Centro de Arte De Alcobendas, Madrid.
Del 16 de enero al 2 de marzo del 2019
“The eye becomes lost and remains so. Discovering that it is observing a cavity does not help in the slightest: the mystery is modified, yet endures, and even intensifies.”
There is no rest for those who dedicate themselves to painting. I sense that this is how Alejandro Botubol lives; he’s one of those painters who like to “make” paintings. It is no minor issue to look at how he turns to classical genres for his compositions, seeking to use light to show the time, and to define events. His Tapes are still lifes of tapes – masking tape, packing tape, duct tape in a range of colours… – but they are still lifes located in a landscape where colour is light. These mental images, these delicate constructs are much more than backgrounds, distancing us from their appearance in a very conscious pursuit of the atmosphere he wishes to create – perhaps recalling his early alfresco forays into painting. Colour thus provides the inner sound of these Tapes, the subtle yet dense memories of the artist’s studio.
Botubol’s previous works include eclipses and landscapes. These tapes now serve as a kind of imagery that leads the artist into the world of the baroque. Botubol’s least obvious work in the Macropintura exhibition held at the Ponce+Robles gallery already hinted at this solution. Now he has further decontextualised the object by memorialising it through provocatively playing with scale. The funny thing is how all these formal options share a kind of suspensed gestation, something we can find in painters as apparently different as Rembrandt and Zurbarán. Because what it’s really about is comprehending the effects. And this takes time. Think of Cézanne, Vermeer… Or Tuymans, who defined painting as a medium of expression with delayed effect.
Botubol confesses that in the last year of his work, the light entering his studio window at dusk has been of great importance. An ever-changing light which is transformed into landscapes, into paintings. This is where his ability to calibrate the painting comes into play, like a pianist tuning a piano. The colour reverberates and projects an air of mystery, and in many cases becomes a painting, or at least conditions one. In a manner reminiscent of the extreme reluctance to travel that made Morandi great, the artist abandons himself to the journey without leaving his studio, allowing the painting to occur, to take place.
Whether it’s a landscape or a still life based on packing tape, this authenticity allows him to work with different sedimentations, memories, experiences, or if you like, different steps and processes in order to create the inconceivable part of the painting, the trace of a secret side, akin to the murmur of something overflowing its limits. Especially if we look at how he subverts scale in a kind of trompe l’oeil. Botubol paints small events that bring him closer to the pleasure of being in the studio, the painting’s natural environment. In a way, it’s an understanding of the ephemeral, a suspension of reality, which contains an awareness of the passage of time. The painting turns in on itself and forces us to look again, distrustful, until we detect the resonance of his objects, as happened with his landscapes until recently.
This idea of painting a painting is not new. But doing so means delving into its eclipses and re-painting what has already been painted. Exploring the effects of the painting, but also its mechanisms, the day-to-day experience of painting. Light has always been able to discover spaces and objects, but also to fold them over by playing with chiaroscuro. In this case, light reaffirms the presence of the object, but the act of becoming present implies an interstitial tension. Light is offered as material, as a painting. Alejandro Botubol works on the fringes of reality, subverting the size of what is intimate, secret, mundane. Everything is shaped from an emotional, sensitive point-of-view. It’s a latent experience of the world, demanding that each observer projects their own way of seeing it. Paintings are distilled into a type of stage. A temporary reality. It is dizzying, yet serene; depth is summoned from the presence of the foreground. It’s as if the space is never defined. The observer’s gaze is destabilised; the painting proclaims itself inexhaustible, an active, transitive space.
In Alejandro Botubol’s paintings, stillness is expressed as a remembrance of the classical, where everything is in perfect order. However a critical interpretation of his work reveals the opposite; the emotion that is inherent in confronting the unresolved, and places capable of resonating in the observer’s gaze. This is why he advocates the serendipitous discovery of those studio sunsets where colour trembles and light peeks out, only to retreat once again. But also those flashes of baroque painting, as if wanting to move forward while at the same time retracing his own steps, only this time without leaving the studio.