‘El ojo de dios’ (the eye of god) and ‘getting to nothing’; the self-referential works of William Fares

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”  William Blake

By Jonas Maailmanpalo

Trying to get to something that is not may seem like a waste of time, but for William Fares it’s been a life time pursuit. This is the New York artist’s first solo exhibition in Mexico.

The exhibition at Galería Skot Foreman in Fábrica la Aurora exemplifies the idea that the less there is to look at, the more one should look.

“El Ojo de Dios”
Fri, Jul 5, 5-9pm
Galería Skot Foreman
Fábrica La Aurora
The exhibition, open daily, will run through August 31

The works in this exhibition are those of a literalist, a ‘maker’, they are not pictures or illustrations of something else; they are literally the things in themselves. What constitutes this artist’s understanding of image development is confined within the materials and the act of problem solving and although the images are made up from geometric configurations, they are not about them.

As with any art throughout history, the relationship of being and not being is expressed differently from one generation to the next. Individual experiences and sensibility of ‘making and unmaking’ are contained within each work the artists produce. But what I find interesting about Fares’ work is how he deals with the ideas of figure/ground, being and not being, in very real and physical terms without deferring the relationship off to the wall or some other surface.

‘ojo de dios’; the sole painting in the exhibition needs no company. The only image is a floating flat, gray circle with an oval hole within it that is centered on the golden vertical canvas. The center changes from a hole to a round ball as the viewer moves from one side to the other. The central gray image is almost the same value as the ground it is on and seems to disappear because it is being looked at. Depending on where the viewer stands, the painting’s ground changes color, from gold to red or to yellow, and the central image, too, changes shape and color. Everything is in constant flux, including the viewer.

Obviously this painting is not meant to be viewed solely from the front. Instead it encourages multiple points of view and because of it ‘ojo de dios’ feels like a multiplicity of paintings. There is a presence in its none-ness that is disturbing. If this is the ‘eye of god’ it is elusive.

In order to get to ‘ojo de dios’ one must pass through the main exhibition gallery, therefore through the series of multiple ‘works on paper’, considered objects of manipulation. What I mean by that is that both the figure and the ground of each of the works are expanded and/or reduced in the process of opening and ‘drawing back’ to expose the paper’s interior. The ground takes on a new meaning and is valued on a different yet equal plane than the image that occupies it. The exposed interior’s physicality reduces and expands the relationship of being and not being.

What constitutes the integrity of an image (figure) as well as the space (ground) it occupies are drawn into question. ‘Reduction and expansion’ form the catalyst for the different variations of the artist’s understanding of ‘getting to nothing’.

The ‘works on paper’ are set in brutally constructed steel frames that seem to function as vaults meant to contain their physicality.

There is no need to look beyond these works for their inspiration; they are not abstracted from anything else. They are self-referential and are themselves the point of their own origin.

For Fares making art is not about communication, or a search for constructs or absolutes; for him, art is about resistance to the common and accepted while trying to get to something that is not.

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