VIEWS FROM THE ARCHIPELAGO
See yourself in the archipelago
fragmentary eye in tongue
which never ceases,
which dislocates itself.
A god without a home
Àngels Moreno, L’Usurpador, Biblioteca de la Suda 197, Pagès Editors, Lleida, 2017
This idea of discovery, of a fragmented look, encourages us to consider a journey to the work of Teresa Vall Palou, following a path that runs through the different layers that constitute her creative language.
It is certainly impossible for us to get close to the full meaning of a creation. We cannot hope to achieve this, but we can seek the most direct way to approach the multitude of perceptions suggested by the artistic work. Following the paths established by the philosophy of deconstruction, one possible way of achieving this would be to progressively separate the various skins that form it. Then, layer by layer, and piece by piece, we could eventually perceive the energy and strength that have progressively created it and which, at the same time, have gradually impregnated its expression.
Knowing its structure a little better allows us to progressively discover its meanings. In this way, step by step, we can then continue on this journey, which may well take us to no other door than that of knowing a little better which vibrations stimulate us and how the artist can enable us to arrive there.
Mírate en archipiélago runs through the creations of Teresa Vall Palou, offering several different possible readings, opening our minds to new attitudes and removing any preconceived ideas that we might have. The previous knowledge that we may have had of the artist dissolves into a path along which we find figurative works together with others of informalist expression, sculptures that dialogue with others that border on the surreal, form separated from colour, oriental signs in contraposition to the marks left by materials from our day-to-day environment, and work presented in dialogue with its own process of creation.
More than ever, we can say that each part is, in itself, a whole, and that each of the works can represent a piece of the language. However, at the same time, this is a whole which allows us to circulate, due to the constant movement of artistic creation. None of the works presented holds the key to a perfect interpretation of the knowledge of the artistic trajectory; none of them, in itself, allows us to say that we now know the work of Teresa Vall Palou; it does not give us the full meaning of its creation, although – on the other hand – it does bear the force of the path trodden and it is the sum total of all of the work that has been done.
We highlight the generosity of the artist who allows us this variety of readings of her work and who has the courage to offer us an exhibition in which each new space presents a different expression. The archipelago of small samples that form the exhibition carry us away from the desire for a uniform reading and leave us face to face with the awkward situation of having to abandon the comfort zone of that which we already know; each of the sections is a different parenthesis, isolated from the rest, but – at the same time – almost imperceptibly, it makes us discover how unity is gradually created from each of the differences.
Each section is a small, closed universe which, despite forming part of the whole, maintains its own identity and proudly shows off its difference. The journey for each of them brings us closer to the different worlds of:
PROCESSES, with a small sample of how the final work is reached, in which we often admire both the previous step and the result. They are works that allow us to discover not only how the artist has worked, but also how – at times – the itinerary followed to reach the work is as interesting as the work itself.
The valuation of the technical process, the recognition of the steps to follow in order to achieve the desired expression, is a way of directly and vigorously approaching the truth behind the work. Knowing its path is a way of getting closer to its reality and allows us to get a little nearer to it.
The plates for making the lithographs and the dry points show the work of the artist, but they also stake a claim to be recognised as works in their own right. The dialogue that is established between the lithographs and the aluminium plates – which are used to be emulsified and to hold the photolith, and which will be inked and stamped – has great power and allows us to discover variations in colour that repeat the message of the work.
The blue and red colour of the plates, which attract us with their beauty, do not, in reality, present us with an aesthetic option, but instead describe to us the possibility of being able to be reused (in the case of the blue one) or the impossibility of the plate making another impression (in the case of the red one). It is a simple example of the beauty of practicality.
The surprising acetates that are used to make the dry points allow us to see their wounds, their scratches, the accidents they have suffered as a result of the fire and other elements, to create a series of slits where the ink will accumulate and where a world of contrasts will stand out. After being inked, they are passed through tarlatana twice and finally passed through the press and then stamped. Its laboriousness, as a fundamental element of the creation of the piece, carries us away from false images of creators who seek to avoid form.
These are a group of pathways, experimentations and questions which, in an unusual way, offer themselves to us to be admired and discovered next to the work which will result from their experience and creation.
VOLUMES – “Volumes” shows us several works that are unusual in terms of the best-known parameters of the artist; they are figurative sculptures, some are of heads with an expressiveness that takes us back to the most ancestral of forms. The force of the primitive look makes us feel the sincerity of that which flees from artificiality and displays its own energy. The driving force behind these pieces is neither imitation, description nor naturalism, but instead, we are able to perceive in them a need to draw close to the most primeval expression of form, to flee from all that is not essential, and to draw closer to the force that emanates from the material.
The lack of colour, in an artist who works with it from different angles, is another sign of the importance that the dialogue with the material has in these works. It is no doubt for this reason that these works have been produced using the laborious technique known as Raku, which was used – particularly in Japan, from the end of the 16th century – by the tea masters, who were influenced by zen Buddhist philosophy. They saw in it a conscious return to the direct and primitive treatment of clay and to experimentation with the senses through contact with the earth.
The creation of these pieces is a process that passes through several different phases, each of which requires the passing of time and the work of the artist – one step at a time – which determines the final result and involves the use of two ovens: a conventional kiln for the first baking and then a raku kiln. Once the two pieces have passed through the two kilns, they are covered in sawdust and soaked in water to cool them; the result of the whole process is the characteristic black tone of the works.
COLOUR – Colour has been used since time immemorial as a symbol of different cultures and civilisations. It has been given the role of expressing feelings and beliefs and has been used by artists of different tendencies and styles to give form and strength to their works. It is now presented to us in the most minimalist of ways. Outside of all expression, its organisation into a series of chromatic ranges is used to make us aware of every subtle nuance. The work makes each colour develop before our eyes in ascending and descending relationships, forming an interplay of presences that are lost in its journey.
Painting uses colour as one of its basic axes, but in this case the artist reveals it to us in its purest state; but even then, it is made evident to us that it is the combination made by its creation which really has an impact on us and which offers us all its beauty in a natural way, without any artifices.
This series of groups of small rectangular traces of colours is a very clear and patent example of how the view of the artist, even when revealed as naked and free from interpretations and forms, accompanies us in the discovery of new and previously unknown perceptions.
WRITTEN SYMBOLS – One of the characteristics of Japanese art is the reinterpretation and simplification of the forms which, through different cultures and shapers of their history, have come to form part of its artistic language. In the same way, we find that through the reinterpretation of forms and their simplification, Teresa Vall Palou has arrived at pieces in which the symbol has become the central character of the work and – via her energetic brush strokes – she brings us closer to the very elements of nature. And she does this through simplicity, achieving it through linear forms and with the presence of open space, putting the main emphasis on these pieces: on a series of forms that flee from elaborate production and which – using few expressive media – bring us closer to elements that – being merely suggested – become completely transcendent.
OBJECTS – Without a doubt, this is one of the most surprising sections of the exhibition. Yet on the other hand, it is where we are shown the most intimate side of the artist. It is perhaps for this reason that some of the objects make us think of objects created by surrealists and based on the driving force of the subconscious.
A painter produces a work paying homage to the death of painting, presents a tape of the true history of her life, with a very ironic look at its characteristics, creates a section in which small balls lead us to multiple visions of expectant eyes, shows us meteorites from strange worlds and gives us a device that allows us to pass from reason to rage. Few are the times when we can contemplate, in such a small space, a set of works that are able to present us with the irony surrounding the work done in such a clear and forceful way.
The look that distances itself from all the dogmatisms associated with artistic work gives these works the singularity of contemplation from the ironic distance of the creative labour itself, something which is not at all frequent in the different fields that surround us, and even less so in the world of art. There can be little doubt that for all of these reasons, one of the most outstanding elements of this space is the book that pays homage to Joan Brossa.
FORMS – The central role of form, which appears in many of the works of Teresa Vall Palou, has been separated and shown in a more naked way in a number of works in which it occupies the whole space and is only reinforced through the subtle use of light.
Long, rounded, organic forms, of whatever geometry, have always been outstanding elements in the works of the artist. On separating them from the other elements which usually form part of the work, they are shown in their purest state.
The expression of its nakedness allows us to give it the central role, which is often hidden beneath the expression of the energy of the stroke, or the strength of the colour; in this way, we discover part of the forms used.
PRINTS – Lourdes Cirlot has told us since the very beginnings of informalism that “it reflects a deep unease, and, yet, it seeks to cling to something tangible: the material of the artistic work. By giving a decisive value to the qualities of the texture, informalist artists manage to underline the material nature of its manifestations”.*
Whether as a result of restlessness, whether through experimentation or perhaps as a result of the restlessness that accompanies the experimentation associated with the process of creation, the latest works by Teresa Vall Palou bear the hallmarks of the material encountered. It is an everyday material, which surrounds the day-to-day life of the artist; and is only transformed into a series of works of strong expression through the signal left in its wake; at times, it is positive, and at others negative, but it always bears witness to its form through red and black.
Different materials placed on different textures progressively create a series of drawings in which the absence of colour creates shapes and figures. Despite the importance of the raw material, it is difficult to recognise its origin, and the result is converted into reality through several series created using colours that energetically contrast.
The complete set of these pieces guides us towards a look that concentrates on the observation of several prints, but in reality, the strength of their forms avoids the anecdotical to instead delve into the experimentation of creation. It is no longer important where what we see comes from, but rather the final result of its action.
Once the archipelago has been visited and an introspective view formed – which is what the title of the exhibition proposes – we are conscious of the fact that from the vantage point of theory, we can observe the work from many different perspectives. We have even dared to sketch out links with primitive art, Japanese art, informalism, expressionism and surrealism, but we have deliberately avoided going into too much depth in a search for uncertain links; the works themselves tell us that it is best not to do this. Its journey demands our respect; in a certain way, we are told that if the works are shown in all their nakedness, if they have allowed us to separate them into small islands according to their expression, they do not give us their consent to fill them with artifices or with theories generated only by their partial contemplation.
From the distant silence of theory, but full of expressive force, we are shown that it is only from open contemplation and observation, from the wide viewpoint of artistic sensitivity, that we will be able to perceive the whole set of the creative impulse.
Fina Duran i Riu
*Lourdes Cirlot, “La pintura informalista a Catalunya” (Informalist painting in Catalonia). Text from the catalogue on Informalism in Catalonia. Painting, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, 27th September to 8th November 1990, page. 9