Topic: Chaos

“I feel like a primitive man before a world that exceeds me, but, in this case, ‘the excess of object’ is not natural but cultural; I feel like a fetish maker between a crumbling culture and another that has still not announced itself as such; as a mirror that is facing the ghost of a dead man and the future latency of an unborn child. And I feel that way because I feel I am a Latin American artist in the second half of the 20th century.”

I wrote this in 1975 for the prologue of my exhibition with which I went back to painting after nine years of withdrawal. That phrase, in a sense, linked my past with what I envisioned for the future. And I still believe in its validity, despite our being in the 21st century already. The word “chaos” is not included, but it is in a latent state, and I believe it is the driving force of all my production, since my first exhibition in 1959 until now.


The concept of chaos refers to that which is elusive, and which changes beyond our awareness. Chaos, in this sense, and in itself, is the order of what is vital in permanent state of transformation. At the very time it seems to establish in time as an order, there starts a new change.


If we call chaos everything outside our usual standards, those that we use to arrive at a general view of the world, a view we claim is unalterable (and that’s why we call it “order”)—that is to say: everything we feel as a challenge to our concept of reality—we understand why the evil genies that lived in the caves of the Caucasus went by the same name.

 If we live permanently in a changing structure, we can say that we live in chaos. But right there, with that usage, the word is negative for the defenders of a certain order, and realist for those who, at the end of the day, accept the word to involve every contradictory element of a reality. These, even when they are opposites, are still part of the same whole. That which is part of a whole keeps a coherence with all the other elements, even if they are completely different and diverse. Coherence is, indeed, being elements of the same whole. The unity of what is divergent. When we say chaos, we are saying one and not two: there we have implicit order. We must not confuse unity with oneness. An implicit order is an implicit harmony which, as it is outside of our concept of harmony, we believe is missing.

Chaos is order developing, it is vital order. The other is the one of ideas and prejudices. Chaos, that old bad word, and the true order of things: they are one and the same.

Therefore, chaos exists and does not exist, as it is a permanent transformation it is impossible to pin it down: it is simply the name of our fears of change. In the same way as there is no bogey man, there is no chaos. But it does exist in physics and history in the sense of this phrase by Niels Bohr: “Everything is possible, as long as it is absurd enough.”

Luis Felipe Noé. "Tema: El caos", en Noé. Visiones / Revisiones, Buenos Aires, Museo de la Universidad de Tres de Febrero, 2012