None is the number
from the series "None is the number," displayed in the show "CIFRA silencio e imagen," at Centro de Arte Contemporaneo CeAC, Santiago, Chile. August 2011.
To attach a disposable image on a canvas is an operation that can be more critical than take a photo of it, because it binds that image with the history of painting, which is itself a history of power.
Gaspar Alvarez work from an idea of image that question his performance as a painter. From his image archive he choses the impartial ones, that is to say, those which their primary function was to illustrate a news report. Those that we can consider as visual documents, if something like that even exists.
However, when the images abandon the text they illustrated, and become empty, they begin to exist as pure visual data, questioning their original function. At the same time, his pictorial procedure also hints at the mechanical reproduction. He paints, that is, "translate" manually those images, but through a procedure that comes from the technology: the toner. Ink used in laser photocopiers which get fixed to the paper using heat. But these aren't photocopies, he just takes its ink and its fixation system and he –ironically– crafts the entire process.
Disposable images, thrown into an eye who tries to give them a meaning, a story and a context, not from the news but from the viewers subjectivity.
The result are synthetical images, in high contrast, with the white of the paper fighting the black of the ink. These drawings withdraws the most basic visual information of an image in a two-dimensional surface: figure and ground, cleaned from everything they could 've have of "newsy".
Extract from "¿Por qué mirar un cuadro podría ser significativo para alguien?" (Why look at a painting could be meaningful for someone?) by Voluspa Jarpa, written upon the show "CIFRA silencio e imagen", August 2011.