El reloj
Alfredo Frías
Constitución
22.06.19 | 20.07.19

El reloj, featuring work by Alfredo Frías (Buenos Aires, 1984) and curated by Martín Fernández and Alberto Antonio Romero—directors of Constitución gallery that housed it—was the second show held at Constitución’s new space located in La Boca. In the show, the large French-style hall was empty except for three recent large-format paintings and a watercolor diptych painted directly on the wall.

In relation to the work Chango cañero (Sugarcane Kid), Frías, a native of Tucumán province by choice, declares on Bola de Nieve website that his vocation consists of “looking at my surroundings—geographic, folkloric, and other—to speak not only of intimate questions, of things close at hand, but also to become aware of my time and place.” That time and place become relative—become other, even—when northern Argentina’s pictorial tradition is combined with, say, pop culture in the form of fashion photographs: Tucumán turns into Tucson City. El reloj’s curatorial text is Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem Wenn Aus der Ferne… (“If from a Distance …”) translated for the occasion by Antonella Saldicco. That poem also muddles and layers proximity and distance or past and present when, for instance, it pleas “still recognize me, and the past.”

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Alfredo Frías, El reloj, 2019, view of exhibition at Constitución.
Ph: Flor Lista

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Alfredo Frías, Le temps detruit tout, oil on canvas.
Ph: Flor Lista

In the Internet age with its overpopulation of images, Frías produces his visual world by appropriating and combining in his paintings scenes from movies, works by other artists, and ancient ruins. In Yo sabía que se rompía (I Knew It Would Break), the cracked checkered floor is taken from the ruins of Pompey. Further back on the same canvas we can identify The Vase of Hercules about to fall. To the right is the edge of a heavy curtain—a recurring theme in Frías’s work. Two watercolor serpents painted directly on the wall represent a god who kept watch over domestic life—a deity discovered in ruins in Pompey, once again, in 2018. In Frías’s version, twin representations of the serpent-god lurk to the left and to the right of an unlit fireplace. Almost transparent, they look like traces of ancient reliefs torn off the walls. The Joker on the facing wall shows Florero con hojas (Vase with Leaves) (1976), a work by Argentine artist Pablo Suárez depicting a vase on a table. In Frías’s work, the painting hangs over a “real” suspended flowerpot—in the same shape as Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, The Fountain (1917)—with a painted plant on fire inside. Frías organizes this superimposition of Suárez and Duchamp around a light source in the plant aflame. Lastly, Le temps detruit tout (Time Ruins Everything) shows a dark dining room in different shades of gray with large candelabras holding still-lit candles. The artist based this work on the scene of the destruction of the house in Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961), but he placed seven white rabbits amidst the broken dishes on the table, creatures who seem to have devoured what remained of the beggars’ banquette. The light cast on the rabbits is different from the light in the film, which shakes up the coherence of the painting’s light. The candles, meanwhile, remain lit and the curtains fall heavy over the windows. The show gets its title, El reloj, from the classic bolero to remind us of Trío Los Panchos’ plea, “Hold time in your hands/Make tonight last forever/So that she never leave me…”

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Alfredo Frías, The joker, oil on canvas.
Ph: Flor Lista

Content produced by arteBA. Annual Report on contemporary Argentine art