Francisco Calvo Serraller
WINDOWS
Utopia Parkway Art Gallery 1999-2000
Exhibition catalogue

 

Besides it’s analogical power, the old metaphor describing the painting as a window has such relevant density that it refuses to disappear, even after many years of dispute, not only the actual form of the painting in the easel and it’s illusory representation, but paint itself. Not even the endless repertoire of jokes which modern irony has made use of, form and content, against that of what the painting had as an open window –reality, according to traditional point of view– has succeeded in destroying the evocative suggestive force of this metaphor, which is more than capable of transcending the material fact of the conventional painting and adapt itself to new techniques or formats. In fact, perspective can go out of fashion, figurative representation and even paint itself, but, how can you take away what art has of illusion without making it disappear?

Illusion, besides any of its historically practised effects, is projective by nature, it transcends the limits of the real and opens a new horizon of expectations. In this sense, it is indifferent how it is done, by means of a painted picture or by means of a screen, if we don’t want to abandon the visual arts, since what matters is the capacity of blocking and piercing reality such as it is showed to us –before us. It is true that it’s not enough with being a visionary or a dreamer in order to be called an artist, bur without rising up against the daily visual horizon, without the wish to avoid reality, art just would not be.

The window, as illusion, gets together two worlds, two dimensions of reality, but unlike a door, which also does it, is less predetermined by the specific function, physically , of going in or out of a place. It is possible to leave or enter through a window in a low building, you may even jump into the unknown, and what makes it possible is lighting, the passing of light.

The exterior, or rather: nature has been a recurring motif in Concha Gómez-Acebo’s painting, so she was, as it were, predestined to converge with the subject of the window. It is not the first time she paints them, but I would go so far as to say that the window is the main subject in the present exhibition. There are many paintings in which a window can be seen in the background, and there are some in which the limits of the image are window frames; but the most relevant is that when we do not see it the window is also present. That is the case, a sobering one, of a pair of paintings, in which there are large windows, shaped like an artist’s palette that lets us look at landscapes, which show us that Concha Gómez-Acebo conceives paint as an opening, as a hole made in reality in search of illusion. She is not satisfied with what she sees, but wants to transfigure it. Concha Gómez-Acebo paints, in short, illusions and, of course, is thrilled about painting.

To insert a landscape with the shape of a palette within another landscape can be taken as an illusionist game, in this case more a window game than a mirror one, but the repertoire of insertions with which she takes us to other places, imagined or remembered by her does not end here.

Her paintings are full of reminiscent icons, sometimes so tiny as stamps, that shows us that you can wear a printed shirt with a thousand evocative images from other landscapes; that, it is possible to wear a portable museum. Long before art were an object and that a museum were a collection of objects, the tattooed primitive bodies were; at the same time, the first known examples of genuine portable museums, they carried badges, dream-catchers, good luck charms, tokens, all that, wishes and hopes, could mean, and, above all, give meaning to the person who carried them on their own skin. Tattooed bodies are wounded bodies from a will of significance, and its motifs, genuine windows made of light, gleaming wounds.

Concha Gómez-Acebo does not have a tattooed body but a tattooed mind with dreams that open windows “in” and not “towards” reality; that is: windows that go through her and take her place. For example: it is possible that Concha Gómez-Acebo may have travelled around the world and may drag behind her a tail of longing, but even if she has not moved from home it is certain she would have let her imagination run wild. Ernst Bloch wrote that now that everyone is close at hand, we don’t go anywhere. He was right. The important thing about travelling is the expectation, the thrill, of finding other things, and that is the reason why the fundamental thing about a journey are the previous arrangements, that fascinating preamble of not knowing if one is setting out to the “you will go but you will not return” castle, which is the journey from where there is no return trip. That castle of no return, that every real traveller yearns for in its heart, it is approachable only for those who know its secret, in the “abracadabra” of illusion, even if they never go out from their room. In fact, in the present exhibition, the one I just described as an exhibition that deals with windows, Concha Gómez-Acebo brings up the four cardinal points like projections of an interior, of an intimacy.

There is a painting that portrays a young girl, laying on a sofa, she is placidly reading a book in which cover we have a glimpse of a woman’s naked bust. Here we have a genre theme, of a very noble Dutch lineage. But there is more. Behind this forefront, between the sofa and some curtains, there is a folding screen, which panels show us consecutively a street view, the image of a beach, a map, and a painting were Salome is carrying in a tray the slit head that has just been cut from Saint John the Baptist. Here we have the exaltation of illusionism! The happily absorbed young girl lets her imagination fly through reading, surrounded by a screen tattooed with evocative images, each of them takes us to a world of experiences, wishes, fascinations, and fantasies, and, above all, without moving from the sofa!

Among classic genre, there are also a series of still-lives with allusions to the senses. All of them are presided by painting, which is the major illusion for Concha Gómez-Acebo, but although we can also see in them books, musical instruments, shells, clocks, plants, water jars and another allusions referring to the passing of time and to the different objects that take us to the vain and brief senses –characteristic to this genre– what you perceive in these paintings is the transitive power of all this, the great beyond that carries the material nature surrounding us. In this sense, these “vanitas”, more than elegiac reflections, bring us to escape. They seem to say: “Anything around you, even the most insignificant, is in itself a whole world and can take you to unsuspected worlds, to the unknown”.

This is an exhibition about travelling interiors, a pilgrimage to stars with none other airship than a window hole which narrowness does not prevent the most amazing cosmic navigation. Could it be because the best way to contemplate landscape is from the interior, physical or mental?

With these comings and goings, it cannot surprise us that Concha Gómez-Acebo has frequently visited the Mythic Pantheon. The fairy godmother of this exhibition is capricius Titania, always prepared to pester at any time in summer nights. Seated in her tree-like throne, she weaves and undoes illusions, in which she herself falls, flushed by loves and nocturnal moods. Well then, this fanciful magician, with her court of fantastic maids, reveal s for us her most treasured dream like in a cameo in the shape of a palette. It is the spell of paint, the glass to see the invisible, which is also part of reality.

Concha Gómez-Acebo paints illusions, as I said before briefly, she is thrilled by painting. Painting is an illusion and it is possible to paint illusions, but, besides, one can be inspired with painting. There we have three different pictorial kinds of connecting with the illusion. I think that the three of them meet in Concha Gómez-Acebo, whose illusionistic capacity is, therefore complex. So complex, at least, as a magic mirror game, that in her case we could name window game, not only for its transitive will, but for what it has of pictorial from light, in fact, the passing of light. As I mentioned before, in painting, the window has a lot of possibilities, even when modernity destroyed the representative sense that traditionally took place in this metaphor. Didn’t Mondrian paint walled windows?

In a very positive modern way, it is true that someone may claim that what do they care if Concha Gómez-Acebo is thrilled with painting. The thing is that if one considers the issue from a modern structure point of view, I don’t know. Nevertheless if we restore to artistic illusion its original, absolute and private nature, then, it is crucial that a painter is determined to paint. Painting is transformed in a supernatural act: because, it acts over nature, but also it shatters its fate, its monotony. Concha Gómez-Acebo opens herself wide-open, like a window, and in this way she enlightens the world, because otherwise, how could Titania display herself with her long train of illusions?