Leo Matiz + Lukas Ulmi




Exhibition Views


SET ESPAI D’ART presents the exhibition “Dialogues in balance. Leo Matiz and Lukas Ulmi”, curated by Rosa Ulpiano. A project which, faced with the paradoxical coexistence of two apparently antagonistic media: photography in modernity and contemporary sculpture, establishes a reading where compositional and philosophical abstraction bring together in a successful balance the spirit of conceptual search and the rising utopia of modernity.

For the first time in Spain, the exhibition presents a set of photographs -the abstract series- made between the end of the 1930s and the 1960s by the Colombian artist Leo Matiz (Aracataca, 1917-Bogotá, 1998). Iconic images such as “The Peacock of the Sea” or architectural and industrial spaces, as well as elements of figuration are undone through the camera creating an “abstract” parallel ambiguity, a dimension foreign to our visual memory that crosses spaces that the eye is not used to capturing. A series in which experimentation through the optical resources of the medium establishes a reading with the sculptural contemporaneity of Lukas Ulmi (Lucerne, 1958), as part of a common lexicon still in force.

Considered the novel of Colombian photography, Leo Matiz was described in 1949 as one of the ten most prestigious photographers of his time. Not in vain did he work for Paris Match, Momentos, Life or Reader’s Digest magazines on his tour of the US and later in his country to cover “El Bogotazo”, along with Gabriel García Márquez. Great figures of history have passed through his lens, such as: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Siqueiros, Orozco, Marc Chagall, Celia Cruz, María Félix, Esther Williams, Luis Buñuel, Fidel Castro or Tina Modotti, among others; leaving us a legacy considered one of the most important visual and historical records of the 20th century in Colombia and Latin America.

Lukas Ulmi makes another twist, re-introducing the found elements, in the same way that the photographer finds the moment or the precise form, creating new forms where geometry continues to be the central motif. Woods, irons that redouble in these new sculptures where the participation of the spectator, the movement, the balance and the visual and light effect – all characteristic of Ulmi’s career – are still defining. The sculpture, at times suggestive, runs a line through the room that challenges the visitor through Matiz’s photography, propelling him towards a new register, a return to contemporaneity. Geometries where architecture and art converge, erect an impeccable record of form and thought through the synthesis of material and construction. The characters that move through the scaffolding are metaphorically personalized in the visitor who walks through the sculptures, like a poetic tightrope walker. The apparent fragility of Ulmi’s sculpture reveals a dichotomy between limit and infinity, weight and lightness, an instrument of expression that introduces us into material space, into a physical reality to launch us immediately through the retinal optical game towards abstraction.

Sculpture and photography dialogue through the hands, because as Matiz said, his photographs are like sculptures worked in the laboratory, the skill of the hands is what will give the tones, like the modeling of the sculpture. And the moment, through the reflections of light, play with our retina in a sculptural series that Ulmi pays homage to by titling it “Matiz”. Deference to that Matizian Universe, with which he converses and whose quality of the various sculptural, mathematical, poetic, physical, geometric or visual codes, transform the exhibition set into fragments of a larger archetype, a meta-language.

Two records, two different views in space and time but both in balance within the insoluble paradigm of the same reality, abstraction.

“Desencadena”. El documentary video of the intervention carried out at the gallery by the dancer Ana Luján.

“El futuro (del arte) ya está aquí”. Review José Luis Clemente. El Cultural, El Mundo. February 7, 2020

“Dos miradas geniales”. Review by Isabel Pérez. Posdata, Levante el Mercantil Valenciano. February 8, 2020