Text for the catalogue of the individual exhibition “Pintura sobre Pintura” (“Painting on Painting”) published on the occasion of said exhibition at the Mislata Cultural Center in 2002
Le tableau ne sera pas regardé passivement mais bien revécu dans son élaboration, refait par la pensée.
— I —
Dubuffet’s advice-mandate, which heads these lines, like a motto, should be taken much more into account, to the point of becoming, in fact, the determining axis of our aesthetic experiences.
“Revecu dans son elaboration”, “refait par la Pensee” is, without a doubt, asking too much of our capacity as observers, of our perceptive skills and, above all, too much to expect of the habits exercised, commonly, by our visual thinking in the face of pictorial plasticity.
However, this imperative becomes even more evident in those works, whose degree of self-referentiality, of direct display of their physicality, is radicalized, to the extent that the strength of the painting’s own corporeality, its signifying status, is becomes primarily a visual affair. Painting – who doubts it? – exists for the gaze and its physiological correlate is the eye.
Thus, the stroke of a gesture, the delicate sobriety of a form, the slightest geometric harmony or the chromatic beat subtly incorporated into a material, which fixes its instantaneous vivacity on the canvas, are made, without further ado, -one and the other- to be seen and, above all, to be looked at, with relish and curious parsimony.
However, -let’s face it- there are many ways of looking, just as there are also many ways of building, of composing, of establishing the autonomous values of painting. And they are not innocent, far from it, these verbs that I have just used, since it is easy for us to find certain painters who act, in relation to their works, as architects or even musicians would do in front of theirs. With this, we open, once again, the risky and highly exciting game of proposing and concocting a minimal correspondence between the arts.
Doesn’t something like this happen in the process of reading Silvia Lerín’s paintings? Revécue, sa peinture de la, dans son elaboration, refaite par la Pensee, as we were advised from the initial motto. It is about reliving the complex saga of its elaboration, from the receptive gaze, with the effective reconstructive help of thought. And that’s where we are.
I have to confess that, when faced with her proposals, I have always been surprised, on the one hand, by that kind of outstanding self-demonstration of her sensitive values and, on the other, by the meticulous rigor of her structural conception. Painting, after all, as an autonomous resource, as a solfège de la couleur or as a space built for the gaze.
In fact, when the artists themselves have wanted to underline the scope and strength of the plasticity of painting, they have usually resorted to certain musical references. Thus, against the historical ut poesis pictura, the ut musice pictura is opportunely argued, sometimes almost as an intense liberation, propping up, in this way, a greater degree of autonomy, on the part of the painting itself. Perhaps an emancipatory journey from the narrative model of poetry to the intrastructural model of music?
In reality, those who consider themselves more sensitive and much more impacted by “a surface plane covered in colors in a certain order assemblées” than by the figure of “la femme nue” or by the haughty silhouette of the rearing “cheval de bataille ” -suggested by the famous formula used by Maurice Denis (“Art et critique”, 1890) precisely to define painting- will undoubtedly be well disposed to be seduced by the model of ut musice pictura.
In short, the adventure consists of borrowing two of its own characteristics from music and/or architecture: its mathematical-geometric prestige and its studied distance from nature, that is, its freedom in relation to mimetic patterns, using , consequently, restrictively, of elements and resources of its corresponding artistic action.
However, whatever the musical “quality” of an emotion caused by the presence of certain relationships between colors, or the architectural “quality” experimentally associated with the discovery of a particular combination of structural forms on the canvas, will remain insufficient both that recourse to analogies such as the use of correspondences between the arts – always suggestive ways of speaking – to elucidate the specific quality of pictorial plasticity. And it is precisely the values of that plasticity -let’s say it clearly- that now interests us, above all, when approaching the pictorial work of Silvia Lerín (Valencia, 1975).
For this reason, beyond establishing correspondences with music, with poetry or with architecture, resources that are often taken as guiding threads of the estimative argumentation of painting, we would like to approach -even if only briefly- the particular banausian origin and the modeling strategies that this marked dimension, eminently plastic, in itself, entails. It is a matter of doing justice to a frequently silenced aspect, attending to the material establishment of the painted work, as a “state” (the work as a result) and as a conforming “process” (the work as an action) .
Silvia Lerín’s mixed techniques -her acrylics, with marble dust and paper on canvas-, like so many other pictorial conformations, meticulously preconceived in her preparatory drawings and elaborated manually, with care and dedication, always entail, in her technical work, that elementary and at the same time fundamental act of the pictorial task, consisting of producing, in such a way that it remains duly incorporated, a material layer, made to be seen, on a support, prepared to remain hidden. And precisely that material work, with the intentions and purposes that regulate and preside over it, embodies what could well be called the specific condition of the pictorial plastic order.
— I I —
Is there anything more personal than the palette -real or metaphorical- of a painter? Through it, both his vision of reality and his style are constituted. But the palette, installed at the very heart of pictorial work, also has its own social and historical dimension. The painter’s oeil cultivated is never alien to his time, nor to the prevailing conception of the artistic fact, nor to the accepted and current guidelines, regulating the preferential demands of artistic execution.
In this sense, I would dare to point out that the evolution of the word “art” (from artisan know-how to the almost religious concept of creation) and that of the term “work” (from the most radically manual task to the highest cerebral product) have simultaneously led, on the one hand, to a growing index of dematerialization, that is, of disincarnation of the artist’s work, directly propitiated by technological developments and by the reconceptualizations that affect the very way of understanding artistic facts, but, on the other hand, On the other hand, perhaps it should also be pointed out that these evolutions have also led to the development of a marked individualism, explicitly manifested in the integration of their own doing, their concerns and projects, their crises and expectations, in the most intimate structures of the subject. , in the folds of the self, realizing -possibly, as a reaction and contrast- a kind of effective fusion between the work ma nuance and intellectual restlessness, thus revaluing the status of pictorial action, capable of reconsidering its own history and, at the same time, of opening interdisciplinary towards other exchanges and dialogues, with the secret hope of also vindicating the intrinsic values of its plasticity.
Without a doubt, in this situation, Silvia Lerín’s artistic career has resolutely opted for the presentational cult of the functions of appearance that pictorial languages, in themselves, make possible and enhance. But, to what extent, with respect to her pictorial work, is it possible to speak of a correspondence between musical, architectural and properly material values? That is to say, of an experiential dialogue between the autonomy of the sensible, the structuring of forms, the establishment of spheres and spaces of marked plasticity, where, above all, color and textures assume degrees of outstanding protagonism. Perhaps this is the general framework of questions that frames, explains and justifies, briefly, some of the fundamental keys of the pictorial investigations carried out by Silvia Lerín.
Above all, it is a question of favoring the strength of plasticity, derived directly from the treatment of the material (acrylic, marble dust and paper, on canvas) whether it is painted first or in layers, since in both cases the aim is to conversion of the painting into a surface sensitive to gesture, sign, texture, geometric play or chromatic invasion. The painting as appellative surface.
In this way Silvia Lerín’s interventions on these appellative surfaces, far from becoming precise imitations, become, in their plastic materiality, ends in themselves and not instruments of representation. Her paintings require, together with the strategies of the gaze, a kind of “touch at a distance”. It is true that the visual properties of the material used are, without a doubt, decisive here, but they are also linked to the presence and cultivation of the texture, which more or less retains the transit and caress of light.
In its autonomy, show painting emphasizes the cultivation of the touch, of punctual and meticulous intervention, of texture, in the application of matter, precisely in order to transform itself into a true plastic language. On that appellative surface, the passage of forms will take place, the play of structures will be articulated, the total domain of color will open up, but always leaving that trace of the presence of the muscular and manual struggle that ratifies -at the same time – the pleasure and pain of pictorial action. Not in vain, the gesture of the hand is always in charge and responsible for carrying out -with the eloquent dialogue of the materials- the complex relationship and the inescapable link between the visual elements that inhabit and constitute the work.
But if each material supposes a language, it is true that it is so to the extent that it preserves the traces of the struggle of the tools, the trail of the hand, the materialized imprints of the conception of the pictorial project. Does the way in which Silvia Lerín applies and develops the chromatic strategy not weigh as much as the choice of the colors themselves, in view of their composition?
Between calculation and chance, Silvia Lerín’s paintings are shelled. Or perhaps it is incorrect to speak here of chance and it is preferable to refer to the whims and aspirations imposed by the work itself, through its materials, the complexity of its compositional demands and/or its sudden changes and contrasts?
I have often thought that, in the context of artistic endeavor, technique is nothing more than “domesticated luck”. It is that luck, that chance, those aspirations and fickleness of the work itself that causes the difficulties and at the same time provides the possible solutions in that daily battle of artistic establishment.
The scope of the initial motto will now be better understood. Silvia Lerín’s paintings should not be looked at passively, but rather they should be revived, with the help of thought, in the process of their elaboration. Although this implies and requires, certainly, an entire instruction of the viewer’s gaze, through the action developed in the artistic task that gives rise to the work. Quite a difficult task, which Silvia Lerín undoubtedly strives to promote, from a particular joy of living, which somehow emerges in her works. Perhaps a suggestive hedonism of carpe diem, at this historical juncture.
1 .- In this sense, the French language clarifies very adequately between “oeuvre” and “ouvrage”, respectively as a state-result and as a process of action, by the intervening subject.
Román de la Calle
2002 -University of València. General Studies-