MAGICAL REALISM: RE-ENCHANTING REALITY
6 October–4 November
In the burning ashes of World War I, European artists of the 1920s attempted to sow society with seeds to bring a new enchantment to a wounded world. Surrealism emerged and remains one of the best examples of a movement that gathered artists working in a variety of media, visual as well as literary, around a common desire.
“Magical realism” was first coined in 1925 by German art critic Franz Roh and later became famous under the spell of Latin American writers. Roh’s theory emphasizes the magic within reality—its objects and matter—as it presents itself to us; magical realism enables us to see reality from a different angle and, ultimately, with a different face. Artists Antonio Donghi, Alexander Kanoldt, and Georg Schrimpf were the main representatives of Roh’s definition.
Almost 25 years after Roh introduced the term, Alejo Carpentier expanded on it in the prologue of his novel The Kingdom of This World. Carpentier incorporated the extraordinary history and culture of Latin America and named his theory “marvelous realism.” For the Cuban writer, the many myths, rites, and traditions perpetuated by Latin American peoples developed a form of reality akin to fantasy. Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Year’s of Solitude is a paragon of the genre.
Hugo Galerie is proud to present an exhibition gathering three artists whose artistic practices bring this re-enchantment to life.
Beth Carter’s sculptures can be seen as a recollection of her mental pictures; they open doors guarded by mythological figures waiting to lead the viewer to a fantastic garden of dreams. Carter’s artwork is a passage through time, an invitation to oddity.
Speaking of gardens and oddity, Eric Roux-Fontaine has woven a network through his memories and feelings of travels where reality (the “outside”) meets the mind (the “inside”). This collision creates sceneries where objects and places—here a bed, there a forest or a theater—seem not only romanticized, but also destabilized and reinvented.
Whereas Carter and Roux-Fontaine’s work reflects imagery usually found in countries where customs and legends remain strong, Marc Chalmé’s painting reminds us of Roh’s early vision of magic realism. One must haunt reality in order to be haunted in return. Chalmé’s pursuit is a complete immersion in his environment: streets and buildings, kinsfolk, objects, lights… every long walk and wandering, from dusk to dawn, day in and day out, is an opportunity for the artist to slip under the veil of things and a chance to capture their substance.
In their own ways, Carter, Roux-Fontaine, and Chalmé illustrate French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s famous quotation: “A matter faithfully contemplated produces dreams.” Their art not only throws off our balance, but also infuses reality with dreamlike impressions and thus re-enchants our lives.
Beth Carter, Farewell Carousel II, plaster, fabric, wood, acrylic, 23 ½ x 20 x 20” (60 x 51 x 51cm)
Eric Roux-Fontaine, Le Cantique du Quantique, charcoal on paper, 31 ½ x 42 ½” (80 x 108cm)
Marc Chalmé, The Hours I, oil on board, 14 x 10 ½” (35 ½ x 26 ½cm)