Nature gentle's depth
During a recent visit to Gonzalo Martín-Calero's study to contemplate the canvases and drawings of this exhibition, the artist from Valladolid expressed his disagreement with the relationship that so often certain analysts of his work 'including me, little before our conversation- establish between his work and Oriental art. Well acquainted with classical Chinese and Japanese painting, Martín-Calero is obviously fond, even with devotion, of that distant model. But precisely for this reason, being the author of all the artworks which surrounded us in his studio, he must, better than anyone else, be aware of that which distances him from such an illustrious referent. This lead me to admit how we sometimes happily associate, in the distance, phantoms and stereotypes, which reminded me of the extent to which in the sixties, after the return of José Guerrero from his long New York adventure, an emerging generation of young admirers saw in him, admittedly, what we wanted to see: that he was the most American of our illustrious abstracts. With great surprise from his part since, at the other side of the Ocean, everyone expressed that if anything, he was typically Spanish. Although all things considered, it shouldn't be strange to admit that perhaps, those on both sides of the Ocean were, to a certain degree, right.
All in all, even when Martín-Calero does not picture himself in an Orientalist suit and when deep down nothing leads us to doubt his assertion, this does not eliminate the fact that occasionally 'by chance, unconsciously, or as the result of temporary whim- we might encounter, in this sense, an effective or at least presumable confluence with Orient. In fact, and in spite of the reluctance of our artist, I myself cannot help but feel a certain degree of Zen reminiscence in the rhythm of the trace of the bare tremulous and solitary branch of the beautiful papers that the author groups under the simple 'title drawing in the garden, from nature'.
And, guess what, I myself have fallen into the trap since, as I was delving into the line I had described before as having an Oriental cadence, the whole thing has, as people say, backfired on me.
Since, having traced the lineage of the happy trace present in the artistic cosmos of Gonzalo Martín-Calero, an artist whose work is defined by the importance of the line for the genesis of his distinctive syntax, I suddenly realised that the drawing which belonged to the above mentioned garden drawing cycle was precisely, as I had suspected, an exception.
It is possible that nothing will finally deny the suspicious presence of Oriental influences in Martín-Calero's work, as present as the line which the artist presents as an articulated counterpoint to the expansive effusiveness of colour. And this distance reaches perhaps its most radical degree of eloquence, in my opinion, in another sequence, smaller in size, also present in this exhibition. I am talking, evidently, about the series of collages made up of fragments of canvas stuck on wood, where the diction of the line insists on resembling the relentless cut of a blade. A line opening a furrow or maybe a wound in the amorphous and indefinite plane of representation. A line, therefore, which has been drawn as if with a sward, in a decided and single thrust, sometimes slightly rectified, but always far from calligraphy.
A concluding echo, one could say, evanescent and mistaken, of a branch or a tree, of a border or a path, of the humpy profile of a hill, the line is always in these paintings, above colour 'which always needs density and atmosphere- that which gives them, without descending to imitation, their territorial condition. However, we must not be mistaken by what the beautiful titles Martín-Calero gives his artworks suggest, in their virtual reference to a landscape, season or precise moment. Since no matter how much the detonator may be associated with a concrete perception or experience, it isn't in the end, unlike so many other border abstractions, so much a resonance of the landscape 'stylized, structural or vaguely impressionistic- since our artist eliminates from the quintessential distillation of nature's sight all theatrical elements. Yet he still roots his syntax in a well-defined tradition. Generally speaking, a large number of the abstract proposals which appeared at the turn of the new century, and those which are misguidedly given the postmodern tag, Gonzalo Martín-Calero does not believe in pure abstraction since, in its inward looking formal codification he considers it a cog in the wheel which exhausts itself by turning in the void.
But, unlike the crossbreeding strategies developed by other postmodern abstract painters, his choice seems to reflect an attitude which tends to flourish cyclically in the art world and which adjusts to the idea of a return to the roots, or a desire to find the lost path.
It is convenient, however, at this point to jog our memory. The generation of pioneers which made the leap towards abstraction, the visionary group of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Kupka or Malevich all of them born between the decades of the 1860s and 1870s reached the threshold of last Century in their twenties. In this sense, they all had to produce the theoretical baggage which encouraged their emancipation from a simple representation of the world of phenomena, severing their links with symbolist groups, first of all, and finally expressionists.
Lionel Richard has pointed out the anti-naturalist vocation which impregnates, from all theoretical and creative sectors, the expressionist's panorama. A vocation which, in the case of Werner Hofmann, had as its logical conclusion the rejection of all objective reference after having exhausted the subjective process of interiorization of the artist's vision. An impulse which, strictly speaking, could be already found in symbolism's iconic stylization and responded to a desire, as Robert Rosenblum reminds us, which impregnates the Centre-European romantic tradition.
But all of them would identify a tendency towards modernist-type decoration as the greatest threat of this leap which, unlike in the Oriental tradition, was considered incompatible with greater artistic ambitions. In different ways, both finally found an answer to this question through the development of a syntax of transcendent character, generally linked to the theosophical ideology and the mystical reading that Steiner suggests in his comments to Goethe's solour Theory, which aims to reveal, beyond mere appearance, the world's essential intimacy.
I do not wish to insinuate the presence of a transcendent impulse in Gonzalo Martín-Calero's work. An impulse which, in any case, is far from extravagant since there have been many 'Steinerians' in the artistic scene of the last decades. But I do wish to highlight that, in his case, it is again the permanence of a link between the intimacy of the natural horizon what allows him to escape from the solipsist discourse. And with the equation he establishes, over colour's expansion, his pictorial diction continues revealing to the gaze glitters of the depths of an audible cosmos. Not an image, but a trace of his soul.
FERNANDO HUICI MARCH
Exposition Viridiarium (Barcelona - Burgos - Valladolid)
to what I am looking at
Behold a light flying towards a sigh, a sigh ending in a light, a light which provokes a stream of colours expiring in a breath.
A breath encouraging what I am looking at to become what I can see: star and head, head of a lively reflected light inter- twining: rays, lines;
a turning turn of endearing truths, almost written: flying algae or wings ascribed to surf; those waves, rhythm on beach,
verse, subtle verse, support for a kiss which draws scantly and in excess - ink chirping as it remains silent
THE GIFTS OF SPAIN
The gifts of Spain to the United States begin with Christopher Columbus. Every American school child knows the story of the adventurer who set sail in 1492 and bravely crossed the ocean to ?discover? the Americas. A national holiday is set aside to honor the man ?an Italian who received patronage from the Spanish crown? and so begins the story of the many nationalities who have made a new home for themselves in America. Voyaging across the seas may look like drawing a line across a map, but we know it is never a straight line, that the lines on the map are more conceptual than real, and that straight lines come more from scientists and than artists. Tracing the life of a line in art, coming from the Eastern or Western traditions of the role of lines in painting and thought, is a bold and exciting enterprise. I applaud my colleague, Gonzalo Martín-Calero, who traces the language of lines that connect us all between continents and concepts.
Stephanie A. Stebich
Tacoma Art Museum
the celebration of the world
Strong colours, smooth at first sight; extensions of reds, blues, yellows or greens, sometimes a confrontation among them, that it is an agreement, a settlement of intensities with in the same colour that refine it or makes it more dense than at other times, and always the complexity of the texture of what we saw smooth, and almost every time something than grows in that ambit, and that makes the one who is looking at it semm to be the one living in it. The painter's eye has confined it in the picture for this reason. From nature itself, the painter says. And, certainly, what appears on the picture has both its innocence and its happiness, its polisemy.
From the strictly picturistic point of view, we could say that Gonzalo Martín-Calero has tended to be more silent in his latest pictures. There is less intention by the painter, indeed, and less intervention to say, to mean or even to suggest, that we could say there is none; and there aren't ever any abstractions, but they are the result of a simple eye's glance, that only sees the essential. Not only lives but also colours, neither a certain composition, but only that which is beautiful and it stands on its own two feet like we could say about a sign of Japanese or Chinese writing that, when seen by an ignorant of its meaning, reveals to him that, although it doesn't mean anything to him, it sustains itself in the beautiful materiality of its written symbols.
Here the pictures and especially in the drawings we can see a certain 'japonesism' that I mentioned, but it is also in the writing on water or the view of a shadow by the painter are beautiful to see, like the mornings and afternoons of the world. You can stand in front of them and experience what they are, or to be more exact, the admiration that this beauty produces with in the heart of the painter, in short, its celebration.
In a moment when, on the lines of the present artistic dogmatic, we are offered the waste, 'le crachat', the dung and the cadaverous disintegration, the death of itself, the desolation, the superficiality of what is empty, mineral and minimum, the rubbish that would be the world, and the man, and the eyes that wouldn't have the comfort of witnessing such a beauty, these pictures, that are beautiful, burst into an odour like wet soil 'the Genesis's odour' a sunny and blue morning, a still afternoon, water, light, and the glory of what it is and lives in a thin line. And we, the audience, feel in the world, sharing the painter's admiration towards its beauty.
Platon said that we have been given our eyes to see the incorruptible stars of the sky, but also we have been given the painters to discover the incorruptibility of those other beauties whose exact image is in these pictures.
What do the drawings tell us? Because it is obvious that they say something, and in them, the oriental simplicity we mentioned before it is accentuated. But, anyway, his forms, and his delicacy or impression itself are like the lightning of this soul?s festivity, although, in an other way, because the world os so beautiful.
José Jiménez Lozano
The beauty of complexity
Gonzalo Martín-Calero, with whom I have the pleasure to work with in my Gallery, aims to transmit the complexity of the gaze, of visual experience. He plays with all his well-known weapons: the strength of colour, textures, his black lines, his colour lines, the superposition of elements. His paintings have become more complex. His desire is to multiply our vision and puzzle our experience. He descomposes his creations into independent units which overlap each other in a strangely complementary way, linked by something magic and subtle that traps the viewer, who does not know why what lies before him has reached formal plenitude. Is it the black line up above which harmonizes with that other one which can hardly be sen under a curtain of colour? Is it the black cloud, clashing against the delicacy of a blue ray? Is it because the lines I have before me seem intimately close since, without knowing it, they have been inspired by the fields of the author?s homeland? Each painting represents a fight, a game in which the author approaches playful and dangerously the line which separates success from failure. In the case of my friend Gonzalo Martín-Calero, an exhibition of great battles which have been won.
6 Little Haikus after Gonzalo Martín-Calero's essential colour
When nothingness was not a shade
the demagogy of the outline.
The tendencies of the blue
in your paintbrush
Spring and Castilla:
the logic of green
in your Eden of feigned explosion.
On the walls of the soul
a purple lining
seizes the flames.
in Van Gogh's sunflowers
until lost music has been found.
Red and yellow
mixed in a thimble
blow health into the orange grove.
Urgent letter to Martín-Calero
Here's to you, Gonzalo, friend. See: your business isn't to paint, it's a heart beat; it isn't art, but life.
A Spanish life, so inclined to all excess. You do not paint a blade of grass: you proclaim the last echo of grass in the high sphere, where the idea of grass nests, an idea which must be, daring to become idea.
This is why your colour is astral fragance feeding 'as clean dew feeds' the unpainted depths of the soul.
A soul which in your nights mirrors all the desire for a future light, all the mystery of achieved light.
To a painter
It imitates shadows and fascination
A diligent blur
The kipping drawing
It mutters an orbital colour
Which is blue, green or carmine,
That immense radiance
The perspective falls asleep
In an Ero's siesta of light
And peace involves the canvas
And so breath, voice, snowdrift
Eternity of beauty