Rodrigo Hernández - Dampcloot
Galerie Fons Welters - Front Space
3 Sep – 10 Oct 2020
With the title "Dampcloot", Rodrigo Hernández (1983, Mexico) refers to a 17th-century Dutch word coined by the Flemish mathematician and engineer Simon Stevin (1548-1620) to translate the Latin "vaporum sphaera", a term with which Galileo referred to a "vaporous realm". The word "dampcloot" was only used briefly and was eventually replaced by the current term "atmosphere", after being called by other authors "eercloot" and "dampkring", among many other names. Stevin, however, had a preference for the way in which different short words and particles, specifically in Dutch, could be brought together to form new words for describing concepts still not fully part of the scientific canon. For Stevin, the most important thing about "dampcloot" was its phonetic and potentially visual effect and not so much its clarity or scientific precision. He principally intended to stimulate imagination, triggering encounters between imagery and meaning-making.
Stevin's approach in this instance is similar to the way Rodrigo Hernández works. With the same poetic affinity for new words and their intrinsic ambiguity, he composes works and installations that search to flex pre-existing ideas and constructs. Thinking about the name of the atmosphere is a good case to test this, as it invokes a continuous slippage of meaning across languages and narratives, and brings up the idea of fluidity. The atmosphere “surrounds us and penetrates us. More than an absolute container, it is the stirring of everything” as Italian philosopher Emanuele Coccia says. There are endless ways to bring ideas and images together, and Hernández encourages different possibilities that further stimulate the imagination, refraining nonetheless from crafting a fully cohesive plot.
These cross-pollinations take place not only in thinking about atmosphere, but also in Dampcloot, the presentation in the gallery. Open, brightly colored papier-mâché sculptures are placed together on one plinth, which means they sometimes partially obscure each other. But thanks to their open varying shapes, they also offer new perspectives; forms can flow into each other and create new images, in a composition where there are no real or stable frontiers between its parts. This overflow of interlacing elements also appears in Hernández's drawings, which could be seen as two-dimensional variants of the sculptures. Together they create a kind of net in which the imagination establishes mutual relationships to experience the whole.
Rodrigo Hernández has had solo exhibitions at Sala de Arte Público Siquiros, Mexico City (MX); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (US); Kunsthalle Winterthur (CH); Midway Contemporary, Minneapolis (US); Pivô, São Paulo (BR); SALTS, Basel (CH); Kim ?, Riga (LV); Heidelberger Kunstverein (DE); Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (NL). In addition, he participated in: Future Generation Art Prize, Palazzo Ca'tron, Venice (IT); Hyperconnected. Fifth Moscow Biennial, Moscow (RU).
Hernández's work is in the collections of the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (NL); Museum Haus Konstructif, Zurich (CH); Kunstmuseum Sankt-Gallen (CH); Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (MC); Basel Stadt Kunstsammlung (CH); Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo / Fundación ARCO Madrid (ES).