The Painting lives by dying

We usually suppose that exhibitions are about a Work or, at least, about works. But isn’t it so that what is exhibitted is just the evidence of a rupture, the balance of some logic that, having reached its own limit, has ended up tearing off in bets for impossible renewed futures? This, at least, is what the present exhibition suggests, which invites us to survey the vestiges of a deep rupture, still fresh, that has taken place along the pictorial journey of Beatriz Ezban. How shall we understand such a rupture? In what terms shall it be presented? How shall one approach what we are facing? As it happens with all events in painting, singularity of the rupture that we can here attest, makes sense only against that background curtain that is the challenge and impulse of all painting, namely the radical impossibility of pictorial articulation. If consistence in figurative expression is the impossibility to access the absolute referent, the abstract expression, on the other hand, consists of a not less unsuccessful attempt to put the painting operation itself visible beyond any representation will (I say not less unsuccessful because this last expression is unable to consumate itself without falling in the trap of turning the painting itself into a representation). Anyway, mimetic or not, painting is desired precisely because it is impossible. This is the great curtain that allows us to understand what is common between the broken of the rupture here exposed, and the breaker of new bets it has given rise to. On the one hand, if such broken and such breaker in this sample do nothing but watch themselves, on the other hand they fraternize on being two alternative responses to the riddle of the ultimate impossibility of painting.

Ezban originally chose the figure and form disintegration, until reaching more recently the extreme of eliminating lines and facing the white canvas with only the intention of applying color strokes. (This is not just any intention, if we consider that before texture, and of course, before form, the color acts as the possibility itself of graphic distinction, that is as the matrix itself of (im)possibility of pictorial articulation). And this path, running at moments the proper risks of a chimerical search for the essence of painting and chromatism, finally became a kind of automatism that leaves us a lot to think about. But before talking about such automatism, we should highlight that this path was rich during a long time, as we can appreciate in the works derived from that intense re-vision conducted by Ezban of impressionism and post-impressionism canvas that Jorge Juanes accurately characterized as “metapainting” (In fact, it was an intervention in the painting from the painting itself) and whose later samples can still be appreciated here. As to the automatism, it is paradoxical that this is precisely the final destiny of what in the beginning was a clear impulse to avoid any reiteration, not only showed in forms and figures, but also, and more radically, in simple lines. It would seem that such “metapainting” ended up being implied in what it intended to move away from. As if a return to the repressed figurative (or protofigurative) had taken place, return that we can understand better if we remember that, far from searching a rupture with realist seduction, the impressionists wished to represent the same reality of ocular “impressions”; that is, that despite of its opening to abstraction, impressionism was essentially figurative. It is ironic of a “metapainting” that, in spite of considering itself as such, it was finally discovered as another pictorial impossible articulation.

Unusually, the breaker of this exhibited rupture appears now, for a moment, under the hilarious appearance of the line, that ground for all representation possibility, for all form and all mimesis. The line, with all its implications, seems to have “come back”. Has our painter retired? Has she been overtaken by a classicist regression episode? Do we see a new defeat of an artist by that tyrannical ruin which is the history of painting? Not in my eyes. Because if Ezban’s “metapainting” was formerly captured by certain melancholy of plain representation, now the lines of her canvas are plainly displayed before the impotence to articulate. As opposed to the classical Line, these “lines” figure only despite themselves. They doubt, they are defined only to better draw its own caducity, without heroism, without show, without any “meta” prestige. The canvases take these “lines” upon themselves as they also take their illusions.

Against what it would seem, painting is another way of consigning the painting impossibility. That is, the wish to paint. Because painting lives by dying. Because the canvas itself, the great scenario’s curtain is the impossibility itself of pictorial articulation. Because, I insist, painting lives by dying.

Benjamín Mayer Foulkes
November 1998
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