13th Shanghai Biennale 2018, Meet Gallery Prague, 2020

Watercolour paper, acrylic, wood frame for canvas, custom made zig-zag wall structure and blue filtered light. 6x140x190 cm panels, total length 8mt. Sequence from dark lila-grey coloured pollutants to the deep clear blue sky.

Enclosed within the private atmosphere of a cloying fog, one yearns for a breeze that would disclose the landscape and relieve a sense of isolation. Floating along the walls of the space a series of painted panels carry the visitor through a subtle colour gradient, ranging from clear sky blue to a darkening greyscale of atmospheric pollutants. Traditionally screens are painted with landscapes, sometimes seen through mist. Ruiz-Tagle’s Atmospheric Pollution Series foregrounds the visual density of the air itself by intensifying its hues within monochromatic disks, whose saturated centres seem to evaporate outwards towards imperceptible limits, as though the pigments had been delivered to the screens by the wind itself. Seeking to bring the image into focus, one’s gaze sinks instead into its evanescent surface. The effect is dizzying. Isolating the visual delight of being immersed in a cloud from the intoxicating effects of breathing heavily polluted air, the series evokes both smog engulfing global cities and the ethereal fog of the camanchaca, an ultra-fine mist that sweeps over the Chilean coastline in winter. In its mesmerising aesthetic ambiguity, the work sustains a space of contemplation within our troubled atmosphere.

Text by Dehlia Hannah, PhD Philosopher and Curator.