We are often guilty of acknowledging our limits before we have tried to break through them, to admit defeat to ourselves without even trying. Pedro Gramaxo doesn’t know his limits, nor does he claim to know yours. That won’t stop him pushing them to breaking point though.
His knowledge of art is admirable. Movements, techniques and artists are all subject to interrogation. The end goal is simple yet profound – to understand them. When it comes to art itself though, it’s less about understanding where it is, how it is and why it is. Rather it’s about what it can be.
Normal conversation can range from set designs for singers that he’s recently worked on, or food. But it often returns to art. It’s less a formal attempt at understanding it than an endless discourse of philosophical meanderings. The definition of art, although numerous, doesn’t lie at the source of these conversations. It’s more how the term can be manipulated to straddle the line between science, psychology and nature whilst remaining a distinct category unto itself.
He isn’t a gardener, nor is he a psychoanalyst. His interest in form and light comes from a background in architecture. The vast array of subjects that inform the discipline is the topic of a great many books, as is art. It’s an epic undertaking to comprehend, to invest and to reinvent. Yet this is a challenge relinquished by Gramaxo. It’s all about experiments and seeing what people can do, what they can perceive. How far is too far until it stops being art?
It makes sense that Gramaxo’s foray into art is as it is. The link from architecture is clear to see – the discipline is about utilising space and light for optimal practicality. With his art he utilises space and light for the purpose of experience and perception. “I believe that 2D representation has reached its full potential”, he says and with that in mind made the switch to more spacial concerns.
The group of artists that influence him don’t have a collective name – there is no movement as such. Doug Wheeler and James Turrell are the main proponents of the artistic study that concerns light and space. Turrell, with a degree in perceptual psychology, studied the Ganzfeld effect whereby perception becomes altered when one becomes exposed to an unstructured, uniform stimulation field – an effect that can provoke hallucinations.
Granting people the correct conditions to experience something entirely new, that goes beyond words and into a sort of physical experience, is at the core of these artists work. That they have an emotional impact and are pleasing to look at is what takes them out of the realm of science and into the arms of art.
Infinite space means infinite possibilities. Exploring such a subject weaves through many subjects – philosophy, science, astronomy, religion. Each has their own explanation of the spaces and their significance. The artwork of Gramaxo, like Wheeler and Turrell, looks to define and interrogate space in an artistic sense - this gives them a lot of scope, yet equal limitations.
Another interesting dimension to this exploratory art form is the juxtaposition between its dependence on technology to work and the struggles that technology faces in documenting it true-to-fact. It’s an experiential form of art – immersive and inexplicable. Instagrammable, it is not. So much so that Wheeler prohibited phones for his PSAD Synthetic Desert III installation. The profound silence he was trying to replicate meant existing in a kind of one-ness with the environment.
The spaces Gramaxo creates are indoor observatories into a universe that isn’t infinite or random, but entirely controlled. What’s the difference though? If neither can be explored, neither can be documented – then how much can we ever know? If the pieces manage to give you the same feeling as you can only get from gazing up at the sky at night – then you’re on the right track and so is the artist. Advancing technology will set these artists free, yet it may be their form's greatest hurdle to date.
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