, his creations have evolved from a two-dimensional plane on canvas to the three-dimensional shapes of his spatial interventions.
Faithful to the challenges offered by his own work at each moment, his abstract luminous planes on canvas arise from an investigation of the impact of light on chromatic surfaces. In the mid-1990s, he explored in depth the concept of "expanded" paintings, which invade and run outside of the framed canvas. Later he decomposed the frame and opened up its rectangular limits; he removed the canvas and fostered letting ambient light itself paint its subtle shadow-scapes directly on the wall.
In the early years of the 21st century, the open configurations of these "paintings" became increasingly ephemeral and immaterial. As of Winterreise (Winter Travels, 2002), which consists of the open configuration of semi circles made of wood and neon lights, the frame yields once and for all to artificial light, and framed paintings are no longer seen in the work of Coronas.
In their place, constructions of neon lights appear forming bodies, architectures and urban landscapes, luminous and seductive. As of installations like Luz de límite(2005), interventions with neon lights, done in interiors and exteriors, challenge darkness and impose their colourful brilliance. Their luminescence invades space, interacts with the environment, and transforms its perception.
Coronas’ light constructions become ephemeral and changeable architectures. Although the exhibition of his work is composed of elements which are structurally invariable, the changing intensities of light and the fact that the observer is immersed in their irradiation, contributes to making perception prevail over the construction.
This appreciation introduces the experience of variability of the space which is not defined solely by architectural characteristics. Rather, it is conceived as a systemic environment, in which structures, materials and luminescence converge. The movement of the observer creates constant change in relation to all the elements.
In works such as Sin lugar/Nowhere (2007), the artist explores the concept of the beauty of light as a perverse instrument in a consumer, entertainment-based society. The structure of this work resonates with the omnipresent of advertising that generates its own architectures of attention and communication. Its weapon of using light seduction corresponds to the same patterns with which fireflies court their potential mates.
Delving deeper into the poetic and metaphoric resonances of light as a code of communication, Coronas’ work begins to relate the nocturnal light language of urban centres, with that of luminescent fauna living in wooded wetlands. Thus, in the series titled Lampyridae (2011/18), the artist replaces neon lights with colour fluorescents, with which he builds large-scale polygonal structures which inhabit the exhibition space. Some shapes are flying, others climbing, crawling or rising up. Altogether, they transmit a sensation of movement which is reinforced by the fact that the intensity of the light is modified subtly and continuously.
It is as though the artificial bodies of the Coleoptera polyphaga are animated. The artist achieves this sensation by programming the light potency of the fluorescent tubes in such a way that the work changes at the pace of breathing. The variability of its intensity influences our perception of space. The apparently solid walls of the room are transformed by the subtle pace of the respiration. Everything shifts and this movement generates the sensation of life.
Along with the luminous structures of the giant fireflies, the guts of their bodies, made up of cables and connections, take on a greater role. Their chaotic tangle seems to be alive. The projection of their shadows keeps in motion with the change in the light, as if they were the neuron connections of an agitated brain.
At the edges of reason and emotion, associations between the micro and macro scales are confused. Reality becomes plural and the system of animated lights and bodies suggests possibilities more than certainties. The position of the observer facing this enveloping installation takes on increasing importance. One does not merely contemplate the work. One explores and experiences it. In this process, the perception of the observer becomes as significant as the artist's own creation. Conception and perception are connected in the imaginations of artist and observer, as well as variability and immutability; certainty and uncertainty.
In Territorios Soñados (2016/18), the fluorescent structures become territories to be transited. Luminescent ecosystems, apparently weightless, envelop the visitor. Given the presence of the work, the exhibit space seems to become enfolded. Its volume is modulated and its structure is transformed with each change in the intensity of the light.
The current version of the installation and the new drawings in the series titled Territorios Soñados, have special resonance with Malta. The fact is that the island has been a strategic enclave for many cultures throughout its long history. Its lands have hosted some of the great cultural legacies of humanity, from the megalithic temples of Ggantija, Hagar Qim and Mnadjra, some over 7500 years old, to the walled city of La Valletta. Today, this archipelago comprises one of the main centres of migratory stopovers and an entrance gate to Europe; they receive but do not hold.
Metaphorically speaking, the Territorios Soñados (Dreamed Territories) by Coronas lack solid ground. Instead, they seem like luminous contours, floating islands that connect with each individual’s feelings and perception. Fertile and inhabitable lands for one's own dreams. Their volumes form open shapes that receive each visitor’s imagination, willing to nourish and be nourished by the dreams of others.
If science removed the symbolic aura of light and electricity provided autonomous light sources able to rationalize space, then artists like Carlos Coronas reconcile reason and emotion once again. His creations bring together sciences, technologies and humanities, in the sensation of shared feelings and dreams.
Director of LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación
Carlos Coronas was born in Avilés, Spain in 1964. He took a degree in Fine Arts at Salamanca University, northwestern Spain. He combines his creative practice with a pedagogical work at the Asturias’ School of Arts. He has made numerous exhibitions, both individual and collective and has taken part at events such as Asturias Fine Arts Museum, Oviedo, Spain, It’s simply Beautiful at Laboral Art Centre, Gijón, Spain, Seoul Media Art Biennale in South Korea, Biennale Cuvée in Linz, Austria, Centro Cultural Internacional Óscar Niemeyer, Spain.