Bernardí ROIG: "The Aphonic Poets and the Silence of Actaeon“

Bernardí Roig develops a body of work that rises up against amnesia, defending memory as a part of a contemplative space. Walter Benjamin analysed the illusory quality of the trauerspiel (baroque drama) which presents catastrophe to the eyes of the melancholic as if a mirror were trying to reflect an image in darkness. The presence of the baroque, so telling for this artist, is a hallucination: an allegory. We could well view Bernardí Roig’s work as a series of fragmentary stories in which the point of departure is memory seen “in the light of desire”.

For Bernardí Roig, white is the space of dreams, the only colour of the instant: “All Goethe’s Faust can be reduced to one single sentence: ‘Time stand still! You are so beautiful …’ Only then does one understand that the moment is white. This brooks no doubt. And in all certainty it is white, because light, once stilled, coagulates. We might then say that the gaze has been submerged in a glass of milk, and in this glass of milk we recognise the annunciation of a form of knowledge where the signifieds have still not copulated.” Roig’s work can be understood as an immersion in the sublime dimension of the mystery of the gaze or as the materialisation of unhappiness or emptiness. But this whiteness is nothing but the deceptive appearance of background darkness. Over the last twenty years or so, Roig has addressed the mythological passage of the fatal encounter between Actaeon and Diana and the transformation of the former into a stag (a true “hunter hunted” that cannot tell what his eyes have seen as his body is cruelly torn to pieces by his own hounds), believing it to be key for his obsessive theory of vision on the brink of blindness. As Fernando Castro tells us, “Bernardí Roig’s work might be no more than a deadly rompecabezas, a jigsaw puzzle or literally ‘head-breaker’, the obsessive sediment of someone entrenched in a head faced with a culture of embalmed moments.

The Aphonic Poets and the Silence of Actaeon is the third exhibition by Bernardi Roig at our space in Vienna. This project showcases a series of works (drawings, videos, sculptures, paintings and photos) made over recent years that combine and intertwine his fascination with the representation of the face - the series POETS - and the gaze of Actaeon, that transgressive gaze that challenges the prohibition of the divine and insists on seeing what is outside the possibility of sight. These images speak to us of non-communication, of the failure of the word and the aphony of poetry; of a distrust of representation and language. These works have the qualities of a mirror, they trap and deform our image and return to us a perforated face without sureties trapped between silence and amnesia.


Bernardí Roig (Palma de Mallorca, 1965), one of Spain’s most internationally acclaimed artists, lives and works between Madrid and Binissalem (Mallorca).
Recent solo shows include: Alcalá 31 Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Madrid; Hotel de Inmigrantes del MUNTREF in Buenos Aires; and his recent intervention in the Canterbury Cathedral, England, in 2016; Centro de Arte Contemporânea de Bragança, Portugal and The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., in 2014; Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid and Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid in 2013; MAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Gas Natural Fenosa, A Coruña, in 2012; Fundación Luis Seoane, A Coruña, in 2011; Ca’ Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d’arte Moderna Venezia, Venice and IVAM. Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, in 2009; and Kunstmuseum Bonn in 2006.

His work has also been seen in group shows including, among others, “Glassfever” at Dordrecht Museum, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2016; “Back to the Future. From Tiepolo to Warhol. The Klüser Collection”, Kunsthalle Krems. Austria and “Resonance(s)” at Maison Particulère Art Center, Brussels, in 2014; “Moving Norman Foster on Art”, Le Carré D’Art – Museé d’Art Contemporain, Nimes, in 2013; “R/Evolution Auf Papier. Fünf Jarhunderte in Zeichungen” at Alte Pinakotek, Munich, in 2012; “Glasstress 2011”. 54 Biennale di Venezia. Istituto Veneto di Science, lettere ed Arti. Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Venice and “TRA-Edge of Becoming”. Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, in 2011.

Throughout his career he has won numerous prizes, including, 37th Princess Grace Foundation Contemporary Art Prize, Monaco, 2003; Official Prize at 21st Alexandria Biennale, Egypt, 2002; Pilar Juncosa & Sotheby’s Special Award, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Mallorca, 1997; and Official Prize at 21st International Biennial of Graphic Arts of Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1995.
click to enlargeArtist: Bernardí ROIG
Title: Practices to suck the light (drawing II)
Year: 2013
Tech: charocoal on paper
Size: 100x70 cm
click to enlargeBernardí ROIG
Title: Poet (The Film - Videostill)
Year: 2014
Tech: TV and DVD black/white
Size: 9´ 17´´loop
click to enlargeBernardí ROIG
Title: Practices To Suck The Dark (Actaeon)
Year: 2014
Tech: Polyester resin, marble dust and light
Size: 200x40x40
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