Lourdes de la Villa Liso

Keep looking at images

Keep looking at images, Para/For Lourdes-erako, Textos

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SANDRA PALHARES

Secuencia imaginada. Lourdes de la Villa Liso, Bilbao, Fundación BilbaoArte Fundazioa, 2011, p. 60 (exhibition catalog)

 

Nowadays we are very lucky. We live in an era of plurality, where we live with a huge variety of different techniques and, of course, technology. What is all this for? It is due to the of Lourdes de la Villa’s painting subject. Her painting does not reflect the reality but another possible vision for the reality created with painting. It is there that we can understand the fact of being still alive – the painting, of course- after countless announced deaths in our technologically developed world. Lourdes’ work is specific in a way that we can only find in painting: that risky feature intrinsic to the gesture and the painter’s blot. If this is good or bad or, even indifferent, it does not matter now. What really matters is exactly that unique feature that distinguishes the painting from the modern means of image production since it is an self-referential painting, that is to say, it is a painting that also reflects about the means of painting. Besides it gives us another possible point of view of the world.

In a first impression we can think that its process of representation refers to the manipulation managed through image processing software which, nowadays, is accessible to everyone through computers. However, any similarity is just mere coincidence. Its process of representation is based on a continuous synthesis of images that are used as a reference. As she works constantly and synthetically on her images, in some cases, her concrete concerning turns into something abstract, emphasizing the old dichotomy concrete/abstract. Her gestures materialize in blot is what makes it more visible and evident the dichotomised game.

Even though they are synthesis manipulations of images, Lourdes does not use the same codes of manipulation available through photoshop because its process of synthesis is not conventionalized or socially shared. She offers a different one. Offering or inventing it does not mean that she does not turn it into a mechanization process too, at some point. However, that mechanization is not repeated in the same way but similarly. It is then, a distinguished mechanization, a pictorial automatism (application of continuous layers of paint through differentiated gestures).

It is a more complex process than it seems. We could say that its synthesis makes it complex referent first instead of simplifying. Because if, on one hand, a reality or imaginary concrete are used as referent, on the other hand, its task of synthesis can become something very abstract –as when it overlaps and superimpose fragments and pieces through blots, gestures and mixture of colours –there, her landscapes and characters in the big first shots get changed and hide its first nature.

Also, her image manipulation and superimposed painting cancel even more that possible immediate match to that reality, turning it into another reality. Actually, a more plastic reality, full of paint and a sequence of chromatic hues which take changeable shapes or signs more density-free and matter-free and they lead us to a more personal performance. Or better said, it leads us to another possible vision of such reality. And this way we go back to the beginning when we said that is one of the painting features which justify its presence in our present days. Painting boasts about a different reality, it makes possible to build and teach a different nature for such reality. It is not about justifying the relevance of painting but trying to understand the need of keep on painting our world. A world characterized by a kind of “neo-post-existentialism” and a world which goes deep into an endless nihilism.

This state of mood does not correspond only to a momentary crisis since the man always had the tireless ability of questioning everything through time. The eagerness of this moment of crisis might make it even more relevant. However, it is just another coincidence since art has always been one of the means which allows asking, investigating –though, sometimes, it might be like a not very objective search.

Just talking about painting in the contemporaneousness, the painter Marlene Dumas said, “Anything you can say against painting is true. It is an anachronism. It is out of fashion. It is obscene the way how any horror is turned into a kind of beauty. It is decadent. It is arrogant. They way it insists in being odd. And it is stupid, because it is not even able to answer its only question. Why the hell should we look at images? That is why I continue practicing it” [1]

Lourdes de la Villa also suggests continuing looking at images. Images with a nostalgic beauty. They –the images in her paintings, of course- can make us remember the old Bilbao, industrial, damaged, wintry and decadent. Probably, a synchronic past to Lourdes’ childhood since there are a lot of references to the imagined infant symbol through carrousels, the toy horse, and others. Her landscapes are wrapped by light that illuminate the darkness of the evocative time –a light which seems to illuminate and upset the obvious damage and decadence, creating an environment that clears worlds apparently opposite. It might be a metaphor for nostalgia and sadness about old times.

Furthermore and on the other hand, her canvases full of spilled ink, blots and brushstrokes seem to rescue a heritage kind of recently left by the abstract expressionism. On the other hand and in contrast, her iconic representations accentually photographic or silk screen printed refer to a Pop aesthetic and heritage. The dichotomised game we previously mentioned about something concrete/abstract is even more valid with these permanent opposite that live in her canvas: real/imaginary; real and concrete images that seem to be produced in a mechanic way. And more abstract ways which come at random and automatism in a more expressive and free of referents painting. We could even understand this continuous denial activity as a moment of dialectic as Hegel explains. When the philosopher talks about “task” referring to the negative, it is because the negative is the engine of movement which makes the being opposes, by overcoming the contradictions.

Lourdes de la Villa’s painting materialized the interrogation in aesthetic experience through the continuous searching of a vision aesthetic, suggesting a refection about other possible views of our world and the humans as the work in this exhibition shows. Finally, is not that the purpose of painting: images exhibition?

 

 

[1] Marlene Dumas cited in the introduction text of the exihibition Marelene Dumas. Contra o muro, 02 Julio-10 October 2010, Serralves, Porto, Portugal

 

 

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