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FERNANDO PRATS

Santiago, Chile  b.1967 

Since the early twentieth century Western painting has striven to find experimental methods that would allow pictorial matter to speak for itself. This tradition first emerged during the first avant-gardes of the 1920s with Paris-based German artist Max Ernst's use of frottage (the action of creating effects by rubbing a pencil on paper placed over a textured object) and was continued during the second avant-gardes of the fifties and sixties by such major figures as the French artist Yves Klein (who used the inked human body or rain to impregnate the surface of the canvas) and the renowned German artist Joseph Beuys, magnetizer of elements such as honey or fat, who championed an intimate reconciliation with nature as the means of bring about a profound transformation of the language of art.

Fernando Prats, the Chilean artist based in Barcelona since 1990, takes us further along this line with an impressive body of work that incorporates new and deeply personal processes for creating natural paintings. He devised a pictorial system far removed from the instruments of the painter, for the purpose of generating images that would activate the pictorial process in unforeseen ways. His intention was to get away from anecdote and the subjectivity of images created by the artist's hand, and enable a living materiality that would 'give voice to nature'. Since then, his pictorial images are graphic entities that flow directly from the energy of matter itself.

The artist has let a geyser of natural hot water that shoots from the ground at more than 4000 meters above sea level imprint its energies on the papers' smoked surfaces (an action made possible by a Guggenheim Fellowship). His surveys in places convulsed by natural disasters such as the journey over several days through the shattered regions to collect physical traces (using frottage) of the earthquake that ravaged a vast area of Chile in 2010-are also part of this intense dialogue of pictorial absorption of the forces of nature, understanding that in them creation and destruction are inseparably linked. With this project Fernando Prats represented his country in the 2011 Chilean Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.