Photograph of one of the works in Roberto Chabet's solo exhibition, 'Untitled 2005 (Notes on Johannes Vermeer),' at Mag:net Gallery, Paseo, 5 - 26 July 2005.
The work is composed of four neon signs - 'The room,' 'The window,' 'The letter,' and 'The map' - which are taken from recurring details found in Vermeer's paintings. They are part of a large painting onto which several small paintings, each with an embedded harmonica, are attached. The painting is based on a photograph of the basement of Pupin Hall at Columbia University, where the first experiment on nuclear fission in the US was held in 1939, which Chabet also used as the image for the invitation to the exhibition.
The work is part of an installation, also referred to as Untitled 2005 (Notes on Johannes Vermeer), which also includes the photograph and a text on the experiment conducted by scientist Enrico Fermi, attached on two separate clipboards. Other works in the installation are a pale blue painting accompanied by a conch shell, which is painted in the same colour, and another work composed of GI sheets and an open leather trunk filled with mirrors laid on a carpet, facing a neon sign that spells 'Vermeer.'
Prior to this work, Chabet also completed a trilogy of works which pays homage to Dutch artists. In this work, Chabet deconstructs and reconfigures Vermeer’s world into a tableau that meditates on 'the act of looking and the complex and overlapping processes of interpretation and perception.'
The press release of the exhibition states, 'the act of looking never fails to posit dilemmas in art such that instead of searching for solutions; it gives birth to whole new movements. The reconfigured objects is a reenactment of their own history with its own perceived space congealing into a tableau of painting. The installation is an emblem of a world transformed into an image beholden to its maker.'