Magdalena Fernández (*1964 in Caracas, lives in Caracas) is one of the most important representatives of contemporary reductionist art in Venezuela. Fernández, who studied mathematics and physics before her career as an artist, addresses fundamental issues of geometric abstraction in keeping with the tradition of Latin American, and particularly Venezuelan, constructivist trends. Since the 1950s, a distinct, extraordinarily sensuous variation on constructivist art has developed in Venezuela. Examples of this include the organic-looking installations by Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt) and the kinetic, sometimes walk-through works by Jesús Rafael Soto. With this interest in the sensuous potential of geometry, the works of Fernández combine minimalist approaches with an intuitive approximation of forms and processes of nature.

In her video installations, geometric forms undergo subtle metamorphoses caused by light and movement, thus taking on an organic, living quality. The work exhibited here, 2iPM009 (2009) belongs to a body of works which Fernández calls "Mobile Paintings". On the black projection screen, light and animation give rise to a complex fabric of forms: dots become lines, lines become cross structures and thus there develops an ever-denser network of white horizontals and verticals, which appear like vibrating plus and minus signs. They are reminiscent of Mondrian's early compositions with horizontal-vertical subdivision, such as his sketch series "Church Facade" or the painting series "Pier and Ocean" (1914/15). For Mondrian, these studies with densely juxtaposed, short black bars on a white background marked a decisive step away from the reproduction of nature and spatial illusion, towards a non-representational, surface-bound painting style. Fernández takes these elementary geometric forms, which Mondrian originally derived from nature, and ties them back to nature. This involves the interrelation between geometry and perception, as well as one of the central concepts of concrete-constructivist art: that geometry is to be understood as a universal form of expression for all phenomena.

Like in many other works by Fernández, in 2iPM009 it is also the accompanying sound of an act of nature which choreographs the changes in the geometric forms: in synchrony with the rhythm of the intensifying sound of rainfall, the dots and lines become denser, forming a mesh of lines, expressed most pulsatingly in claps of thunder. This also bears a resemblance to the installation works by the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto (1923–2005), which directly incorporate the public. From the 1960s onwards, Soto developed walk-through room installations ("Pénétrables") comprising transparent nylon threads which hang down and also evoke analogies to "threads of rain". In Fernández's installation, what sounds like the recording of a real rainstorm is actually an acoustic work by the Slovenian choir "Perpetuum Jazzile", who use percussion – hand, body and voice – to create the large-scale synesthetic scenario of a powerful act of nature.

Magdalena Fernández studied graphic design at the Neumann Foundation's Design Institute in Caracas and worked from 1985 to 1993 in Caracas and Milan. She was represented in the Venezuelan pavilion at the 53rd Biennale di Venezia in 2009 and solo exhibitions in her honour have been realised internationally, e.g. in Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas (2006) and CIFO – Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami (2006). Her works have also been shown in group exhibitions in important institutions such as the Drawing Center, New York (2006) and the Miami Art Museum (2004). The exhibition at Haus Konstruktiv is the first occasion on which Fernández's work can be seen in Switzerland.

Christina von Rotenhan
Haus konstruktiv
Zúrich, 2010
german version