Silvio Fischbein’s work speaks in a multitude of languages. The words and his graphic elements protagonize some of the art pieces in languages from all over the world, but also universal are his pieces of textile art and 3D collages that he creates with children’s toys or with ceramics. The artist is fully submerged in his labor, thinking of the shape, color, composition, but not in the thematic storyline: the work speaks in the language in which the spectator wants to understand it. Therefore, it is universal.
The composition, color, but also the pattern and texture are the main elements in his pieces. There is a way to paint without a gesture, without a brush, through the disposition of the elements which Fischbein treasures and organizes. His hands go straight to the material. He speaks and in his fingers two little acrylic bead bracelets move around, with that sound of moving pieces, a cheerful and light tinkling. The same with which resound in his palette the plastic pieces, bright, lightweight: the dazzling trinket for which any child throws himself onto the ground when a piñata bursts in a cheerful bang. In his choice of materials he enjoys a freedom without regards.
He enjoys creating. In his weavings, his laborious configurations, in the careful finish, the patient wait of every piece, there is his expression. In the love with which he gathers, classifies and displays, cuts and sets, protects, frames. Cares for. Knows how to care for. And in this way, with accumulations of diminutive chosen figures, Fischbein has delineated a language with which he speaks in his own style. His work is recognizable and undoubtedly his. It is the result of his constant questions more so than certainties. He paints essays with answers, incorporating objects, that are nothing more than colors, where geometry contains and organizes.
Each one has and irreducible viewpoint. The reception, the perception, is unique, in a determined time and space. Inwardly personally his pieces resound like rhythmic compositions, and somewhat abysmal: Fischbein portrays something of the anonymous multitude we all are in this era. A mass of insignificant beings, a bit alone, in the virtual tide of relationships woven into the webs. Like his characters, we are all naked and helpless in this machinery.
Fischbein does not speak of inspiration but of the state of creation: a condition thatnever fades, which he maintains alert 24 hours a day. Each piece is the result of an ever-flowing creative process. This book gathers his first piece, textiles and ceramics -lithic but at the same time organic- with the most recent configurations of toy babies and towers made of newspaper cubes from around the world. Decades have passed, but they are united by a celular issue transformed in texture. And that conviction which impregnates his productions: we are all equal.
Another key may be that primal phrase written by his teacher Batlle Planas for the catalogue of one of his first exhibits, in the Rubbers gallery, at sixteen years old: When Cleopatra’s breasts appeared in your window I felt dispossessed, my son. He only recalls that line, that shocked his parents. And even though he tries, yearns, he cannot remember more. He could not conserve the text, because when he asked his teacher to cut that line, Batlle took the article from his hands, enraged. “All of my work is inspired in that text”, says Fischbein today.
Silvio grew up quickly, rushed by parents who were children of Russian immigrants who saw in their rapid progresses guarantees for the future. At fifteen he had already finished school and was signing up for Architecture, because being an artist was not -for them- a plausible profession. The arts accompanied him from the beginning. Life led him through two parallel courses: the formal, where he developed as an architect, a moviemaker, a fundamental professor in the University of Buenos Aires, founder of a career, president of associations and director of cultural entities; and in the workshop, where he breathes a different air and gives in to creating. Perhaps there he reunites with that desired box of little soldiers that disappeared one day, when it was too soon, at fifteen years old, because he became a man without being able to look back. Again, the tinkling of the tiny toys moving in his hands to shape a world and, this way, finding answers.
María Paula Zacharías – October 2019
“As soon as we become aware, in our society, that the work of art that we must take care of, that area where we must apply aesthetic values, is oneself, one’s own life, one’s own existence”
To think about Silvio FISCHBEIN’s visual production is to trace lines of a creation process of other worlds, a place where what remains alive in the material is sheltered and kept from where everything can go back to “taking land”, to reinvent a territory of possibilities. Understanding his production in a retrocollective fashion; thus, with multiple collaborations and encounters, not only within artworks but also betweenperspectives, it gives us the possibility of thinking and acting the different and what constitutes it, as another modality of subjectivation.
The principal line of flight that runs through his whole production seems to be a dialectic of questions, interrogations that affect and link us not only to generate other relationships between art-piece-audience but also, and more urgently, to connect his work-body between diaspora and regions in a production; between realities and dreams that keep it connected to a grid that creates meaning. A soft hospitality that invites us to recognize a revelating artist of a revision exercise and reaffirmation of personal territory although shared, open to accept that the question always assumes that the difference is clung to its other, that it does not have as a result the definition of a concept or of a unilateral distinction; on the contrary, the difference always alludes to a complex conjuncture where every element has always been- already affected by others.
In this affect, the visual is worked as a continuous demand; no longer is language taken as an aesthetic orthodox value but as a vital metaphor. Abandoning the idea of representing reality by means of language, what transports material is worked with in which a new vision permits, a new organization of the universe, a new diagram of associations, an affective genealogy in which the power of “the truth” is given by the same possibilities of the material the artist intervenes with without stripping it of its intrinsic history, its imprints, its formal weight and politics, its world, to make it last in other logics of meaning and temporary formulations.
Through the activation of the notion of art as a device that regains forces that act under representation and connect it with the domain of the sensitive, with diverse universes of reference and subjectivity; Fischbein’s production is a territory that resists to come to recognize in consistency itself the visual material a project of the world, destined for a cosmos that it does not hold or own, but to which it does not keep from heading to take charge of, as Foucalt points out, life itself, of our own existence.
María Laura Reginato – 2019
In these objects, there exists not a single representation. The dichotomy of signifier and signified has shattered. There are only traces of meanings anchored in the titles of the series. The artist does not want to say anything, because they’ve decided to act instead of speaking. So, between the signifier and the signified arises the question. It creates a field of uncertainty that gives the artwork endless possible meanings.
In the exhibition room, in this book and in the very work space we find the finished piece waiting for us. Only us – spectators active visitors – are capable of opening interpretations. There, in that infinite polysemy, lies the richness in the works of Silvio Fischbein.
Fischbein’s work in the visual arts is permanent and unstoppable. The ability of his production to be thought of as parallel series, is not a category a posteriori. It is the way it has been constructed during these 55 years of trajectory. Simultaneously, and fundamentally, from the actioning of its author; working every day. Every millimeter of what we see is in consequence of meticulous work.
At the same time, the series are flexible territories. “The works enter and exit from one collection to another one, they settle on their own and they interact with their occasional company, getting diverse senses, temporary draftings.” That is: the work method stays centered in the open sense of the different series and works. Like polyfunctional syntactic units, every piece could generate new dialogues.
Federico de la Puente / July 2018
The work of Silvio Fischbein creates a new interpretation of time. The pieces are not chronologically ordered. However, in parallel according to series. The same ones -in turn- are the only anchoring device we refer to to pose hypotheses.
Each action has in itself the alteration of the time it unfolds in. Specifically, each piece and its exhibition can alter the ideology it belongs to. At the same time, the historic production of an artist constantly interrupts its productive development in the present. Dialogues are created, resources are found. Even, for those of us who are silent testimony: a piece from the past can resignify a whole new series.
When we gather the ceramics produced in the year 1965 with works of the series “of EVERYDAY LIFE” (2014), we prove how both take on new meanings. The pieces created a coherent story in Fischbein’s poetic. The essay that incorporated as a theoretical-practical frame the characteristic polysemy proved the hypothesis: the pieces are capable of going beyond the series and -also- the chronology.
A critique by Basilio Uribe (1916-1997) was incorporated in the exhibit which in the magazine Criterio on November 10th, 1966 proposed interpreting Fischbein’s ceramics as functional objects defunctionalized through a morphological operation. That line of interpretation applied perfectly to the most recently intervened objects. All of them have lost their utility. Opening the archive and bringing it to the present transformed it into another way of interpreting the entire body of work. In the same way the pieces from 2010 coexist with the 2017 ones: the anachronic perspective creates a new contemporaneity.
The coexisting of Fischbein’s pieces in their anachrony extends as well to his audiovisual work. For example, the critical view and humanity remains within one of his first pieces – “Without Forget” (1983) – and his most recents productions in videoart: “everyone, THE SAME” (2014).
The productive and poetic investigation of Silvio Fischbein, then, poses upon us another take on Art History. It calls us to have an active presence before what we see. Interpretations, perceptions, including time/space notions seem to stagger. Remaining in front of the piece by this artist requires confrontation before what we believe we are and the times we live in.
Federico de la Puente – July 2018
“That which with all evidence we do not see, looks at us as a lost effort. The manner of what is visible becomes inescapable -that is, condemned to a question of being- when seeing is feeling that something eludes us it eludes us inescapably: said another way, when seeing is losing. Everything is there.”
The character opens a drawer. They find toys and a camera with their own images. Cut. The character opens a drawer. They find their hostess’ underwear. Cut. The character opens a drawer. They find it empty. Which of all these options is real? The work of Silvio Fischbein takes the autonomy of art to the point where, he himself in the role of the author seems to disappear so that the art piece is free of any closed meaning. The interpretation of every piece is left in the hands of the spectator.
“The author is a modern character, undoubtedly produced by our society, in the dimension they’re in, coming out of the Middle Ages and thanks to English empiricism, French rationalism and personal faith of the Reform, discovers the prestige of the individual or in a more noble way, of the “human person.”
It was not until the coming of artistic autonomy that the dichotomy signifier-signified stopped being used wholly as another tool for domination. This is how we have been able to reach the development of the artistic vanguards, asking ourselves about the relationship between art and life, getting into abstraction and even expressing the end of art. If art -and, thus, the subject- would have never expected an autonomous thought, contemporary art would not be possible.
However, let us remember that that autonomy has always been fiction. Each person is molded by belief systems that juxtapose and displaces them. The prevailing paradigms are already without need of being installed through great works of art. We are part of a pattern of meanings which we construct and deconstruct.
This is in play, up until the moment of confronting these works. We must know that every interpretation we elaborate, has an origin in a pattern of meanings which precedes us and of which we are a part. What suggests multitude, ceramic, that frame in the movie or that intervened object? Whichever the answer it will have a greater link with our ideas than with an author’s intention.
If contemporary art does not possess determining axioms, Fischbein’s poetic keep his own principles hidden. Fundamentally, he generates a pensive space so we will be the ones to develop a new dialogue. It can be only an expression of desire of the writer, but let us imagine a world where we appropriate an image’s meanings -as we do in Fischbein’s work- can be possible.
Federico de la Puente – July 2018
Silvio Fischbein enrolls his activity within the contemporary art’s questioning and reflections. That is why, thinking in a text articulated with his work makes us to explore in his career the evidence that supports this statement.
It is not new that we live in a present time where uncertainty takes a relevant space and where there are, still, many contemporary art manifestations left to be understood. Thus, it exists, for example, a general agreement in thinking that in the very idea of “contemporary art” underlies the un-constraint of languages, ambiguity of senses, the delegitimisation of the auratic value of the artwork or dissolution of the aesthetic experience pleasant function, just to mention some of the trade marks of the current scene. It is also true, we are far from those conceptions that are based on accurate postulates capable of encompassing all the formulations using regulatory paradigms. And, above all, we are convinced that it is been a long time since the idea of art has decoupled from the concept of beauty and from the singularity that it guaranteed. Pinned to a need of permanent definitions of terms which blur the art specificities, we are immerse in a flow of ideas, many times only provisional, which Rancière calls “aesthetic regime of art” which enable new ways of understanding the probabilities lying there where the internal categories of art seemed to dissolve (Rancière, 2013.) According to the philosopher, it is there where it lays the possibility of thinking about perception, feeling and interpretation as resources to integrate the everyday prossaic world into the sphere of art. Thus, it redefines itself and it blurs the borders which divided the arts from the sensitive experience of the world. And it is, precisely, in the acknowledgement of the protagonism that acquiere the most banal and insignificant objects from everyday life, that we find a point of support to think Silvio Fischbein’s work. The object and its manipulation as a resource to be regarded as art regulates, in its multiple shapes, each one of the explorations where the artist takes the viewer into a playful activity which is not necessary innocent. In the territories where these explorations move, it is repeated, as leit motiv a disturbing game of polarities in perpetual tension. Thus, the innocent and the sinister, the utilitarian and the useless, the order and the chaos, the limit and the overflow, the predictable and the random, the near and the far away live together inside a narrative which expresses the relationship of the artist with the context making obvious his ascription to the process of the art today.
In the works of the early 2000, we already noticed the irruption of objects coming mostly from serial industrial production which highlights the urban and consumer contexts of its origen. Sometimes, it is organized based on a geometric order, a multitude of cotillion toys in vibrant colors, dominating the yellow, rose, green, white or pale blue, intertwined rhizomatic in textures which could expand into the infinite if it was not because of the frame or box which contains them and denies them the possibility of dispersion. Here we find variations of the combination game. While in some works chaos dominates composition, either through the oppression that provokes books oppressing the tiny toys, or because they are screwed into the wooden surface where they are mounted; in other works order defines image based on its disciplining to an orthogonal composition.
At the same time, proximity and alienation could be understood as two vectors which orientate Silvio Fischbein’s representative strategies in his manipulation of the object facing reality. In the first case, proximity is established through the familiarity between the viewers and the type of objects chosen by the artist. As it was already said, sometimes they are cotillion toys, others, the popular Kinder eggs, screws, films or photo film, paint tubes, brass rollers, everyday objects which are part of a “curiosity cabinet” so typical of the obsessive collecting spirit where there live together elements we can find in a hardware store, in a sweets or stationary store, or in the trunk of a child’s bedroom which makes it easy to have a “close” relationship between the work of art and the viewer. At the same time, the decontextualization of these objects from its ordinary environment and its unusual inclusion in the artistic sphere generates surprise and estrangement which problematises its primary sense. It is a new everyday logic which estimulates a relationship between art and life where it is not difficult to deduce its derivation from the dadaistic practices which valorated the free bond of the man with domestic life objects.
Particularly disturbing is the way Fischbein uses the cotillion babies. Its obsessive presence, by multiplying their use, leaves open the possibility of understanding it as an allusion to the individual massification in its primary and most vulnerable state, immerse in urban agglomerations which condemned him to an alienating anonymity. This leads to a dissolution of the subjectivity, to a state of anguish, where it is cornered and unrecognizable, to a state of strangeness of oneself, without a context and without a history. In many of his works we can see this situation: boxes where there are randomly accumulated dozens of little cotillion dolls which, at the same time, are even more sinister because of their own pink and light pale blue color and because of their candor that can be supposed because of its premature and innocent condition. This increases the degree of tension until it is almost unbearable.
Even then, we also identify the interest for the plot, a narrative coordinating resource based on the organization of small units of language inside a bigger group. In a plot schemed many times with wire, every piece is integrated into a bigger structure which gives it an aesthetic and narrative sense.
This strategy will be resumed in more recent works where he returns to the starting point from a new enunciation context. About this point we will be back later.
In any of these resources, Fischbein appeals to the aesthetics of the accumulation, debtor of the poetics of the new realism of the end of the 50’s and already detected in other texts about the artist. This way, his obsessive assemblings are evident, where the multiplied presence of objects creates a horror vacui feeling which the artist seems to try to neutralize using colors diversified in a broad spectrum palette as well as in the atention put in the quality of the materials, in the posibilities of brightness, texture and transparency. This solution claims new posibilities as Fischbein reorientates his inquires. In the serie called “Fragmentos urbanos” (“Urban Fragments”) between 2010 and 2011, we find him rehearsing unusual mappings structured in color surfaces. On these ones, he puts objects arranging them in a predetermined way and appealing to the accumulative effect typical from mass societies. We do not exactly percieve in this serie but rather a conciliation of notions which could be antagonic.
On the other hand, there is a careful formal and aesthetic search which could be seductive if it was not because, at the same time, Fischbein proposes an inquiry on the political order assuming a critic to the conurbation. It now appears a relationship between the natural and the artificial encripted into those big green spaces combined with overwhelming crowds stripped of all humanity. At the same time, as an answer to the light hedonism which could be read in the plastic dolls candor, the artist shows an ironic gesture by subverting this reading from their own languages and procedures; this way, those little cotillion toys accumulated and trapped in those gaudy color fields are metaphors of alienation in a society degraded by a trivialization of aesthetic value. But it also opens the possibility of thinking about them as a flow of migrants in a perpetual state of uprooting.
On the other hand, in the works grouped under the title “La Celebración” (“The Celebration”) a serie made in 2011, the artist proceeds through a vitalist impulse which takes him to focus on the function of light and the properties of the epoxy resin which allows him to highlight the palette’s protagonism. In this sense, this serie makes a contribution to his works of a bigger pictoric dimension by expanding, through light sources, the projection of color beyond the forms over the space where they are located, unlocking the potential energy of the pigment and encouraging an atmosphere of intense poetic charge.
Also, it puts aside both the frame that enclosed his pieces and the orthogonal concept that ruled his compositions. Preserving the playful character of his practice, the artist organizes structures of freer and more random shapes. That way, he stressed on testing the random using materials such as plexiglas which highlights those transparencies that were already present in his previous works. Here, certain composition rigors more regulated make way to bigger form experimenations. These exploration activities also take him to try other solutions in connection with the point of view of the viewer. Not only it dilutes the frame but also the wall idea as support. The decision of leaving the wall surface and choosing a location that can also be platform prompts to broaden the points of view, expanding the viewer’s perceptive universe and encouraging a bigger protagonism in their receptive activity.
During this period, the above mentioned resources are boosted and, at the same time, new ones appeared. Thus, there is not a surface anymore, neither regular nor irregular. It is the object emancipated from the support and inhabited by old presences (e.g. the cotillion) again manipulated in order to keep the viewer, with either irony, cuelty or tenderness, in a permanent state of surprise.
Contradicting its specific function, the furniture shows the useless and represents a nightmarish world. From iridescent boxes little grotesque plastic dolls hurry to go out while some strange Guinea brooms are tragically trapped in the epoxy resin. In its due time, like in Lewis Carroll oniric obsessions, objects lose the scale that the rational world has given them. And then, renewing the accumulation strategies, old suitcases, chairs, doors, windows or piano keyboards start getting a strange and threatening look with the intrusion of nails, dolls, shirts immobilized by the pigment and the epoxy. Installing the ordinary everyday in the field of the extraordinary seemed to be the ultimate basis in the serie´s meaning.
From 2013 to the present, the artist faces new challenges which he solves in “Multitudes” (“Crowds”) his last serie. Here, the theme of the plot we have mentioned in previous paragraphs in a fleeting manner, reappears in large format works. “Obra modular en dimensiones variables” (“Modualar Work in Variable Sizes”) is a structure to be placed embedded in the floor, organized on a base of 24 plastic modules coming from garden and park materials. Their size can reach twelve square meters and takes the form of a big rug where the viewer can freely walk. If it was not because in the interior of each module are accumulated, once again, the recurring cotillion little dolls ready for the sacrifice of their destruction. The plot which organizes the modular sequence generates the friendly exterior of a simple colored texture. Once more, the tension regulates the concept of the work.
On the other hand, on the large format frame support, Fischbein moves forward with new structures of monumental character, where the plot is now solved through the technique of knitting. Using the editor resource, as it happens in the cinema universe but far away from any technological procedure, the artist focus on the handmade, thorough and ancient craft of the knitter. The handmade knitt has implicit a time which is the thought reflexive time. It is an intimate and domestic craft but Fishbein magnifies it expanding its size to the limit, as if he wanted to monumentalize that extreme degree of humanity represented by the manual activity. Maybe it is one more strategy to rescue the man from the crowds diluted in the current time uncertainties.
Finally, we understand that Silvio Fischbein’s explorations answer to an impulse that tries to disarrange the certainties and, in that impulse the act is more important than the result because, that act, as the children´s act, is infinitely misterious, infinitely desirable.
Ranciere, Jacques (32013) Aisthesis “Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art” translated by Horacio Pons, Buenos Aires, Manantial.
Silvio Fischbein’s work is not easy to take in. On the contrary, it demands our attentive look. It compels us to search beyond.
It is about boxes stuffed with small pieces that intermingle, that follow one another, that link up creating worlds where one can get immensely lost. Silvio Fischbein works with everyday objects, and even with a certain kitsch touch constantly, obstinately repeated in his run, elements disappear to turn into works perfectly closed, in which the search is absolutely aesthetic in art’s most classic sense: composition, colour, texture, direction. The most appealing thing in Silvio Fischbein’s art is the use of simple, totally decontextualised elements, tiny little dolls which serve as colour and texture generators, though not as characters or referring to a particular object. A little truck does not function as such, but as a colourful spot; likewise, thousands of plastic babies do not refer to children, but to visual textures. The inherent meaning of the children’s piñata toys, little jars, lids Silvio’s works are made out of, lose their character through repetition. “My ideal is not to compose, but to generate texture,” Silvio says.
I guess that many times, like in every work of art, images refer to the viewer’s meanings, but meanings are open. Thus, everyone will read something different in the same work of art, and there will be as many interpretations as spectators because it is work that is sealed with the outside look.
Silvio is a species of rare artistic archaeologist, who finds different objects to create his almost wholly abstract images combining material, colours and shapes. He takes a special look at things, discovering beauty in things most of us would not even see (for instance I’m thinking of a work made with a large number of metal pipe cuttings). He takes everyday things out of context to highlight a noteworthy feature: a particular shine, a colour, a shape. There is absolute freedom in his choice of material, be it toys, wire, mirrors, film, showing that art is not the prerogative of any material or of any what, but of an elaborate how.
Silvio Fischbein firmly believes in following his own path and in enjoying it, which is the only way to be really genuine in art.