In the garden
Monographic Exhibition by Jorge Dager
Jorge Dager is fascinated by fruits. It represents gigantic and splendid in its healthy aspect. It seems, they lack only the fragrance. His meticulous descriptivity caused some critics to see in them an expression of hyperrealism. And probably the early compositions of the young painter might suggest this judgment.
As the Art Dictionary explains, the name of Hyperrealism corresponds to the pictorial and sculptural movement, especially diffused in Great Britain and the United States from the end of the decade of 1960, in which the subjects are represented with a detailed precision of detail and impersonal. Superrealism and photographic realism are alternative denominations, and some artists who practice this style (…) work, in fact, from photographs, treating with equal acuity and precision of detail the whole picture (except when faithfully unfocused effects of photography are recorded ).
The works of Jorge Dager represent the well organized groups of tropical fruits, treated with a great realism; the same fruits that the artist knew and appreciated from his childhood, spent largely on a family farm Guariqueña; but also represent other fruit species, the less known, already in extinction.
These robust and appetizing oranges, milky, coconuts, caimitos and semerucos, sometimes seen very closely, or in a partial compositional cut, which exalts their excessive appearance, are represented in their rich and sensual materiality of textures; we can appreciate their smooth and shiny skin, or on the contrary, porous and slightly stained; some fruits appear open, to allow a curious look to penetrate its gelatinous internal parts, generously bathed by the light of the tropic. Undoubtedly, these images are realistic. But Dager’s early compositions, still timid, when compared with later ones, magnify these fruits, lending them a great dynamic vitality, together with a voluminous sensuality; features that can not characterize an impersonal objectivist description, which corresponds to hyperrealism. Moreover, over time, our painter is no longer enough to represent the magnified image of his fruit, as he did in his early works. By achieving a better mastery of the brush and the greater awareness of their own desires, he now intends to make them prisoners, but in such a way, that they could be seen. In this attempt, he first encloses them in the wooden drawers, which through their wide openings allow to see their immobilized and vulnerable contents. And a little later; it occurs to him to wrap the fruits in a transparent plastic; but this does not satisfy him either, and lately he already places them in the jars and in the glass pots; which separates them with their distorting transparency from the immediate contact with our eyes. That’s how I feel the most, “the painter laughs. I can see them, touch them with my brush, press them, and I know that they are here calm and safe. All these wrappings were not planned beforehand. Simply, one idea leads spontaneously to the other: Dager himself does not know yet, what will be his next approach. It is something that occurs to me on impulse, without premeditated reasoning, he explains, and the realization of this sudden internal need reassures me. So I feel that these fruits can no longer disappear, that no one will take them away.
I see them as weaknesses, he confesses in a low voice; to me, they represent a great creative power; feed us, becoming our own flesh, making us live and grow. It is a wonderful process. At the same time, they are so healthy, so beautiful and strong! It seems to me that they synthesize the wealth of the whole natural world. This confession shows us, surprisingly, Jorge Dager as a late follower of some ideas of Romanticism, always alive still, according to several contemporary authors. According to Robert Rosenblum, for example, (…) there are many examples in which the new concepts, emotions and structures of romantic art have penetrated quite unconsciously in the repertoire of countless artists of the twentieth century. In his commentary on the romantic elements in Paul Klee’s work, Rosenblum states that: perhaps the most intense revelation of these mysteries will occur in the world of plants, trees and flowers, which, like so many romantic, metaphors of the secrets of life. For example, one of his pictorial ideas is “an apple tree in bloom, its roots, the rising sap, its seeds, the cross section of its trunk with its annual rings, its sexual functions, the fruit, the heart of its seeds.” It is a description that, with its combination of botanical accuracy and the miraculous sense of organic growth, corresponds to a recurring romantic attitude that can be traced from Runge and Palmer through van Gogh, Nolde and, as we shall see, even Mondrian.
Adolf Grimme defines romanticism as making its way through what he calls “the vegetative extracts of the soul”; the preconscious, before the subconscious. The preconscious includes the imagination. Fritz Strich, analyzing in the field of romantic literature the idea of eternal permanence, always desired by man, indicates that it exists in perfection and also in infinity. Perfection longs for stillness. Infinity – movement and change. Perfection is closed, infinity – open. Perfection is clear, the infinite – dark. Perfection pursues the image, infinity – the symbol. I believe that to some extent, both elements exist and complement each other in Dager’s work. Their fruits, immobilized in time and space, express with their perfect stillness a natural reality already converted into a hierophany, in the Sacred; at the same time, this same stillness, achieved through all the imaginative means accessible to the painter, always changing and emotional, is his symbolic response to the insecure and defiant part of the reality that surrounds us. Dager does not want to accept the idea of the supposed death of art, pronounced by many contemporary thinkers. Neither do they like the challenging forecasts about the ideological vacuum that is opening up before us, like a bottomless pit. He affirms that he, like many other representatives of his generation, can not yet define his goals, but believe, that his pluralistic and restless pursuits make sense, and that at some point, perhaps not so far away, everything will be need. Life goes on, he says optimistically. The individual consciousness of the artist is always part of a wider social consciousness. A brief review of the trends of the moment allows us to see that in all parts of Latin America diverse artistic currents were born that seek deeper subjective meanings behind the forms, disconnected from the avant-garde politics and traditions.
Several authors emphasize the triumphal return of easel painting. Mariana Figarella writes about it: Many of the young people who begin as draughtsmen will make their way to painting. One of the most outstanding characteristics of the decade will be the return to that environment. This return is not gratuitous and, although in the long run it will have a favorable repercussion on the Venezuelan plastic medium, in its beginnings it is evidenced as a mimetic phenomenon, in relation to what is happening in the great centers of international art. Milan Ivelic and Gaspar Galaz also reflect on the general reappraisal of the act of painting, which has been felt in Chile since the late 1970s. At the same time, they note that the younger generation: opted to retreat into the interior of the self , taking distance from previous generations. It was like starting all over again, valuing the poetic character of artistic creation and revalidating the artist’s replacement as a painter.
Carolina Ponce de León comments on the difficult general situation in Colombia, characterized by drug trafficking and violence, and accompanied by the weakness of the State; a situation that, according to his criteria, contributed to the general politicization of the proposals of art. In this context: Painters seem to respond to this reality from their innermost state of consciousness, activating a kind of neo romanticism, characteristic of the end of the century. Before the evaporation produced by the crisis of other disciplines of interpretation, or of understanding of reality, recourse is made to interiorization, intuition and subjective imaginary. Gerardo Mosquera observes in Cuban art a growing interest in the more general problems of man, for his development in the universe: There is a true philosophical concern, no matter what the topic is treated, nor the language used. The final vision of these problems is affirmative, beyond the interest to express the contradictions. There is no nihilism, no alignment. At the same time, he comments that on more than one occasion critics and artists from the left of other countries have been surprised to discover that current Cuban art does not show the direct political or social direction that they expected. Luis Carlos Emerich observes in Mexico broken the limits between reality and fantasy, as well as the underlying conceptual vortex even in the most harmless objects, and the new discourse (…) decontaminated of civic or religious orders; which, however, is not anarchic. Ticio Escobar comments on the refined magical realism of some artists in Paraguay, which is governed by unconsciousness, delusion and the dream that announces, from the bottom of the absurd, the reflexive reaction that will come later.
The same tone is repeated in other comments, and in this context the work of Jorge Dager is located harmoniously. It represents the subjective reflections with a romantic touch. At the same time, her vision of the world is healthy and hopeful. In the eloquent presence of his magical objects, which surprise us with the imaginative amplitude of the artist, and based on the material of the interview with him, we can conclude our observations affirming that the realism of Dager is located far from descriptive passivity. Rather, it is a symbolic realism, which expresses an encounter between the world of objects and a sensitive subject, possessing a poetic mentality, which seeks a deeper approach to reality through intuition; this meeting, perhaps necessary, to reconnect the real and the abstract, and achieve a new balance, lost in the historical stage recently overcome. For poetic experience is one of the forms of knowledge, probably the most apt to recover the cosmic unity, conceived as a continuum of matter and spirit.
Anna Gradowska / Curator