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English

Art gallery, Valencia (Spain)


C.Iglesias, J.Pardo, J.Mª Sicilia, J.Sarmento, J.Uslé, K.Walker

C.Iglesias, J.Pardo, J.Mª Sicilia, J.Sarmento, J.Uslé, K.Walker
1ª Visión del Arte Contemporáneo
Junio 2007

Fernando Castro Flórez

"C.Iglesias, J.Pardo, J.Mª Sicilia, J.Sarmento, J.Uslé, K.Walker"

“In defence of diversity”

In contemporaneity rhetoric moving images have become what Timothy Clark called denial practices, i.e. that “travestism” of the creative process in which deliberate clumsiness was defended, and of course, a celebration of what is insignificant; a “weakened irony” converts the artistic experience into an as if that shuns all responsibility: finally, although art is a shameful bodge job, it can be justified by saying that it was done like that on purpose. It begins to be a moral obligation to call things by their name and, in that way, we have to comprehend that many of the creative speculations that surround us reflect nothing more than their impotence, but one that is extraordinarily skilfully camouflaged. If, in general terms, art is involved in an unusual funeral without a corpse, i.e. a task of dissuasion, something like a exorcism of the imaginary, in the case of painting a quickly accelerating disappearance is taking place, along with the awareness that the picture is the space of slowness and, worse still, a psychopathic activity. I do not exaggerate when I warn that the rule today is the onanism of the absurd, the pathetic drive that leads one to offer subjectivity to the tense terrain of the ridiculous. In the last instance, the strategy of obscenity has not only made monuments banal, but the fetishist drive, the evil of the archive, has led, excuse the paradox, to “aesthetic” obesity and anorexia. There is an excess and a shortage of everything, just when acceleration of exhibition and telematic super-connection allow anything to be. Between the (neo) panoptism (the discipline of close observation of the abysmal) and the cult of cathodic pathos, cemented in the lobotomisation of critic and the institutionalisation of subversion, the artistic gesture ends up in nauseating gesticulation. I have stated on several occasions that the childish return of contemporary imaginary has produced a chance style of agreed transgression, summarised in the pronunciation of “caca, culo, pedo, pis” (“poo, arse, fart, piss”) which instead of being trampled or censored by the paternal authority achieves “soft permissiveness”, which in turn leads to an unveiling of the forbidden. To a large extent, the aforementioned obscenity is an awareness of the deep penetration of the pop strategies that represented the dissolution of the programmatic avant-garde along with the imposition of a vital tonality which was both bright and marked by the strangest melancholy. Banality is certainly the rearguard (cynical and cowardly) in a game of aesthetic skirmishes that are fully aware that they can no longer go anywhere. What is banal increases in scale, the new pennant bearer promises entertainment and of course, painting, with its pauses and contemplative pretensions does not appear to fit in with the spectacular / integrated model. But, just when the transgression is made completely rhetorical, it is necessary to find new interstices, to overcome the clichés that in some Manichean way or pseudo-evolutionary way believe that certain languages, such as painting are in decline. Painting itself might be that refuge of the aesthetic myth of individuality, a valid tool to rebuild it or, better still, the unveil the illusions of the present: “Give that painting” put forward Thomas Lawson “is closely linked to illusion, what better vehicle can there be for subversion?”… Undoubtedly, before the plot by the aesthetics (neo)camp, there is are a considerable number of artists who are not prepared to make a pact with the complete and utter epidemic of stupidity. I refer to artists who strive towards singularity, who tackle their obsessions (the true food for art) and who, without being prey to the paranoia of fashion, impose their expressive tone with honesty. Ana Serratosa, with her characteristic good taste, has selected a number of artists who are undoubtedly true references for a collective exhibition in which the only “criteria” is that of intensity and quality in their specific proposals. Because Julião Sarmento, Kara Walter, Jorge Pardo, Juan Uslé, Cristina Iglesias, Miquel Navarro and José María Sicilia do not share their stylistic approaches (dogmatic) nor are we able to say, in any case, can they be considered as representative of something that could be called a “trend”. They are artists from different generations and contexts, committed to very their different approaches, from construction of impressive cities by Miquel Navarro to toying with shadows by Kara Walter, to the luxurious chromatics of Uslé and the reductionism of Sicilia. I am sure that although they are not involved in identical aesthetic domains, the work by these artists can converse with each other, i.e. they will offer themselves in a game of visual friction, unexpected effects of feeling on which they lend themselves to patient contemplation. Ana Serratosa has therefore brought together a “collector’s cabinet” which is a modest approach to her particular vision of zeitgeist, as one could say, the frame that defines her taste. I feel that in all the artists that she approaches, there is a streak of elegance and even sobriety which, if it includes a trend towards the Baroque style, this is outweighed by the willingness, a style that shuns what is not necessary. In many pieces of this art we can also find a kind of praise of the shadow, the revelation that a true feature can be found there, and of course, the most urgent: poetry. It is important to remember the consideration by Clause Levi-Strauss that the master painter consists of uniting internal and external knowledge (always halfway between a sketch and a story), “a being and a becoming, to produce something that does not exist with a brush, as an object and who, nevertheless, knows how to create it on the canvas: perfectly balanced synthesis between one or several artificial and natural structures and one with several natural and social events taking place. Aesthetic emotion comes from this union instituted in the heart of a thing created by man, and therefore, virtually for spectators, who discover its possibility through the work of art, between the order of the structure and the order of the happening”. We have verified that in painting that became consolidated at the end of the 20th century hybridisation was predominant over formalism of the sublime (that pre-conceptual sensation of something happening rather than nothing) or the aesthetics of emptiness (established in some cases as a mystical figure or place without coordinates for the absolute). In the work by the artists selected by Ana Serratosa for her excellent collective exhibition, post-modern hybridisation is not so predominant in the expanded do-it-yourself trend, but rather a mature revision of formal approaches to modernism to try to offer new metaphorical operations. The work by Julião Sarmento, Kara Walter, Jorge Pardo, Juan Uslé, Cristina Iglesias, Miquel Navarro and José María Sicilia make for a maximum quality contemporary artistic territory. I am sure that, with their visual power, they will trap the eyes of those who still expect something different from art that mere entertainment or the most banal of anecdotes. The multiplicity and diversity of these pieces of work is a feast for the senses and defends the intelligent aesthetic experience.

Fernando Castro Flórez