After a period of unfair seclusion, in which the painting was left out, victim of the invectives of countless detractors for innumerable reasons, the medium comes back strengthened and renewed, with a capacity of suggestion and transmission of vitality; of reinventing itself constantly and appropriating all the others, as never seen before. It could be said that it has been reborn, that it is relaunched or even that a new medium is born, with the cosmic energy of a black hole in the universe of art, whose force of attraction none of them can avoid, either by contamination or by absorption.
In Ut pictura… a series of works by Kristoffer Ardeña, Rosa Brun, Miki Leal, Guillermo Mora and Vicky Uslé confront each other, all of them fit in the discipline, although they incorporate different perspectives of the current pictorial practice, being equally fitted its speeches, despite the perfect coexistence they show within the framework of a contemporary language. The exhibition aims to provide an overview of what has been described above and to invite to the celebration of the phenomenon in which painting has become. There is a structure of the foregoing after the phenomenon, even though its lack of prejudice complicates the evidence, often introducing us to classify its manifestations in the category of the event. Phenomenon, anyway, as it is essential, accompanied by an experience, the experience of the creator and the active consumer, from that event horizon always fresh and stimulating.
In 1979, Rosalind Krauss published in the journal October her article Sculpture in the Expanded Field, in which she exposes in black and white how this discipline and painting had been: kneaded and stretched and twisted in an extraordinary demonstration of elasticity, and how critics described as eclectic these practices, despite the question of the expanded field was once structured many of the artists in question have found themselves occupying, successively, different places, in a continuous relocation of the own creative energies absolutely logical. She continued stating that: practice is no longer organized around the definition of a given medium on the grounds of material, or, for that matter, the perception of material. It is organized instead through the universe of terms that are felt to be in opposition within a cultural situation. It follows, then, that within any one of the positions generated by the given logical space, many different mediums might be employed. Lucy Lippard said similarly that we have expanded the definition of art… Artists succeeded in opening what the art world would accept… A few months ago the MNCARS hosted a magnificent exhibition, +_1960. La expansión de las artes, about experimental activity in the field of music and its impact on all media, which determined the redefinition of the creative act in visual disciplines.
From the beginning of the 20th century, artistic manifestations have undergone a review regarding the conventions of concept, materials, techniques and process, which meant a radical change of its essence. Lázló Moholy-Nagy was positioned between painting, photography, film, scenography or design, defending a critical stance focused on the exchange between different artistic practices. Concerning the painting, he was halfway between the abolition of easel works and the denunciation of the figurative and narrative art in favor of pure, absolute painting. He advocated for the return to determine the medium and its constituent elements, for its conciliation with the others, building a dialectics of the interrelation of practices, its interaction, advocating the creation by all available means. Although his working hypothesis was focused to the use of new technologies, as it can be read in the introduction of Dominique Baqué to the book Painting Photography Film and Other Writings on Photography. László Moholy-Nagy, his thought in that regard is completely compatible with the assertion of Rosalind Krauss and Lucy Lippard and the discourse that holds this exhibition.
The works of the artists of the collective explore the possibilities of the discipline in a wide variety that in material goes from the painting without painting of the piece of copper and black wood by Rosa Brun and the ceramic, Hoguera y tangram, by Miki Leal, to the accumulation and mixture of materials that usually form a painting: canvas, stretchers, frames and pictorial material substrate, in the case of Guillermo Mora; or the collage in Vicky Uslé’s canvas and in the different versions offered by the works of Rosa Brun or Guillermo Mora. On the other hand, Ksistoffer Ardeña goes into his Ghost Paintings in the meta-painting, analyzing the behavior of the work of the Latin American avant-garde artists as Volpi or Carmen Herrera, once resized different parameters.
The technical, material, processual and concept transversality of these works fits in the media. Although Rosa Brun goes into details about the relationship of the space with material, line and volume, in a practical demonstration that develops a previous deep intellectual work; Vicky Uslé does so with the composition and coexistence of different materials, which becomes a very subtle revision of the collage; a dialogue between the formal, spatial and chromatic placid lyricism. Guillermo Mora, along with the material juxtaposition commits on the sculptural qualities and the space capacity of the own pigment and of various materials that make up the conventional pictorial work; deconstructive exercise whose reason for living is the search for truth and multiplicity that hides the medium; whereas Miki Leal, with both ceramics and mixed technique, which incorporates a partial destruction of support, as resource of form and substance, immerses himself into childhood memories, recreating a nostalgic universe of objects that form what that period has left in his memory. We had already seen that Ardeña goes into an appropriative dynamic, not exempt from hedonism, a little baroque, while he uses other paintings which have already made history in contemporary art as material for his paintings, entering in the game with historicism processes all work, movement and artistic period, actually playing with advantage, outwitting the rules of that game; a trap that would have amused very much Rosalind Krauss. On the other hand, and despite the various elements of the different compositions there is a common dominant note, a binder that unites and ensures coherence and gives shape to the discourse of the exhibition; However its hybridization with others, the nature of still life painting is evident in the treatment of the case, elements and materials and nourishes with argument the emphasis placed on the formal and compositional and the nature of its concept.
Category reviled in the past, as it has been the medium at various times more or less recent, to the extent that qualifying a photography or video as Pictorialist was synonymous with rejection, from the avant-gardes, the still life painting moves up to genre par excellence to lead manifests and create theories. In addition, thanks to the increased compositional freedom that it gives its independence of the narrative and to the eminently intimate character it possesses, it becomes in the suitable field for reflection and to the self-referential analysis in which it passes we refer it to all the works that meets a certain number of requirements, with critical and practical discussion about painting in our days. Of course, when we talk about still life painting we do so in the broadest sense the own genre allows in the current context; for example: intimate character, inanimate elements, neutral backgrounds; emphasis on textures and formal qualities; geometric spatial organization; color, shape and line of the object, of the element, in themselves; the study of the structure, behavior of light, color, shadows…, considered in their autonomy… Norman Bryson – Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting – prefers to classify the classifiable work in gender in series, depending on the requirements they meet: … still life paintings were made to enter the still life series. That series has no essence, only a variety of family resemblances… And he continues… the coherence of the series is given by the real objects it occupies. Finally he makes a very interesting observation that perhaps justifies the pejorative treatment, of minor work, given in the past, about how such objects always belonged to the sphere of the invariable. In other words, the still life painting would reflect something like the internal history, compared to the great battles paintings, or Court paintings, landscape, or the religious or mythological topic, always on the mainstream, being part of the large Court or Church iconographic programs, while the other one was saved to the domestic sphere. The artists and the works gathered in Ut pictura…, make a personal and irreplaceable contribution to that redefine and resignify the pictorial medium and the category of still life painting which has been ongoing for over a century, in the wake of those pioneers in the historical avant-garde; revised rules and procedures, synchronized its activity with the course of contemporary theory, practice and critique.
Horacio’s aphorism Ut pictura poesis, adapted and recontextualized, relocated in the environment of arts expansion, adds semantic value demonstrating its applicability and validity to understand, only the first part is written, barely outlined, the discursive content of the exhibition, which is to stress the new course of the medium, also surpassed itself and all the prejudices around. If its defeat in any campaign was true, so is its victory in the battle, so every time Painting is dead! is shouted, a Long live painting! will be followed with greater authority and forcefulness.