Alejandro Botubol
From 15 September to 30 October 2021

Long before current neurology confirmed it, the English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) intuited that our sensory perceptions are not registered passively, but we construct experience as we experience it [1]. He, who used to write his poems in the garden of Dove Cottage, defined the essence of poetry as an “emotion remembered in tranquility” [2]. His great contribution to modern aesthetics will be the enhancement of the imagination, the one that arises when the physical eye is deactivated and is contemplated with “that power that owes nothing to sight” [3]. It is then that the poet is able to see beyond appearances and explore his inner worlds.

May this historical note serve to bring us closer to the new works of Alejandro Botubol, endowed with a beauty that can only be achieved from the pictorial imagination, that is, from matter, light and color. Despite appearances, the central axis of his discourse is not located in a debate between the figurative and the abstract, but in a more lucid and complex place: one that articulates external nature and internal resonance to transcend them dialectically. The result is a place, aesthetic and emotional, different from the one we inhabit in everyday life, but without leaving it. It is in this impulse, which goes from the real to the imaginary, where the depth of his images lies, illuminating a visual pleasure that, like Venus, is born from the waters. Pleasure of the spill, of the dragging of the paint on the canvas.

The exhibition Agua del tiempo, at the Llamazares gallery, represents a new itinerary in Botubol’s career. His current iconography emanates from his attachment to a specific place: the coasts of his native Cádiz, with the memory of his body in the open, with his feet on the shore, marked by sand and saltpeter. A space at the same time physical and psychic, which places him in a very concrete conceptual area: our artist does not seek to delve into the picturesque (the uniqueness of the territory), nor into the sublime (the fascination with immensity); his encounter with the sea is with the origin, in a triple sense: the origin of life, of nature and of his own sensitivity to beauty.

The image of the coast, with the shore modulated by the rhythm of the waves, symbolizes the subversion of any idea of ​​permanence. Therefore, this return to the origin is not nostalgic or melancholic, but a true ritual of regeneration. The Lucero de la Mañana triptych is the most resounding and synthetic formulation of this encounter between then and now. The primary colors – the very ABC of the painting – have been displaced to the upper edge of the canvas, out of the viewer’s gaze, but not out of reach: we perceive the subtle reverberation of magenta, yellow and cyan, as a light energy about to escalate. But the true protagonist of the triptych is the sepia monochrome, nuanced by the variable density of the flows generated by the painting itself. A glimpse of the wet earth, which glosses over the sedimentations of a pictorial-poetic mind in search of new conceptual crystallizations.

Perhaps some of these crystallizations are hidden in the installation 28 messages for a bottle, built with scraps of the canvases that make up the exhibition. An invocation towards the future, but also a way of evoking his work in the workshop, where he carries out a way of painting that is born from the observation of objects themselves (ribbons, shells, earthenware …) arranged under the normative essence of the still life , that is, its thoughtful placement on a horizontal support [4]. The immobile relationship between these objects offers a fruitful starting point when what is relevant is the essay, the test, the analysis, as demonstrated by the interest of the first avant-gardes in the still-life genre, which has then become an authentic laboratory of formal reflections.

To Botubol, the weighting of light is one of the most significant features of his pictorial universe. The volumes of the objects are studied with analytical precision, always in the warmth of the evening atmosphere that enters through the window of his Madrid studio. Now, the image on the canvas is not built from imitation, but from the resonance of shapes and color. These everyday objects, translated into a particular pictorial language, emerge as “concrete wonders” [5] that are born out of the everyday. But Botubol also develops compositions linked to the tradition of an abstract and flowing painting, with Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis as the main landmarks. The combination of these two parameters (the everyday object and the chromatic veils) has given rise to some of his best series: in them, he combines the fixed and the spill, the iconography and the spectrum, what remains and what it disappears.

Botubol reflects with enormous lucidity about the various temporalities of creation and aesthetic reception [6]. In fact, one of his main objectives is to generate, through painting, his own time, a counter-time, a poetic temporality that rescues us from the tyrannical advance of the hegemonic chronology. This is also the case in the video that closes the exhibition, also titled Agua del tiempo: in it, he talks about the strength of the telluric, the power of memory, the dense nocturnal spatiality, but, above all, about time. as an emotional duration. The fixed camera on the sea horizon evokes the romantic aspiration to unite the earthly and the high, the matter and the spiritual, something that is expressed with special beauty in one of the most famous intonations of Hölderlin’s Hyperion: “To be one with everything living, to return, in a happy forgetfulness of himself, to the whole of nature, this is the top of the mountain, the place of eternal rest where the noon loses its suffocating heat and the thunder loses its voice, and the boiling sea becomes it resembles undulating wheat fields ”.

Carlos Delgado Butler

Art critic

Exhibition held in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Gijón Impulsa

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