Orders, Expansions, Interactions 

Rodrigo Alonso

At the end of the 19th century, scientific theories about color perception transformed the aesthetic conceptions of a whole generation of artists. If one thinks of color as a perceptual phenomenon – and not as an objective part of reality – its transference to the canvas must obey certain compositional rules that depend upon the observer’s visual perception and not the values of color itself. For the impressionists, there was no color in itself, but color was, rather, the result of interactions that produced a chromaticity resembling the one we find and discern in objects in the world. The work of these artists, therefore, is oriented toward an aesthetic of pictorial representation guided by the logic of human perception.

Yet other artists understand that color can, above all, also be thought of as an artistic expression which in its manifestation depends less upon visual requirements and much more upon certain formal interactions that are at once social, cultural, and historical: thus, the combination of primary colors (red, yellow, blue) may serve as a path toward philosophical asceticism in Mondrian, or a way to declare the end of painting in Rodchenko. Their work is concerned with certain politics of representation, where the latter is the result of values constructed within the symbolic universe of a culture. For them, color may appear without correlation to a referent, as an element of a language, a symbol, or a unit of a system.

A good portion of Osvaldo Romberg’s body of work centers on the analysis and dismantling of the systems of pictorial construction developed between the Renaissance and the avant-gardes.  His work explicitly reveals the structural scaffolding (material, perceptual and cultural) on which our aesthetic appreciation rests. Nevertheless, Romberg feels a particular pull toward those methodical artists who have erected veritable formal orders, following rigorous lines of work, such as Mondrian, Malevich, or Albers.

His work, far from demystifying these masters, clearly reveals the potentiality of the plastic orders in all their dimensions.  Romberg expands that potentiality to the point of placing it in dialogue with other disciplines, such as architecture, literature, and music. His installation The Hanover Color Constellation, 82-83, is a good example. In it, the colors of the color spectrum are spread over the viewing space following a strictly established formal logic: to each point in space there corresponds a tonality as an objective datum, a truth about color. Here, once more, this ceases to be a mere given of reality and reveals itself to be an element capable of modeling spaces, rhythms, and concepts; connecting art, the present, cultural heritage, and life.


Osvaldo Romberg

Romberg has an extensive career as curator and is Senior Curator at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia. He is also a professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, where he a founded a center for experimental cinema, video and media art.

 He has exhibited widely as an artist at institutions including the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Sudo Museum, Tokyo; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Jewish Museum, New York; the XLI Venice Biennial, Israel Pavilion; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires; and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven