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Art gallery, Valencia (Spain)


Otra visión del arte

Otra visión del arte
Candela Cort
Mayo 2005

Juan Manuel Bonet

"Otra visión del arte"

Doing her own thing Raffia, velvet, hessian, tulle, organza, gauze, metal mesh, brass similar to that used by the old avant-garde sculptors, who Ramón Gómez de la Serna liked so much, lycra, fan structures, oriental chopsticks, buttons and beads, cardboard, silver paper, imitation coral, fake pearls, artificial flowers in abundance, as objects trouvés, sometimes monstrous, for example an enormous orchid… I could continue for some time reeling off these and similar words. The pleasure of words, the pleasure of this specialized lexicon -deep down, of all specialised lexicons, when glimpsed by the layman-, the pleasure of allowing yourself to be carried away by these words in the wind, the pleasure of these materials, the pleasure of discovering the way in which, once used, in a such a new way, by Candela Cort, these materials, and also the words used to designate them, are articulated in a harmonious whole. “There are hardly any right angles in Cort’s pieces”, says Patricia Molins in her text about Cort. It is true. In the repertoire of forms used by Candela Cort, there are spirals, circles and volutes in abundance, as they are found in abundance in certain abstract paintings and sculptures from the 1930s, which were reinterpreted in the 1950s: two very special and very creative periods –above all the former- of art, and without doubt, at the same time, two glorious periods of fashion, to which today’s creators return. The art-fashion connection. In passing I refer to some historic cases of crossover, of fertile dialogue, Casa Sonia in the Madrid of Ultraism, the Elsa Schaiparelli-Dalí collaboration, the illustrators and above all the photographers in Vogue, the Warhol world, the use of bag materials -including the marvellous fish skin called “galuchat” in French- by a heterodox constructivist like César Domela… Fashion in museums, today: it is completely normal that there should be museums dedicated to it, like the one in Madrid that today occupies the site of the former Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art (MEAC), and that we would all like to see grow and develop with projects that correspond to its circumstances. Fine Art Graduate (Faculty of Madrid). Originally a photographer, and still a photographer –and also when the mood takes her, a set designer- of her own creations, contemplated as products and also as a project. Present in the programming of the Vinçon shop and gallery in Barcelona, in the gallery of the Fine Art Circle in Madrid, and in the gallery of the University of Valencia, Tocados del ala (Crazy Headresses), 1995, when it was run by Salvador Albiñana. Collaborator in a meagre opera by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson. Exhibitor, Cabezonadas (Pigheadeddresses), in 2001 with Eduardo Arroyo, also a hatter, in Las Rozas Village. Present, 1993, in the Madrid collective that paid homage to the Dadaist Arthur Cravan. Creator whose work has been described not just by a specialist in fashion of the ability of María Vela Zanetti, who underlined her link with historical avant-garde artists, imagining a retro list of her clients and making Madame Errázuris appear in it, but also by a historian and exhibition organiser as demanding as the aforementioned Patricia Molins. The above list is sufficient, not exhaustive, to say that the connection of the work of Candela Cort, a great figure in the world of fashion, with other fields of culture, and especially with the field of plastic arts, is more than evident, which is reinforced by her catalogues and also by her books, which are so impeccable, with the special seal of Leona. Before personally meeting Candela Cort, her things had caught my eye for a number of years from a distance and I cut out and filed all the pages about her in newspapers and magazines. I mentally catalogued her as a sculptor, as it is the closest thing I had to describe her -in my files, I must confess, there is no section specifically dedicated to fashion- and I said to myself: this elegant, intelligent and subtle creator of modern hats, has the spatial understanding of a sculptor. This intuition has been confirmed and reinforced by two visits to her studio, which is not very far from Barajas, in the green Madrid that her paternal grandfather, the architect and town planner, César Cort, dreamt of. It is a studio crammed with books and catalogues, both about art and fashion, to which we have come once again today, just over a year since our first visit, in order to exclusively contemplate a series of collages that will be exhibited in Valencia, in the Ana Serratosa Gallery. Candela Cort’s way of working, with a lot of space, with a lot of time, a lot of expansive tables that I covet, a lot of drawing pins, a lot of pieces of paper and a lot of samples spread all over, always a work in progress, always a collage, always testing, adding and removing, above all removing, in order to strip it bare and leave it reduced to a minimum of elements, always finding new, unexpected possibilities for materials and objects that she has found and that later are perfectly compatible with the rest of the elements in her presence, always this feverish and sometimes frantic pace that María Vela Zanetti described very well in her second text about her for the Las Rozas catalogue, always constructing in the air, in the light of her green Madrid, fragile structures with a special grace, and that later must be taken a by a specific woman, the woman that she diagnoses at first glance, guessing which headdress is best for her… These beautiful collages that will now be seen in Valencia, without doubt, constitute the most pictorial proposal as yet undertaken by Candela Cort. In them, women taken from classical art (Cranach, the delicate Clouet, Rubens and his marvellous Hélène Fourment, the timeless Vermeer) or from modern art (Manet the founder, the grey and evanescent and, sometimes, Venetian Whistler, Picasso) and contemporary (Lichtenstein and a figure in the bath that it is in the Thyssen Museum), are combined with some of the materials, which are so representative of her, they allow her to weave her own speech, construct her own hats, imagine them on such prestigious models… All this, suggested with light touches of her usual materials, with additional tangled drawings of her own creation; with translucent paper that veils the original image, making the figures of Clouet, for example, work as though they were shrouded in mist, as though in silence or at the height of less is more, with a simple string of costume pearls, tracing a line in the air, on one of these faces with fugitive smiles, on one of these heads that are always outside of their time… The need to use tradition as a support, the need for a background, a landscape, a story, needing to look back, in the rear-view mirror, in order to continue to progress. Finally, I must say that the presentation in wooden boxes –there was already a precedent in the Las Rozas exhibition- bestows upon such creations and homages an indubitable Cornellian air, and we must remember some of the teachings, yes, of Joseph Cornell, to whom we always end up returning. Remember, the capacity of the solitary American to mix, in his art, high and low culture, the masters of yesteryear –he also was inspired by Vermeer- and the trinkets of Manhattan’s dime stores, these very same trinkets that we find, here, in the enchanted laboratory of Candela Cort, who is capable of finding a use for them, with playful humour, even for… lolly sticks, which she uses to create headdresses that are somewhat cubist. All this will now be seen in Valencia – elegant, intelligent and subtle, as Candela Cort always is. Juan Manuel Bonet. Writer and art critic. From 1995 to 2000 he was the director of the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) and since 2000 he has been the director of the Reina Sofia National Museum. His works include several poetry books, a dictionary of the avant-garde in Spain and monographs on Juan Gris and Gerado Rueda. He has also organised several exhibitions and retrospectives covering diverse artists and avant-garde movements. “Lichtenstein Inspiration” Headdress “John of Flanders, I, Inspiration” Headdress “Whistler Inspiration” Headdress

Juan Manuel Bonet