“Then I noticed that my shadow was crying too, shedding clear, sharp shadow tears. Have you ever seen the shadows of tears, Mr. Wind-Up Bird? They’re nothing like ordinary shadows. Nothing at all. They come here from some other, distant world, especially for our hearts. Or maybe not. It struck me then that the tears my shadow was shedding might be the real thing, and the tears that I was shedding were just shadows.”
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami.
Antonio Yesa (Arcos de la Frontera, 1952) gathers different techniques in a contrasts exhibition in which very diverse concepts and materials are spontaneously and intuitively assembled.
His work, despite having a clear affiliation with Spanish contemporary sculpture, holds a very noticeable individualism. The paradox and confrontation among apparently opposite concepts intimate and public, transitory and permanent, penetrable and something impelling, organic and inorganic, technological and handmade, big and small, steady and impossible equilibrium are part of his particular way of making and understanding life and art. His work glides consequently through the marriage between the plan or straight line and the curve or dotted line, between something soft and something stiff, rigid and flexible, cold and warm or something matt and rough and something polished shiny; elaborating a personal language based on variables he distributes according to his discourse, although with a formal order always true to his style.
Conversing with the substance is indispensable for the artist since it becomes part and subject of his aesthetic discourse. The physical structure as an obstacle, but also as a suggestion, turns substance into an ineludible stimulus in order to find the common ground between intention and support. There is a wide gamut: wood and metal with different qualities and textures, among plastic, crystal or paper, with or without colour.
He plays as well softening the lines between disciplines by making his noteworthy works complement other draws, collages and photographies in full conformity too.
In these pieces, the artist turns his concerns about the passage of time in first person, which gives rise to many unanswered questions about the past, present and, of course, about what is yet to come. In form, the starting point of this project is an already dead tree, an element with a wide variety of anthropological iconographic references. A symbolic icon that is so many times the picture of life and energy, an energy it carries even after being cut down, that shelters a secret it protects with its bark: the rings that reveal its age, hidden from light. A picture itself of how time flies and picture of the transformation this circumstance impress in every being and object that experiences it, and an allegory of the individual’s solitude. The tree is one more time modified by his own hands, which ignore if they are inflicting it suffering and are apprehensive of this contingency, but are hopeful in providing it the opportunity to live a second life by virtue of its new role as an art piece; a process that will mark it with new stigmata added to those of existence. Without skin, the tree becomes vulnerable, like the person, naked both outwardly and inwardly, showing itself as it really is. On the other hand,
the artist’s intervention seems to project his own concern about the meaning of life and the certainty of death, fearing not being able to leave his passing mark through it. Anyway, we confirm the tree has borne other fruits: those hanging from its branches, from the artist itself his memories?, in an Exquisite Corpse reinterpretation there is more than one nod to the surrealist masters; as well as those resulting from reunifying the trimmed branches or from grafting trunk pieces on steel and from the shapes their shadows cast. As it distances from the one belonging to the Chapman brothers, a repulsive image from death, not much of an exquisite corpse, becomes closer to the meaning the ones Ugo Rondine planted in Manhattan had, although smelted in aluminium and white lacquered, synthetics and cold, as a witness of the condensed time memory.
Yesa’s sculpture, always sensuous and thought-provoking, incorporates this time a new element ranked as inexorable: the shadow, which adds another dimension and provides sobriety and density besides mystery. It seems the artist made these reflections from Tanizaki his own: “[…] we create beauty by bringing forth shadows […]; “[…] beauty is not a substance itself but only a set of shadows, a play of chiaroscuro made by the juxtaposition from different substances […]”. On the other hand: “[…] beauty is lost if we supress shadowing effects […]”.
With a subtle ludic intention, he cheats senses through the play of light and shadow, shaping the space, so important in his work, like another piece and distributing darkness and lighting with different intensity, rhythm, tonality and dramatic sense; thereby creating a real Shadows suite, an inaudible melody he manages to use not only to highlight the sculptures’ material beauty and reveal what clarity hides, but to establish time settings and tours whose cadence fits with the chiaroscuro’s.
Reality and fantasy are mixed up with a trompe-l’oeil where it is not always what it seems nor seems what it is. Worlds that sometimes go by in parallel and occasionally superimpose and interact, shaping a maze hard to escape from. Perceptive confusion in that spatial magma that is home to a changing sequence of events which give shape to a non-linear narrative, like perceiving time and life events, frequently in confrontation with what happened and what is desired, which manipulates memory.