The exhibit, curated by Patricia Ortega-Miranda, opens this Friday
Galería Fúcares of Almagre opens on Friday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m., the collective exhibition “Presente Continuo” with works by Vicente Fita and Eva García Donate from Cuenca and Filomena Moreno from Albacete, who show their approaches to the still life genre. The exhibition, which can be seen until November 12, is curated by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.
The curator of the exhibition states that “the exhibition ‘Presente Continuo’ brings together a selection of works by three artists who maintain a connection not only between generations, but also because they were students of the critic and theoretician José Luis Brea and whose works have been cross-referenced both by critics, as well as from the history of art. Insisting on painting and photography as artistic mediums, these works collectively gather a reflection on the relationship between artwork and image, a central axis in Brea’s work.
This reflection stems from the approach to still life and still life genres that became popular during the Baroque, the style and period that have been at the center of modernity criticism and image theories. Still life originated in the Protestant Netherlands in the 17th century for the enjoyment and consumption of the middle class of merchants and traders. Already in Spain, still life became a low genre, according to the classification established by the French Royal Academy. Still life, as the first genre that artists should master, reveals knowledge of the most basic technical and artistic skills and should emphasize the religious dimension of everyday life. Two centuries later, Cézanne focused his reflections on the fundamental principles of still life painting, as Morandi would do with his compositions of bottles and kitchenware. The still life is where the banal and the devotional meet and subvert. Accumulated times condense in their apparent simplicity and there is nothing more than an emphasis on the plastic, as a creator of distance. Distance is critical in this case.
In an unexpected return to easel painting on the occasion of the exhibition organized by the Fúcares gallery at the “Bodegón del cardo” in 2021, Vicente approaches the work of Sánchez Cotán with a photographic sensibility. He did not seek to reproduce the painting, but instead parodied the very act of recreating the Dutch-influenced Spanish still life, as he himself was a Spanish artist living in the Netherlands as a foreigner. In the still life, but even more so in the series of photographic paintings where he takes a tour of his childhood, photorealism becomes both a parody and a restoration of the photographic record as an accumulation of time. Through painting, a distance is opened that breaks with the epochal values of immediacy and movement established by modernity, and where photography is installed as a record of duration, where different aesthetic modes and emotional flows accumulate. It is not simply a return to painting and its object value, but to affect the distance that appears between the time of photographing and the act of painting in order to consider the way in which images, as Brea would say, are produced.
Pictorial photography is for Vicente to paint the distance that allows an image to be approached within the excess of the banal that it constantly seeks to destroy, in the always postponed promise of distance, the overlapping of times or the excess of times that sustain it. In this act of rebuilding a family photographic archive that is crisscrossed by death and loss, the paintings capture a density of times where image, memory and distance are restored through the creation of the plastic, an act that resists the fragmented and fleeting time of the photograph . In this double gesture, which is his homage and parody of photorealism, the artist insists on the object of memory as an image of duration and unity of meaning, eliminating any hierarchy between photography and its reverse.
In her series of photographs, Philomena pays tribute to the American photographer Edward Weston, whom she considers an important influence on her work. In this way, the artist distances herself from the alienation and dehumanizing effects that European modernist movements would almost obsessively pursue. Modernists would provoke stupor by emphasizing the unheard and the monstrous, thereby exploiting the object-body binarism that distinguishes the human from the superhuman or the subhuman. Known for his masterful and innovative approach to darkroom processes, at the beginning of the 20th century this photographer would perfect the black and white gelatin silver print technique, for which he would take the plant specimen as a motif. Unlike most modernist photographers who distanced themselves from the aesthetics of scientific photography, Weston maintained throughout his life a formal interest in objects or things in a state of transformation. Placing the specimens of shells, vegetables, animals and plants against a black or flat background, he privileges the organic processes of mutation and interconnection. Returning to the aesthetics of scientific specimens, Philomena’s series questions the binarisms that have historically run through the still life genre. In this way, it plays to undermine the boundaries from which we relate to the non-human, emphasizing the impossibility of establishing categories of difference in the face of the object or in the face of anything that can be different.
In Eva’s series of paintings, this accumulation of time is also an accumulation of paint on the canvas, shades of yellow and white on a black background that eliminate all context to present us with an image as a phenomenon of vision. The radical contrast refers us to the transcendental and ephemeral moment of Baroque art that characterizes 17th-century painting, where the act of revelation and therefore conversion occurs as the penetration of light into the plane of darkness. More than a sense of religiosity, the artist seems to obsessively pursue the opacity of yellow and white, not to produce an effect but to hint at a symptom. The word effect refers to the demonstrative and revealing, as it denotes a process of causality between two events, but the symptom is coincidence, suspicion, concealment, need, and difficulty in establishing a connection. The opacity, which seems to emerge from the black background, requires correction of vision, distancing for the eye to organize the image. It is then that the image of the disease begins to undermine the phenomenon of vision that it itself organizes. The disease does not appear here as an allegory of bread with a fly, but in the image itself, as a symptom. “Flying flies” disease creates the vision of moving floating bodies in the form of dots or shadows produced by a conglomerate of cells inside the eye. Likewise, vision here cannot be divided into passive or active categories, for in it images are activated and acted upon. In a previous series titled The Lover’s Eyes, based on the jewelry of the same name that would become popular in England in the 18th century, the artist was interested in the anonymity of the subject whose eye was depicted and the artist who painted it. In this series, the image’s eye reveals and conceals the inner movement that arises from its status as a secret, from an imperceptible activity where the artist often secretly inserts, between the eyes of anonymous lovers, that of her alter ego, Patty Led.
“Presente Continuo” offers an approach to the still life genre from each of these artists and offers a reflection on the accumulation of time that gives the images a critical distance. It is from this distance that emerges through the painting and photographic process that it becomes possible to interrogate the nature of the image as a resistance to the division of life into values and hierarchical scales that attempt to displace or postpone the becoming indivisible and inexhaustible of time”. points out Partricia Ortega-Miranda.