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Textos & others

Madrid. Friday, 23rd January 2009
Text for the BERLINER catalogue, Expression and Form. By Miguel Barnés. Published by the Centro Cultura de Caja Castilla la Mancha. Albacete 2009
THE PAINTING UNDER THE MOON (And the sound of the frogs)
That moon poured a thick blue light on the hot crown of young Sergeth. Warm from an accelerated rain of associations and ideas, which were expanding in his cocorota like a probe, after the last unforgettable visit to the master’s new studio.

The sound of his footsteps gave away the texture of the ground, although the huge moon made the landscape where he was standing visible. That bluish light brought to mind films where night scenes are shot in broad daylight, and then turn to a tone similar to the one he was now witnessing.

Under the monumental moon he again visualized the last paintings of the master. He thought that not only had they transformed the perception of that old castle (now a new studio) that housed them, but that they had turned the past of the enigmatic space into a veritable atanor in the making.

The master bought the old Templar castle taking advantage of an opportunity, certainly unlikely, just arrived from Burkina Faso. And beyond desecrating their past, the new tenant, who had expanded in materials and fabrics, added a new skin of history that gave them mutual prestige.

Sergeth dispelled some doubts in his nightly reflections after the visit. In this case, not only did the moon accompany him on the lonely, spicy night, but they also resolved the evening with an unbeatable soundtrack provided by some frogs and crickets.

He, who always postulated himself as a militant of a new revolutionary figuration for the arrival of the new paradigm, truly understood the work of his master.

The resonant echo of those paintings distilled their true essence.

Once the stage of learning and subsequent rebellion had been overcome, the expected and not always achieved stage of reconciliation towards the work of the master arrived; a stage of deep respect, maturity, humility and empathy.

He was shocked to discover the truth of that sincere and painstaking work.

The old castle; the new studio; its silence; its latent history; the echo that its walls produced to the calm and still enthusiastic words of the master turned the visit of that hot afternoon into something wonderful: a portal to the “other side”.

He remembered some words of the master: – “…when I settled in this old castle, its rotundity left me practically immobilized for almost two months. The silence and stillness filtered through me a subtle and forceful information that I still cannot explain in words… but I can show you in these images that now surround us…”.

The frogs and the crickets played a lively operatic confrontation that symbolized postulates in the young artist’s mind: abstraction-figuration, antique-contemporary… Who knows. Those images from the last years of his production were all that and much more. Sergeth, as he looked up at the round moon, thought that the work of his old master was another example of the very essence of what he had understood as art, and of what has not yet been fully understood. And he thought that it should remain so, for true art should have an ingredient sustained in the realm of the inexplicable, of extra-sensory experience, of the non-concrete and non-mental. Of the purest emotional abstraction.

All of the artist’s pretensions and ambitions merged with the craftsman’s humility. The master therefore resolved with exemplary elegance the figure of the painter and his trade. Altamira’s paintings and the most radiant contemporary consciousness were united in those enigmatic and evocative images that the master had channeled.

– “I plan to have this castle as my center of operations for many years to come, but I continue to enthusiastically plan future trips… you know, my nomadic spirit doesn’t leave me alone. I’m going to Germany for a few months. I want to see the work of the so-called “new school of Leipzig” up close, to see the work of the young Germans who are now taking over. Albert Oehlen has invited me to spend a few days in his studio, he wants to introduce me to Jonathan Meese, with whom he has jobs in common, and to Daniel Richter. I will also take advantage of the trip to see an exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, dedicated to the influence that Max Klinger left behind… From what I’ve read, this exhibition will be a must for me, as it is for you, I suppose. You should travel with me again, my dear Sergeth,” said the master with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Sergeth understood that there was no time in the works of his master.

He understood that in those paintings one could swing for the same cosmological existence. Witness the gestation of a frog or witness the very birth of the universe.

Numbered volumes, fields of light in continuous expansion, deep rings to the soul of the world; dáimones of science, secret places where silence and noise are confused. Violence, calm, love and psyche. Figure and background. Light and darkness.

The frogs warned that their feet were approaching a pond. Behind the tall reeds he could see the moon reflected in the water.

The night was clear and cold. His head, warmer. He felt like screaming. Also to paint and melt back into his work. He was absolutely thrilled. Vibrant.

He remembered the little pictures that were piled up on the big central staircase. They worked like a kind of broken door. The master made allusions to the history of deception; to Zeuxis, and even to Fontana’s incisions, as he dislocated those sinuous forms characteristic of his work, with deliberate strokes of effect that resolved splendid trompe l’oeil, which simulated some broken canvases.

And so, again, the dizzying comings and goings. Again the eye and the deception; the representation; the necessary illusion. Sergeth felt the impossibility of escaping the endless game once you know its rules. Everything is projection, and more so art itself. Plato’s shadow is long and wanders behind appearances. For an instant, everything was spinning.

He put his feet in the pond and felt the icy water seeping into his old boots.

Inevitably, the first image he kept of his master came to his mind: that radiant barefoot figure on two large buckets of paint. Wild; brave; in full execution of one of his already mythical performances. In that town of La Mancha, where that kind of thing was totally improbable.

Some frogs were silent for a moment, making way for the crickets in the background. He tried to make out the snowy mountains and, again, the frogs croaked to the sound.
José Luís Serzo