mixed media, 2011

Enrico Nagel’s Second Sight series unveils a sombre departure from his previous approach to image creation. In earlier works the artist pieced together fragments of images clipped from his vast collection of magazines to create vibrant collages. While Nagel’s new experimental technique remains intentionally unclear, a certain process is revealed from an examination of the work. Acting as a sly magus, the artist appropriates and deforms magazine photo shoots through the use of fire and water.
His unique technique has not only left smudgy layers of soot and watermarks, but has also warped the two-dimensional pages into three- dimensional objects. In this series of black and white works, portions of the image are obscured, causing something unwholesome to emerge from the once chaste magazine pages. In the work Second Sight #2 three adolescent figures loiter in front of an indistinct post- war apartment complex. The faces of two of the figures sitting on the low wall are blackened, their hands resting docilely in their laps.

The artist’s distortion of the third figure’s features causes his once innocent smile to surface as a ruthless grin, implying an eerie yet sensual perversion.
In many of the works lone male figures, often shirtless, have portions or their entire face darkened, burned away, stealing their identity and delivering them as a fragment of our selves. What was once a model posing for a picture becomes a Jungian archetype of the collective consciousness. The effect is uncanny, similar to that of coming across a box of forgotten photos left to the elements of a grandparent’s attic.
Nagel creates his shadowy depictions by enacting a subtle deception, which culminates in an evocative remix of what was once unremarkable imagery. Contained within Nagel’s newest works is a dark physical potency, or as E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote in his 1816 short story “The Sandman,” if we yield ourselves up to these images, they have the power to “draw within us some strange form, which the external world has thrown our way.”

Alicia Reuter - Berlin, 2011