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The heart of our world

Adding up a long series of eventful processes, Zagert causes the advent of visions which the artist himself is the first to be surprised at. After exercising his powerful floating attention in the intense dialogue he maintains with the suggestions and enticements proposed by forms, he finally succeeds in saving his work from disarray. If at times his techniques may make us think of the "fortuitous encounters" propitiated by surrealism, the artist's own poetics set them in a different register: a geological background where earth, world and landscape are fragments of apparitions whirling and intertwining  like words from dissimilar languages.
The variety of forms used result in a dense labyrinth of relations that condensate a plurality of interpretations. This is a particular territory loaded with ramifications, as the procedures used by the artist make the plane a container for his provocations –investigations that concatenate, link, explore connections, bond particles and finally evolve into an organic-inorganic world that appears before us not in its regular guise, but as an undreamed of itinerary in the journey from their material to the heart of our world.

 Raúl Santana / Art Critic   


Cosmologies of a passer-by      

The journey to which Rodolfo Zagert's work invites us turns out an unusual experience. His steps go back and forth on a dance with texture and chromatic findings that lead the observer into a dimension where nothing flows without a reason. There is a possibility that the artist himself is not fully aware of the implications beyond the rationale of his compositions. There is an area where the maker loses awareness to become a mediator between the unconscious and the action of materializing his art.
Zagert comes from the world of reason, but nonetheless, over time, he has engaged in a plentiful exercise that led him to free flight. This free flight is, perhaps, what allows uncovering, not without bewilderment, the multiple infinite worlds he has dived into during his journey to the present continent of his paintings.
Surfaces mixing earth, sand and mineral geographies seem to invite to captivating strolls amid a moon-like silence, or to float in an infinite vacuum taking a peaceful flight surrounded by far-away and inapprehensible scintillations.
At other times, Zagert's language is a string of signals summing up encrypted markings, lone footprints and muffled voices chanting hymns, mesmerizing melodies that disallow walking away. An elegant choreography of sensations that gain impulse, one after the other, in front of canvases exuding lyricism. Zagert knows about it. So does his palette. The cold Germany --as Katja Michel used to refer to it-- has settled in his way of looking at things, with colossal depths, a vision that later on was tinted with strikes of pure Mediterranean air after his period in Mallorca: sky, rock, sand, sea. Today, his painting summarizes that unique twofold character that resolves itself among transparencies, hiding veils and sparks that open a tempered dialogue in which the observer listens with intent and allows those voices to fill the air.
A true magician is before us. His voyages are revealed in new surfaces and allude, in some way, to Walter Benjamin's concepts in his unavoidable essay "Illuminations," where he states that "For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art."

Patricia Delmar / Writer and poet, member of the Madrid Association of Art Critics


Getting lost in space

Lyrical abstraction, with its long and fecund presence in our visual arts, has in Rodolfo Zagert a voice that is different; very much his own. The first thing that captures your attention in his most recent production is the poetic quality of his canvases, a state of grace that imposes itself over any technical or formal consideration. Let's say, first of all, that Zagert lived abroad for almost four decades and has returned to set residence, for good, just a few years ago. Also, that his painting interests are diverse and completely eclectic, and hence, he can go from abstraction to figuration almost without transition.  However, where he feels most at ease, where he is most his own self, is in that universe where his work represents an interplay of subtle chromatic harmonies. In pure abstraction. Whether right over the canvas or using translucent fabric, his soft colors seem to expand out of the frame, get lost in space, disappear into a wholeness beyond their factual condition, that of its own plastic matter.  Over this laboriously elaborated background, Zagert, at times, places small fragments of net and contrasting shapes. And at times, not always, a minute figurative detail, as a sort of intrusion, of alien intervention: a pair of holding hands, a hardly perceptible human silhouette lost in the ordered chaos of his composition.
These almost floating elements, are not there by chance: they bring a tension into the compositional structure and act as ideograms that provide the canvas with an unexpected density and a slightly insinuated quality of a message.
One of his paintings is his imagined "Instant post-Big Bang." And that title is clarified: "fragment"*. It is indeed, a synecdoque; the part that represents the whole. But... how do you go about clipping the infinity without ending up with something that is, in turn, another infinity? The never-ending conflict of painting with its own nature. The canvas, as a limit, is the challenge of art and artist: a territory which Rodolfo Zagert penetrates in order to search for other worlds, those that live within him.

 Alberto Giudici/ Art Critic and Curator

* see picture Nº…


Mysterious magnetism
Watching morosely Rodolfo Zagert's paintings awakens a strange and disturbing feeling, a mixture of vertigo and pleasure.
In his works, full of a mysterious visual magnetism, ambiguity is a constant: there is harmony and stillness, but also chaos and movement.
There is an acceptance of visual art standards, but also persistent transgression. There are apparently figurative elements, but, paradoxically, they are also pure abstractions.
The profoundness of many of his abstractions seems to touch the infinity. Some of them even suggest cosmic visions, to the point that certain shapes, rich in textures and chromatics, and well-differentiated from their surroundings, may be read as meteorites.
Zagert shows no hesitations to express himself. He knows the language of his art in depth and he masters very special techniques. He knows how to mix them and enhance them with great skill, to finally obtain a most original result that is a true gift to a sensitive observer.
Javier Baliña/ Gallerist


Dense material load

The quality that sets Rodolfo Zagert's work characteristic is not large sizes, but the thick and dense material load with which they were made. Earth, sand, minerals and acrylic evenly spread over the canvases, generating veils and interstices that prompt our curiosity and entice us to explore inside them. In some of those works, spectral imprints set a contrast with the abstraction wrapping up his scenes.
'Getting into' and 'exploring' are the terms needed to speak about the 'landscapes' that the artist's flow has created. It is not by mere chance that his works' titles refer to the "place" or the "moment that made possible the place" that they evoke. Thus, the titles and the presence (or absence) of trails, define environments that relate to the social, anthropological and scientific aspects of the worlds residing in the human unconscious. Worlds that Zagert succeeds in bringing to the conscience by representing them on his canvases.
As if abandoning rationality and letting oneself be taken adrift were in resonance with Georges Bataille's assertion: "The project is the prison which I want to escape from."

Viviana Fischler/ Art Critic


Ethical Resonances

Being art the most beautiful of all possible testimonial acts, Rodolfo Zagert's work is a profound and disturbing development referred to humankind. A vision of its fugacity. In his view of the world, human beings become a symbol, because like Promethean archetypes, they are the figures that isolate themselves, overwhelmed by a space without references, in this artist's paintings. The tactile treatment, the use of low tones in a palette of ochres and earthy colors, vermilions and grayish blues, make up textures of a dense plastic quality in which men become immersed while entering hostile geographies with skies deprived of constellations to admire or horizons to go across. This desolate vision is close to a certainty of impossibility. Although the artist senses that essential knowledge does exist, because the universe cannot be just a reflection of himself, as a man he feels overwhelmed by an existential uncertainty that no sphinx can unveil. That of complete knowledge. "Our look --says biologist Laborit-- falls again within the limited earth horizon surrounding us. We, then, imagine our globe wandering and spinning in space and we attempt to calm ourselves down with the presence of an olive tree with its leaves trembling in the nocturnal atmosphere; with the buzz of a city that works and suffers below our feet; with the presence of our brothers, of our species enclosed in the same cosmic vessel, which doesn't seem to concern us in any case. We feel comforted by the teeming life that surrounds us. Rodolfo Zagert senses that much and the evolution of his work is like the message sent in a bottle that will be cast out into the sea. A message of love for life. Because the melancholy for light, in the artist, is an enlightening revelation. It acts like the Capdepera Lighthouse. It pries into the darkness and reveals reefs.

There we have, then, the seminal fruit that sprouts in the contemplation of a work of art. It creates bridges that are dialogues, teaches meditation, uncovers the road that leads to the City of Life which Berenson dreamt about when admiring the Florence of the Renaissance. The history of art is nothing but the construction of sections of that road that starts with creative emotion and, crossing roaring territories, lead the artist, Man, that is, to the desired suburbia. And it is this sheer illuminating perception what radiates from Rodolfo Zagert's work. In no manner whatsoever, do those amorously constructed paintings operate as pain killers or tranquilizers. Their appearance is deeper and, for that reason, disturbing. They reach the spectator through a silence full of resonances that Zagert has been developing in the solitude of his atelier. And that silence full of resonances is the artist's sensitive discussion in his passionate defense of light. A witness to the flesh, in Camus' words, "he is on the side of life, not of death." In a world like ours, that imparts death sentences, the artist --Rodolfo Zagert in this case-- "maintains his testimony of that which refuses to die in man. Nobody is an enemy, save the executioner. A unique vocation for dialogue that creates --for him and from him-- the most overwhelming of fraternities. They say to the artist: look at the miserable condition of the world. What are you doing about it? To this cynical extortion the artist responds: nothing; I'm immersed in it. Who among you can say the same?"

These are the reflections that Rodolfo Zagert's paintings elicit in me. Like in a ritual, the creator sustains a dialogue with the spectator, through his work. His actions, his doing-good, reach, then, ethical resonances. He ends up leaving behind the territory of solitude and emigrates from cities populated by mistrust. He marches towards the light.
Cándido Ballester/ Painter and Writer


Exquisite textures

The perception of an empty space, without references, is the first thing that catches your attention in his works of exquisite textures. Sensitively constructed, his canvases reveal a unique enthusiasm for matter.

Fermín Fevre/ Art Critic


Matter that vibrates

Zagert's works are made employing mixed techniques on various supports. A sensitive abstraction prevails in his images, with the addition of collages here and there or a small human figure.

What many, with similar styles, attempt without any success because of repetition and at times boring moments, Rodolfo Zagert attains with grace, conveying climates of high poetic tension.

The above is proved by the titles of his works, as suggestive as his paintings or similar production, reminiscent of Klee who, not by chance, while a Swiss national, set residence in Germany.

Zagert does not indulge in easy formulae; in every instance we feel in front of a different experience, the original results of which invite us to enjoy the pleasure of the never ending show that visual artworks offer. In other words, Zagert is an artist and as such, he transforms inert materials into vibrating matter with the magic touch of life, which, upon reflection, shall make us give the word 'matter' a meaning of something imbued with spirituality. Walking around this exhibition does produce an unusual pleasure.

Rafael Squirru/ Art Critic



When Rodolfo Zagert's works  are placed before you, you inevitably feel as though you've received a punch to your jaw. Just as it happens in literature with some of Hemingway's or Bukowski's stories, Zagert's art does not beat you on points but by knockout.  His works show a world of creatures that resemble Sabato's or Soriano's characters, always in strange balances.
With these materials –and an inner mishmash that I imagine in unstoppable effervescence-- Zagert draws and paints works of a suggestive, moving beauty.
The work of this son of Misiones transplanted to Europe appears to me unusually captivating and original.
  Mempo Giardinelli/ Writer


Surprise after surprise

Zagert's work comes to us like a gift, touching our emotions with its freshness, its sensitive language; conquering us with that credible vocation of the architect-painter that passes on to us a piquant sense of humor. And also, with his excellence in the skills of constructing and deconstructing the illusory space, of texturizing his canvas  --a fragment of landscape treated with great pictorial sensitivity.
Worth of note are his most luminous works, streaks of sky or sand, geographies at times celestial, at times earthly, on which the view of the artist goes gliding.
A look from "above", a privileged view, that of Zagert's, who travels in a personal journey across a space of culture which, challenging our "preconceived digressions," takes us off the road, surprise after surprise in its incredible versatility, to the discovery of a very peculiar way to look at the world, out of unsuspected windows.

  Pilar Ribal/ Art Critic and Curator


Wise balancing

Rodolfo Zagert employs the mixed technique, whether on canvas or on paper. On both supports he shows his dexterity, a well-adjusted use of color, which he softens or emphasizes, as he deems fit, resorting to a wise balancing that helps elude the most trodden paths of abstraction. Zagert avoids the risk of falling into this pit hole using the collage, which he handles with confidence and delicacy. This allows for figurative allusions that elicit reflection. That is how he evades a natural leaning to aestheticism because, as Cándido Ballester says, “his work attains an ethical resonance."
Guillermo Whitelow/ Art Critic


An expert in the art of displacement

His work is varied in subject matters and firm in the search for uncertainties which, after a first "shock," usually clear up. However, you could think that what Rodolfo Zagert, an artist deemed eclectic, creates are forms of displacement. Always displacements; always fresh displacements.
Not only because of his journeys do we say that Zagert works on displacements. Nor is it because he is a creator born in the province of Misiones, educated in art and architecture in Buenos Aires, the recipient of a scholarship in Germany and a resident of that country and Palma de Mallorca for over three decades. The main reason is quite another.
Although nonobjective abstraction has been the main language of Zagert, his works show that he is not afraid of resorting to figurative representations when this is demanded by the experiences proposed by each one of his canvases. Those works also show that Zagert does not elude the challenge of taking our view through defying shapes, colors and textures that cannot be avoided, to set up vivid and diverse sensations and ideas.
His creations reveal that we are, in sum, before an artist that pushes --more than leads us—sometimes curious, sometimes hypnotized, around most strange atmospheres, across abstract pieces, figurative details, chromatic harmony interplays, once and again, back and forth. Look attentively at his works, those spaces rough like stone, rocky as a planet, and around them, colorful fragments like traces of an explosion, like wings, like an open proposal of light. A most fertile chaos that deserves being unsnarled.

Published in the newspaper Crítica, Buenos Aires

Innovation in procedures

Zagert governs, above all, the use of creative force, the combination of diverse styles that span from figurative representation to abstractionism, the appropriation of motives belonging in art history and innovation in working procedures.

Zagert's work reveals the fragmentation of everyday worlds which open up to a reflexive configuration of all things human.

In his artworks there is no water, no fire, no earth, no wind, but all the elements are present there. His abstractionism has the virtue of inclusion, maybe because of the intense dialogue it maintains with matter. Those matters do not represent animals or humans; however, they seem to name them in some way. Is this a language of absence? These materials that seem to be flying, detached materials that adhere to our memories, activate the truncated traces of an identity that struggles between nature and technology, between that which is populated and that which is deserted.

The various materials used by Zagert and the innovation of his procedures confirm this tension. His paintings are the result of the maturing of an untiring spirit. They sum up some forty years of experience, combining his knowledge as an architect, his experience with collage, his alternating between figurative and nonfigurative expression, his long stays in Germany and in Spain, and now, his return to our country. An orbit that has made up Zagert's universe.

Idangel Betancourt/ Art Critic



Surprising compositions

There is usually great balance in Rodolfo Zagert's paintings. Floating elements, a sort of aerolites that seem loose and resolved by chance, always end up balancing the chaos brought about by the random use of colors and shapes of abstractionism. Textures, a richness of materials, surprising compositions in the making up of his paintings, even the quality of his palette are all contributed by chance. Zagert tends to order, to balance, to the beauty that emerges from symmetry, a very ancient and always present feature.

Chance, one of the best friends of a painter leaning to the abstract (or of any contemporary artist, whatever his field, as a matter of fact) never is completely itself, actually. You let things happen, yes, but then you try to put some order in them. And it is this order what defines whether or not an abstract work is good, whether or not it is powerful. But while chance marks off the road, it is the work's power, order and balance that set the point of arrival. And that is the point from which the spectator starts to look, which means that the viewing of an abstract work is always retrospective. James Schuyler, the poet who was for a time W.H.Auden's secretary, came to loathe his master because, he said, Austen never developed a criterion for self-criticism, the true mark of an artist. The order I am speaking about here depends precisely on the painter's criterion. Talent you are born with; criteria you develop. And based on those criteria, the artist starts to communicate, through his work, with the spectator and, hence, with the society he lives in.

Zagert lived in Mallorca for fifteen years; a period sufficient for the vivid colors of the Mediterranean to get into his works with clarity. The tones of the preceding twenty years, when he lived in Germany, are softer. Now, with the time he has been back in Buenos Aires, his colors are changing to an intermediate palette. The unmistakable blues, the intense reds, the dazzling ochres are still there; but softer hues are entering in his works, like those of Buenos Aires when it is raining. This openness to the surroundings is one half of the sensitivity; the other half is an openness to your inner self, which, as abstract expressionists have always sustained, has always been the subject matter of their compositions. The analogy of the outer and the inner spaces, which in Zagert occurs thanks to his sensitivity to the colors of his surroundings, is a good expressive resource, an appropriate manner to bring the inside and the outside together. The artist that is open to what is around, has to let himself be carried away by what his environment does, not only to his retina but also to his way of understanding pictorial expression: it is a projection, in an object, of what happens to them.

Quite often,  Zagert's paintings include an element of insularity, the influence that still remains of his life in the Balearic Islands. One of the things that never cease to occur is remembrance. That what we lived, continues to happen to us. This is clear in his paintings that make that slight reference to the isles, or that bring back the intensity of the colors native to them.

Balance in painting consists in upholding, at the same time, that several things are true, even if they are in conflict. And the more so in abstract works, where different elements meet on a same plane, which can even create the illusion of a perspective, no matter how strange this notion can be to abstraction, always so obsessed with bi-dimensionality.

Zagert's work has this special trait: the openness provided by both colors and shapes; and his manner of adding and order, an intelligibility that originates from the emotional, but ultimately, involves the tale you tell to yourself –prompted by the artwork—when attempting to understand it and add it to your own experience. The confrontation of these paintings involves this: living with them, whether for just a moment or for years to come, and telling yourself all the feelings and stories that emanate from the wrinkled, texturized surface and, above all, from the intensity of his colors, whether the most vivid or the most subtle. In abstract art –as such has come to us—intensity is all.

 Roger Colom/ Art Critic


Fascinating vision

With man in the center, Rodolfo Zagert develops a fascinating world view of human fugacity.

 Victoria Verlichak/ Curator and art critic





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