Scarcity of means and gestures constitutes the basis of Sergio Verastegui's reflection regarding the question of the relationship to reality. His works are to be considered as annotations, as forms of writing close to fragment. The rudimentary appearance of Sergio Verastegui's works, made of poor materials, rebus or of salvage elements, could permit a comparison with Arte Povera. Nevertheless, the artist's approach is not the same, it is not about a guerrilla against the consummation society, but an expression of a « new poverty », organizing in an unexpected and casually fortuitous manner poetic encounters between different objects and materials. Bringing together a strong material presence and conceptualism, Sergio Verastegui's works appear as fragments of realities extracted from a torn-up world.
Verastegui willingly quotes Alain Badiou with regards to his own work : "The importance lies not in knowing what one has forgotten but in understanding what has left its mark on us". De-contextualized and re-contextualized, the fragment-traces that are the components of his installations, if they do not lose their original quality as vectors of meaning, readily adopt others.
Of Peruvian origin, Sergio Verastegui lives in Paris after having studied at the School of visual arts of Rio de Janeiro and at Ecole nationale supérieure d'art Villa Arson in Nice.
Born in 1981 in Lima
Lives and works in Paris
DNSEP à la Villa Arson, Nice
Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro
(S)CRYPTE, Galerie Thomas Bernard, Paris, France
Transpoème, Atelier Vortex, Dijon, France
QUASI-CRISTAL, La Tôlerie, Clermont-Ferrand, France
Skelettons, La Métive, Moutier-d'Ahun, France
Pellejos Sueltos, Salón, curators : Tiago de Abreu Pinto & Francesco Giaveri, Madrid, Spain
Dead Eyes Opened, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris
°°°°°°°LINES EYES LIES°°°°°°°, sp-arte 2015, São Paolo
Skins, grids & drop drawings (1), Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE
Skins, grids & drop drawings (2), Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE
ART-O-RAMA, invited artist, Friche Belle de Mai, La Cartonnerie, Marseille
Coïncidence(s), CAPC - Musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, France
De fils ou de fibres, Abbaye Saint André - Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France
Sculpter (faire l'atelier), La Criée, Beaux-Arts, FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, France
La voz que se oye / deja oir, Museo Amano, curator: Gerardo Chez-Maza, Lima, Peru
La chaise vide,Villa Belleville, Paris, France
Intoto 6, Fondation d'entreprise Ricard, Paris, France
BIENALSUR, National Museum of Fine-Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Micro salon #7, galerie l'inlassable, Paris
Agora, collectif 2a1, Galerie R-2, Paris
Intoto 5, Paris, France
L'Artothèque et le FRAC au musée, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de Guéret, Guéret
Accrochage #1, with Fernanda Gomes, Galerie Emmanuel Hervé invited at galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris, France
Thirthy Shades of white, galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris, France
The Past is the Past, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE
Not really really, Frédéric de Goldschmidt Collection, Brussels
mi casa tu casa, Casa Imelda, Mexico City
L'Artothèque au Musée, Guéret, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de Guéret, Guéret
Dust: The plates of the present, February 2013-July 2015, Baxter St/Camera Club of New York, New York
Stranger Than Paradise, CP5, Paris
Odradek, Les Instants Chavirés, Montreuil
Flatland, un plateau de sculptures, MAMCO, Geneva
Quelque chose à vous dire, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE
Les Ruines Circulaires, Meetfactory, Prague
Carne da minha perna, galerie Emmanuel Hervé, Paris, France
ART-O-RAMA, Marseille International Fair of Contemporary Art, La Friche Belle de Mai, La Cartonnerie, Marseille
Salon International Jeune Création, Centquatre Paris, France
Un Espace, La Marbrerie. Montreuil, France
Pas Encore (Berdaguer & Péjus, Jorge Méndez Blake, Sergio Verastegui, Michael Wilkinson), Galerie Sultana, Paris
Engrammes, Galerie 22,48m2, Paris
E, I know it begins with E, North End Studios, Detroit
Pinta London 2012 The Modern & Contemporary Latin American Art Show, Galerie Bendana-Pinel, London
Iles et Océans, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris
Une Vente Aux Enchères, Mains d'Oeuvres, Saint Ouen
Hutte, Hold-Up, Paris
Musik fur Kreisverkehre & Sculptures for Rondabouts, Golden Pudle Club, Hambourg
Cette année là..., Galerie de La Marine, Nice
Hein ?!, Centre National d'Art Contemporain de la Villa Arson, Nice
Bal Tragique, Centre National d'Art Contemporain de la Villa Arson, Nice
Opus Magnum, Galerie des Bains Douches, Marseille
54eme édition du Salon de Montrouge, Montrouge
Opération Tonerre, Mains d'Oeuvres, Saint Ouen
United Artists, Galerie 10 RD, Nice
La Métive, residence in partnership with the LMB de Felletin, FRAC-Artothèque Limousin and Musée de la Sénatorerie de Guéret, Moutier d'Ahun, France
Casa Imelda, Mexico City
Meetfactory Residency, Prague
2010 - 2012
Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris
Résidence Bleu Fixe / Les Charpentiers de la Corse
Notes for a shell, with Tiago de Abreu Pinto in the program of ART-O-RAMA, Marseille
We Dance Round in a Ring and Suppose with Yasmina Hatem, Saint Ouen, France
Prix Show-Room Art-O-Rama, Marseille
Prix Jeune Création SYMEV, Paris
Sculpter (faire l'atelier), La Criée, Beaux-Arts, FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, France
Roland Barthes contemporain, Magali Nachtergael, Max Milo editions, Paris
Interview with Frédéric Bonnet, Catalogue «A single line which is invisible and unceasing», P editions
Engrammes, exhibition catalogue, editions 22,48m2
Quinze plus un = quinze, by Eric Mangion, catalogue of 54th Salon de Montrouge
Cnap - Centre national des arts plastiques: support to an artistic research/production
Artothèque du Limousin
CNAP - Centre National des Arts Plastiques
The sculptural situations of Sergio Verastegui, a reflection on the question of remains
Of Peruvian origin, Sergio Verastegui now lives and works in Paris. After having studied at the School of Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro and at the National School of Fine Arts Villa Arson in Nice, he started a thesis in 2011 at the University Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis, under the direction of Jean-Philippe Antoine, a professor and researcher at Paris VIII, as well as a philosopher, an art critic and a visual artist. His thesis is entitled Words and Forms: the link between the book and the exhibition space from Marcel Broodthaers to today. What relationship is there between Sergio Verastegui's artistic practice and his theoretical study? Does pursuing this thesis allow him to have more perspective on his creative work? We contacted the artist by email to go into this more in depth but he never answered. However, he seems to express himself easily on his work, as shows the text that he wrote for his personal blog.
When asked about his influences, he did not comment either. The presentation text of his exhibition at Jeune Création mentions three artists as references: Bruce Nauman, Mike Nelson and Manfred Pernice. We can most probably make a parallel between his installations, his way of placing elements in the space, his salvage and recycling of raw elements with Nelson and Pernice's practice.
The central theme to his work seems to be his use of "remains". Bits of cardboard boxes, fragments of wood, metal cans, etc. Sergio Verastegui salvages what he finds, in order to give it a second chance, a new life. These poor materials become the substance of "sculptural situations" and installations that he lays out in the exhibition space. The artist talks about the importance of remains and the use he makes of them in his pieces. He salvages "fragments" of objects and materials that interest him. Based on what criteria? It is a mystery... Maybe we could talk about an encounter between the artist and these bits of material. How does he preserve them? Sergio Verastegui talks about storage, he probably put a system in place to keep them before using them again. It is mainly raw materials, wood, cardboard, but also metal objects, plastic, wire, etc. He sometimes paints them or ties them together before arranging them with one another. It is poor materials, that give a precarious and fragile aspect to his artworks. For the Jeune Création exhibition, he used bits of parquet floor, placed on the ground or in piles, cardboard boxes in which he placed a mirror, string, a sculpted hand, amongst other things. He also assembled some planks, that resembled incomplete pieces of furniture. On one of them, he placed two squashed empty metal cans. He therefore mixes raw materials and objects with a more elaborate appearance (fake hands, cans, mirror) placed on the first ones like pedestals. Deprived from their primary function, showcased like relics, they attract attention, acquiring a specific interest.
Following a structured process, the artist creates works where each element is important and participates in the balance of the whole. He details this process in several steps. He first talks about "stabilising isolated micro-accidents" that are unintentional, that occur without his intervention. He then looks to favour the creation of new accidents, by arranging in the space the elements that make up his work. Through the explanation of these two steps, we understand the importance that Sergio Verastegui gives to chance during the elaboration of his sculptural situations, but also the mental construction that they need. All this chance and reflection balance themselves out, creating artworks that are thought through but also dependent on chance. When talking about the installation and the arrangement of the fragments they are made of, Sergio Verastegui indeed explains the importance of prior preparation, at once mental and material. The Jeune Création website published a photograph of the artist's notebook, showing a preparatory drawing for the layout of the artwork's parts in the space. The artist creates an economy of means, first because all the materials he uses are poor, and second because he installs them by sparing his actions, thanks in part to this preparation.
Sergio Verastegui grants particular importance to the space in which he exhibits, the latter determines the arrangement of the different parts of his installations, that one could qualify as site specific artworks. In his installations, the floor has an elementary place and resounds like a territory, the fragments often being placed on the ground. It gives the impression that his artwork is set in the ground and that Verastegui creates a sort of inter-ground and an inter-space. His installations are generally made up of a small amount of elements, Sergio Verastegui doesn't overload the space, his works are laid out in order to leave space for the spectator to walk through.
His exhibition at Jeune Création gave us the occasion to measure all of this. The pieces that were displayed were created by the artist between 2011 and 2013. He arranged them in the space by taking over and appropriating it with his reflection, in a harmonious and poetic layout. He used a large amount of elements of parquet floor, placing them parsimoniously and not covering the entire floor. It looked unstable, but the spectator was invited to walk around amongst these fragments. This airy layout enhanced each element and, even if some attracted more attention, none seemed squashed by another. This configuration gave the impression of entering the artist's world, as if one had access to his studio. The spectator is encouraged to walk freely between the different parts of his artworks, without being guided. It is up to him/her to find his way, to attempt to understand these sculptural situations, to listen to what they have to say. He/She is invited to take part, to interact with the different pieces. He can let his/her perception of the installations run free. With their labyrinth-like aspect, they remind us of the creations of British artist Mike Nelson, whilst also being much more ethereal.
Through the elaboration of his artworks, Sergio Verastegui looks to create a dialogue with the spectator, getting them to interact. He attempts to establish a guiding principle, that gives direction but also leaves one free to interact with what one sees, without a speech being essential. The artist expresses in this way the importance of the preparation of his work, well thought out despite the impression of bareness or simplicity that it may present, and despite the importance given to accidents.
Thread has a more concrete place in some of his works. Verastegui sometimes uses it to link elements to one another, or to define a regular outline, like in Espanto del futuro, the piece that he presented in the "Engrammes" exhibition in the Parisian gallery 22.48m² in 2012. The artist mentions his inspiration of archaeological procedures, namely that of grid representation. The influence of archaeological tools on his work shows all the importance he gives to remains, what they may become and the history they contain. Sergio Verastegui does not only create a dialogue between his artworks and the spectator, but he establishes above all a conversation between the elements that constitute them, that seem to exchange. What would happen if we changed one of the object's positions' Would it create another conversation, another dialogue? We can link his will to create a dialogue, to a discursive use of fragments, each element having a history and living a new one by interacting with what surrounds it. His artworks have conceptual qualities and seem to act as the metaphor of a disintegrated reality. Like an archaeologist, Sergio Verastegui gives particular importance to the trace that these objects keep of their past, of their inherent history. His pieces are therefore strongly linked to the idea of memory, as shown by the ones exhibited at the gallery 22,48m². They seem to put the souvenirs held within each object chosen by the artist in resonance with the spectator's memory, stimulated by their view.
As well as establishing an interaction between his artworks and the spectator, Sergio Verastegui sets up a discursive exchange between his different creations and the reuse of the fragments that constitute it. His installations only exist as such in the exhibition space, they are ephemeral. They make up a sort of precarious and transitory micro-universe. The artist however is interested in their persistence in other spaces and in other forms, for example in his studio and in his storage space. But what is the status of these other venues? Sergio Verastegui talked of how one day one of his artworks was broken, and he salvaged a part that he found interesting in its waste form and kept it in a box, before using it again for another artwork. He then started to salvage fragments of his sculptural situations to use them again. Thus, he qualifies his art as auto-cannibalistic, feeding on itself and becoming "a reconstitution stemming from destruction". His artworks survive in this manner, evolve, can also be pursued thanks to this recycling. The artist says he is formulating a posthumous vocabulary, partly linked to his reflection on death, on what happens to the "material" afterwards. What does one do with what remains? Sergio Verastegui ponders on this and asks the question through his art. He explains that he is attempting to respond to the "postmodernist stalemate". According to him, he places himself, simply by looking into this, in "today's world' by questioning the concept of crisis. What is a crisis and what does it consist in? The crisis of a space, an idea, or a body for example? The crisis of meaning? I like the forms of passage, temporary, open and indefinite." This question of remains, their future, their transformation and their recycling is effectively one of the great concerns of our era. That is why, according to the artist, this corresponds with a position that is at once "historical, political and artistic". For him, this questioning is a real position and a commitment. Through his artworks, he seems to invite us to think for ourselves as to what can become of these remains, encouraging us in some way to take part in this crusade.