Description & Technical information

The drawings are part of the project L'idée, L'oubli, La fragilité (Chapellerie haute) from 1994, that Vergara himself describes as ‘installation, painting, performance’. In a store-like space, hats and caps are presented on shelves; on a shop counter, next to a pile of newspapers with a hat on top, the artist sits under a white sheet, like a ghost in a comic book, a camouflage he often uses for his public appearances as Streetman; the whole is illuminated by a chandelier of hats and tin cans. The title, which he repeats on the big price-list behind the counter, situates this project within a series of actions that call into question the behavior of spectators in public, usually commercial spaces. In 1992, Vergara transformed a gallery in Brussels into a café – L'usage, L'échange, Le Récit (Café de la Galerie des Beaux-Arts) – and in 1993, in Calais, he installed Le travail, l'œuvre, l'action (Salon Public). In these interventions, Vergara harks back to the ‘distancing’ methods of both Magritte and Broodthaers to draw spectators’ attention to the large measure of routine in their daily lives, but compared to these artists he makes a more direct appeal to the public, he hopes it will encourage participation and dialogue. With banal reality as his starting point, in a non-provoking way Vergara wants to focus attention on the social and liberating role that this art can play despite the constricting economic context it appears in. – The preliminary studies for the chandelier of hats and tin cans show that here Vergara is not interested in making an ecological gesture like recycling, but rather in producing a slightly confusing pictorial-sculptural presence. In the case of one watercolor the objectives are well recognizable – in cheerful colors, floating like frisbees or seats in a carnival ride – but most often we see patches of color like we’d see if we looked into the chandelier, or like the light we’d like see festively scattered around, not in terms of its wattage, but as art itself.

Date:  1994
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Belgium
Medium: watercolor on paper
Dimensions: 42 x 29.8 cm (16¹/₂ x 11³/₄ inches)
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints