Lourdes de la Villa Liso

Landscape becomes present

Landscape becomes present, Para/For Lourdes-erako, Textos

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IZASKUN ETTXEBARRIA http://iskaskun.net/

Secuencia imaginada. Lourdes de la Villa Liso, Bilbao, Fundación BilbaoArte Fundazioa, 2011, pp. 60-61 (exhibition catalog)


A moderately satisfied view of the world can only come at a high price of being us ourselves who take that view going backwards to the role of an uninvolved observer. (Schrödinger, 1984)


Painting can’t go through the net. That’s what I think as I look at the images on these huge paintings at BilbaoArte room. I do not know very well why its size has been multiplied, they have grown hugely. The artist talks about four levels when she refers to her work. Where is the key of her work in these levels?

The first time I saw Imagined Sequence (level II) was in 2007. Its structure told me that that horizon line marked the central part of the composition, as it does in most of landscapes, the way we understand this pictorial genre. So I suggested Lourdes become part of a collective exhibition which Espacio Abisal was organizing at Hernani street in Bilbao. The title of this exhibition was Paisajismos _Landscapes.

The reason to get this classic painting genre back was to get the attention on the context we live in. On one hand, the term Landscaping (Paisajismos), led me to think of “mirage”, the suffix “ism” highlighted the idea of tendency, as “tendency to mirage”. On this other hand, Landscapes made me think of the fact that the natural landscape was getting away from us, going away in an airship opposed to the urban mass growth.

Lourdes’ work also produces that impression of changeable mirage. Even though, in her case it is not only the urban mass what invades the natural landscape, but the mass of the memory and the perception simultaneously. The silver surface reflects light and gets you out of the scene. Now that I can see these paintings in a much bigger format, I can see in detail that those small elements show, above all, the iconography of her childhood memories.

That exhibition was made up of painting style pieces and a video created by Ana Sanz, Noemí Sjöberg, Esteban de la Monja, Ignacio Uriarte and Lourdes de la Villa. These five artists share the same idea about paying special attention to the perception and the representation.

At that moment I was wondering about how the context we live in influences and modifies our way of thinking:

Rural or urban, the horizon limit prevails to delimit our landscape. This way, landscape is just the gap extending beyond our body. One of the classic genres is the general framework common to the art works displayed in this exhibition. Each artist thinks over about the genre to be mixed with their own tools of post-production of the reality.

We cannot understand the landscape notion without considering the spectator, since what we see is just landscape in the act of contemplation. This idea connected to the experience direct to the nature and as way of relation to the environment is a modern practice; it is the contemplation of the natural scenario where the existence is developed.

As the text continues, in the exhibition we could find a speech deeply rooted in the Romanticism, the Dadaism and the Conceptual Art. We start from the idea of a human being as centre of indecision against the world/nature. But, what is it like today this world/nature? And what is our relation with this world/nature?

I had been long time thinking about the ways of life in some places and others; I mean, in the post-industrial metropolis and in the country-side, near the nature. It is a personal reflection around this question, I was worried about losing contact to the reality in our culture, everything seems to be post-produced. (Bourriaud, 2004)

The present situation as I accentuate has created a mobile society which is also interconnected to the digital media. However, the speed of acceleration changes in our environment; either it is the Augé’s place, the digital cave in a platonic way, the raw ground in the rural landscape or the comfortable concrete where we can roll our wheels. Weather and atmosphere go through changes and we perceive it with a typical subtlety of the specialist in representation[1].


The compositions of the works were all very different. In all of these works the horizon showed an invitation to relax. In some of them, it encourages us to look around, although the head turn was led to a straight line. In others, because time had remained altered by the artist hand which slowed down the scene.

In a painting, horizon and sky weaved themselves softly on white. In the fifth work, a pile of binders showed a hypnotized dance; usual landscape par excellence for every clerk in the bureaucratic world.

Urban, natural landscape, in or out of the buildings, the cars, the trains or walking. We are the children of modernity, of the machine, of the new goddess that imposes us, punishes us but also seduces us with its repetitive rhythms.

Lourdes’ works appeal to all of our senses from her childhood memory. Feelings are recovered through light and known scenarios such as the estuary, the cranes and the traffic lights in Bilbao. The colour comes unstuck as in a dream. Nothing is what it seems to be. The rear view mirror warns us: “in this world, we go forward backwards” (de la Villa, 2007) and we attend to the stories of her dreams in front of an exciting scene.

“We go from spatial abstraction to take up all the time out of the images, we go to live inside the feeling of the things. That is why in this place the human thing does not have human image, because it is a destiny reached by the visual animal by itself, for itself. This last place is a feeling of the landscape that reflects a way to feel the light (physical event), and it checks out a way to see the world (psychic event).

As an intellectual construction it is separated from the familiarity of the established time, but connected to the materiality of the things which exceed what it is purely visual. The visual animal is the product of thinking the visual system as a complete nervous system. It incorporates and distinguishes look and vision, it is automaton and it is a machine, and it wants to live like a human. Heidegger says that only man dies. Animal perishes.” (de la Villa, 2007)

We are standing in front of a hybrid between natural and artificial, there’s no limit anymore. Limits have been blurred in her worship. Now there is only left the staging of the memory in large format. It seems to expect that the characters come to life now in natural size to tell us, viva voce, their story.

The bumper cars, the umbrellas, the chairs in the terraces… The performing is always produced within a scenario, as a limited version of the world.

Representing means detach, reduce the amount of information which is given to us totally. Afterwards, the chosen elements are organized in the exhibition rooms, based on the white cube which detaches the artifact from its original context.


It is started from sacralisation of the artistic object and the original context where the work is produced, is expelled from the exhibition.

That is the way we go deep into the scenario notion, leaving behind the worship idea. This way, it is performed the new reality to be perceived, dissected and reintegrated through an operation of meaning recovery. It is, as Jean Baudrillar points out, real virtuality chance, since the real thing as such thing is a construction.

Loudes de la villa shows us how remembering link us beyond sight/view to all the senses that metabolize in our memory. They build, from living information, the present in our own way.

If the knowledge is reached through experience, inserted in our screen-format caves or cube-scenario, we are linked to an exciting post-produced world which is getting more and more rhizomatic. However, it can make us forget our physical, wild and instinctive nature and above all, our relation to it.

Landscape, which was first considered as a classical genre, means here a frame of specific thought to reach dwelling: an attitude in front of reality. This is understood as specific material that surrounds our body, and a reflection around perception and representation of this experience.

[1] Original text extract developed for Paisajismos. Land_scapes, ESPACIO ABISAL, 2007


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