Agua del Tiempo
Galería Llamazares, Gijón (Spain)
Del 15 de Septiembre al 16 de Octubre del 2021
AGUA DEL TIEMPO
Long before modern neurology confirmed it, the English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) intuited that our sensory perceptions are not passively recorded, but rather that we construct the experience as we experience it1. Often writing his poems in the garden of Dove Cottage, he defined the essence of poetry as an “emotion remembered in tranquility”2. His great contribution to modern aesthetics will be the enhancement of the imagination, that which arises when the physical eye is deactivated and is contemplated with «that power that owes nothing to sight»3. It is then that the poet is able to see beyond appearances and explore his inner worlds.
This historical note helps us approach the new works of Alejandro Botubol, endowed with a beauty that is only possible to achieve from the pictorial imagination, that is, from matter, light and color. Despite appearances, the central axis of his work is not located in a debate between the figurative and the abstract, but in a more lucid and complex place: one that articulates external nature and internal resonance in order to then transcend them dialectically. We end up in a place aesthetically and emotionally different from the one we inhabit in everyday life, but without leaving it. It is in this motion, which goes from the real to the imaginary, where the depth of his images lies, illuminating a visual pleasure that, like Venus, is born from the waters. The pleasure of the spill, the drag of paint on canvas.
The exhibition Agua del tiempo at Llamazares Gallery marks a new path in Botubol’s career. His current iconography emanates from the attachment to a specific place: the coasts of his native Cádiz, with the memory of the body in open space, his feet on the shore, marked by sand and saltpeter. In creating a space that is both physical and psychic which places him in a very specific conceptual field, our artist does not seek to delve into the picturesque (the singularity of place),nor does he seek to delve into the sublime (the fascination with immensity); his encounter with the sea is with the origin, in a triple meaning: the origin of life, of nature and of his own sensitivity to beauty.
The image of the coast, with the shore modulated by the rhythm of waves, symbolizes the subversion of any idea of permanence. Therefore, this return to the origin is not nostalgic or melancholy, but a true ritual of regeneration. The Lucero de la Mañana (Morning Star) triptych is the most resounding and synthetic formulation of this encounter between then and now. The primary colors—the very ABC’s of painting—have been moved to the upper edge of the canvas, out of the viewer’s gaze, but not out of reach: we perceive the subtle reverberation of magenta, yellow, and cyan, like light energy about to intensify. But the real protagonist of the triptych is the sepia monochrome, nuanced by the changing density of flows generated by the paint itself. A glimpse of wet earth, glossing the sediments of a pictorial-poetic mind in search of new conceptual crystallizations.
Perhaps some of these crystallizations are hidden in the installation 28 mensajes para una botella (28 messages for a bottle), constructed from remnants of the canvases that make up the exhibition. An invocation towards the future, but also a way of evoking his work in the studio where he carries out a way of painting that is born from the observation of objects themselves (ribbons, shells, pottery…) arranged under the normative essence of still life , that is, its thoughtful placement on a horizontal support4. The immobile relationship between these objects offers a fruitful starting point where what is relevant is practice, testing and analysis, just as the first vanguards of still life painting did, then converted into a true laboratory of formal reflections.
For Botubol, the study of light is one of the most significant features of his pictorial universe.
The objects’ volumes are studied with analytical precision, always in the heat of the evening atmosphere that enters through the window of his Madrid studio. Now, the image on the canvas is not built from imitation, but from the resonance of shapes and color. These everyday objects, translated into a particular pictorial language, emerge as «concrete wonders»5 that are born from everyday life. But Botubol also develops compositions linked to the tradition of abstract painting, with Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis as main landmarks. The combination of these two parameters (the everyday object and the chromatic veils) has given rise to some of his best series: in them, he combines the fixed and the spill, the iconography and the spectrum, what remains and what vanishes.
Botubol reflects with great lucidity on the various temporalities of creation and aesthetic reception6. In fact, one of his main objectives is to generate, through painting, his own time, a contra-tiempo (a hiccup), a poetic temporality that rescues us from the tyrannical advance of hegemonic chronology. This is also the case in the video that closes the exhibition, also entitled Agua del tiempo. In it, he speaks to us about the force of the telluric, the power of memory, the dense nocturnal spatiality, but, above all, about time as an emotional duration. The camera fixed on the maritime horizon evokes the romantic aspiration to unite the earthly and the elevated, the material and the spiritual, something that is expressed with special beauty in one of the most famous intonations of H lderlin’s Hyperion: «To be one with everything, to return, in blissful self-forgetfulness, to the whole of nature, this is the top of the mountain, the place of eternal rest where midday loses its suffocating heat and thunder loses its voice, and the boiling sea melts away resembling undulating wheat fields.”
Carlos Delgado Mayor
Art critic, Madrid.