28.5.15 - 11.7.15
Cities are not only spaces of human agglomeration. They are also economic and productive units, in which resources are consumed and large amounts of waste are generated. In recent years, these have begun to be perceived in a different way: no longer as the secondary effects of urban activity but as true products of the metropolis. In them, life forms, status marks, social qualities, identity traits are manifested.
There is a vanitas that is expressed in the waste that every city produces every day. And Rob Verf sets his gaze on this nature that is temporarily dying in the streets, before the indifference of its producers. For this, he resorts to a type of scientific image that alludes to the deep exploration of reality, although in his visual poetics it seems to be oriented rather to uncover a secret soul of things. There is a reflection on the consumer society in which we live, but also, a kind of loving gaze towards those objects that belonged to us and silently await the moment of their disappearance. There is also a meditation on representation and painting, on their social perspective, on the visible and the invisible, on the contemporary gaze of the artist.
The starting point is complex. It involves the confluence of at least three different visual configurations: on the one hand, the projective imagination that gives life to boxes, bags and various scattered waste, based on daily observation (Verf does not use graphic or photographic records as a source of inspiration; this is revealed in certain incongruous perspectives that are not generally perceived at first glance); on the other, the ordering of those objects to form groups that iconographically refer to still lifes (in which the elements that make them up have symbolic and semantic resonances that are projected beyond their appearances); finally, the plastic treatment based on the thermal images of the technological scans with which some type of body or reality (physical, organic, geological, etc.) is auscultated, which, in addition to referring to an extra-pictorial code, puts into play an interesting tension between painting, drawing and photography.
The axis of the whole series takes garbage as a social and significant product of a type of human organization and a precise historical time. He casts his gaze on the waste that clusters in the streets and on the corners, directs the focus of attention towards what we prefer not to see, but does not do so in order to show a decadence of humanity, or in the manner of a public complaint , but rather, to verify a state of contemporary society that requires awareness and responsibility. A responsibility that not only concerns the inhabitant of the metropolis, but also the artist, as an observer of the world that surrounds him.
Verf decides to portray this state of the urban landscape through a sophisticated technological vision. A vision that makes objects transparent, that detaches them from their usually unpleasant appearance, that makes them the focus of an analytical gaze. This operation, however, pursues a poetic purpose, which is evident, for example, in the scale dimensions without numerical references that appear in the margins of the paintings, and which do not allow the objects represented to be dimensioned. Thus, the paintings do not describe a reality, but rather enhance it through the legitimate resources of aesthetic production.
Work in shades of gray voluntarily renounces pictorial naturalism to appropriate the photographic gaze that is at the base of technological approaches to the physical world. The option chosen by the artist - the thermal image - also incorporates an allusion to the energy contained in the objects that multiplies the semantic projections of his work. On the other hand, through this option, Verf stresses the qualities of the medium he uses, while reflecting on one of the modes of representation typical of our time.
Thus, these ghostly images, these urban specters, challenge us at different levels, inviting us to reconsider the banality of their referents. And the thing is that the garbage that we produce every day is still one of the mirrors in which our society is reflected. By directing his attention to her, investigating the city margins, Rob Verf brings to the surface a lateral but latent conflict, that surreptitious tension that borders on the presentiment of the existential in vanitas.