TRF, Helmand province, 2013
Diptych, oil on canvas on wood
Encaustic and oil on canvas on wood
13 x 18.1 cm
22.5 x 22.5 cm

Produced between 2010 and 2014, the period during which Alÿs has been travelling to Afghanistan, this series of paintings presents a combination of traditional landscapes and color bars leitmotifs, which became replaced by Tactical Recognition Flashes (colored patches worn by soldiers on their upper left sleeve) following his embed with UK Task Force Helmand in the Spring of 2013. Whenever Alÿs returned to Mexico City, the activity of obsessively creating these works – which deceptively look like abstract geometric paintings – became an indispensable counterpart to his travels in Afghanistan. Whether they reflect his difficulties in translating the daily reality of war into any medium, or whether they simply became a therapeutic exercise in order to digest the flood of information received upon each visit, the viewer can decide.

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