From painting in the air, speaking to vacuity

“And painting shall be obliged to set aside what is dispensable: the representation” says Jorge Juanes in a text about Beatriz Ezban’s work. This author analyzes, in other terms, the way in which the artist’s production is inserted in the sum of layers that conform the history of visual forms, highlighting, among other aspects, the unavoidable: its link with impressionism. The same catalog contains another prologue, written by Ernesto Guzmán.

Facing both readings, a third approach to Ezban’s aesthetic experience produces the idea of certain enjambment: if her painting relies on that consciousness of artistic historic knowledge, this new approach has the risk of inserting itself in a kind of rewriting of such texts. There we have the analogy between the two processes: the language that frames and builds the painting and the writing that reflects on it. And what probably occurs is something that seems to be a specific condition to both tasks, painting and writing: a constant rewriting – in the painting’s material and the writing’s material- as if that writing (and rewriting) comprised unavoidable marks: jammed with our traces, our names, our compulsions, deposited on the internal and external vision, the painting’s body and the writing’s body take to the swinging inflection of that other signature, always displaced and nevertheless, always present: that of our own bodies.

If the task is, then, rewriting us incessantly, this kind of corporeality continues being displaced towards the painting’s centrality and has known –during Beatriz Ezban’s trajectory- several instances. Around 1990, the completely yellow surfaces abounded. That is, the color was established as an excluded nucleus from the image; however, another element was sharing such protagonism: the paint stroke, enunciating and connotative to “tell” the spectator that what he was seeing was nothing more than painting. Later on –until very short time- the canvases where the green prevailed and where the stroke, the material thickness and the chromatic diversity unchain a reflection in situ on the discovering of impressionists and post-impressionists. But there is more about these landscape remembrances, an added value that exceeds the election of abstract as a pertaining zone: Beatriz Ezban realizes a trimming in nature’s vision so as to proceed to fragmentation as constitutive and symbolic spring of dissolvent capacity, memory disoperation. In such context, the painting comes from a series of intermediations that go from the observation to the memory of what was observed, from that evocation to its stumped persistence in the retina, and from that retrospective fragile visualization to the concrete consistence of what is painted. In sum, a temporal sequence that the image once built, completes and eliminates at the same time, converting it again to the painting’s unique time and absolute present. That is the operation opened by the fragmentation. And starting from it, the painting emerges as a field ruled by its own rules which attire several shades: it can variegate in shapeless paintbrushes or distend itself in calm and diagonal brush strokes; stretch its thickness or allow the subtle waving of insinuated plans. It is, in conclusion, a field full of flotation and soft mutations, which undulates and soothes, flashes brilliantly in soft tones and darkens; seldom gloomy, a rough, aggressive density reigns in some paintings.

We will never know why an artist needs to maintain, for a certain time, soft variations on the same image. These are the enigmas of a practice the only certainty of which concentrates on its strict visuality which, at the same time, “shoots” other enigmas. Shoot!, which is translated into Spanish as dispara, is the title of this exhibition whose second section abandons the rich line screen and changes the element organization towards an opening, literally speaking. Through a lighter and more washed paint application, there is a new significance of the surface that highly dimensions its spatial capacity. On the other hand, those small and superposed strokes –those of the previous stage- that kind of arch-writing that crossed over a clogged field, are substituted by large and thick dark lines in the most recent paintings.

Those long stripes are intercepted, move away and approach, traveling through space in different directions: vertically, diagonally and horizontally; and generating contrasts between background and form. But, what forms are we talking about? There are no forms but another substitute mechanism, precisely because stripes here permeate the possibility of becoming forms and figures, they emerge just as their clues, thus making feasible another conformation of pictoric arch-writing. A good example is in a painting that functions as a transition: some curved lines outline certain delicate viscerality, as if it were the veiled, secret contour of a human figure.

The exposition includes a triptych titled Stark (hard, rigid), whose synonym bleak expresses “something exposed to wind and cold”. Despite its bold abstraction, this work allows analogies with a desolate, calm and abysmal landscape, all this within a restless simultaneity. A simultaneity that, in this and other paintings of the last collection, touches, rubs, a border, an edge, up in the air, in suspense. Beatriz Ezban, the painter who only two months ago filled her canvas completely without leaving any empty space, now presses the other side of the pendulum: she searches, she drills space, she shows its nudity; in sum, she places her painting on the fluctuating crossing line between attraction and horror of vacuity.

Lelia Driben
November 1998
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