Bridging Gaps in Perception:
Negative Space by Azor Pazcoguin
In his sixth solo exhibition, Negative Space, Azor Pazcoguin questions the very nature of figuration by extending his subject matter—usually ordinary faces and objects—towards the realm of abstraction, interrogating its limits. Faces are not simply a depiction of surface or a departure from the modeling of form, but an evocation of layers. The artist departs from the cubist ethos not by showing different sides all at once by presenting a discernible outer shell and an interior hollowness, as if to deliver a portrait of postmodern fragmentation. His other figures are equally prone to such a radical erasure so much so that a part of the face seems to have been defaced by a clean sweep of a palette knife; another figure appears to be still in the process of becoming entirely solid through a cascade of drips. Pazcoguin is not afraid to reveal the technicalities of his craft so that he can present, in monochromatic intensity, the nuts and bolts of his creative process, his visual thinking. The artist’s assiduous technique extends to his still lifes in the form of a hanging apron, a typewriter with missing keys, an umbrella that appears eerily transparent. Revealing the painterliness of the artist’s style, the works are paradoxically sustained by incompletion. Verisimilitude is not the point but an awareness that a certain accumulation of strokes can readily suggest objects in space. While subject to distortions, these representations are still true to their function as referents, as icons. They do not lose their figurative power. The “negative space” alluded to in the title suggests that thin line between figuration and abstraction, between perception and recognition. To what extent can an artist distort the image but still maintain its signifying quality? What is the nature of representation itself? If a subject matter can traffic between figuration and abstraction, what exactly is the viewer looking at? Rather than answering these questions outright, the works present the avenue through which these inquiries may be accessed. At the heart of Negative Space is the artist’s presentation of the medium of painting with its shape-shifting and mutable potential. The figures and the objects the viewer sees are not transfixed in space but are actively transforming right before his eyes. They are caught between the process of either deterioration or completion. Their occupation of both zones of figuration and abstraction liberates them from being wholly discursive or suggestive. Hence, they approximate the world we move in: captured in a rush, perceived in snippets, but magisterially unfurls as something total and singular in the mind.
by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana