Updated Mar 16, 2019 | 12:00 IST | Prof. Pilar Viviente
Juan Caravaca at the Center d’Art L’Estació
Prof. Pilar Viviente
The horror of the fixed
The uncertainty of vision
The dissolution of the present
And nothing else.
The present continuous
The pleasure of painting and dreaming
The contemplation of beauty
The fullnees of being
That’s the ultimate goal of the painter
And if this is what the painter is looking for, he is going against the current, trying to live the essence of oneself before copying the other and, in doing so, transmits a certain avant-garde idea that is not indifferent to us. Our age “has no idol or taboo, we are governed by emptiness, a void that does not involve, neither tragedy nor apocalypse” (Lipovetsky, The Era of Emptiness). But this time of pleasure and personal expression demands more fantasy and originality, and also less stereotypes and fatiguing repetitions.
To live is at the same time to want and to resist. In effect, resistance is what defends us from all militancy or fanaticism. “The foolishness (the lack of talent, imbecility), essentially, militates”, as the painter Braque said. Times have changed since then and, at the same time, they have not changed. Painting, and art in general, continue to be a form of resistance. The present fully accepted is not a harbinger of a better destiny and does not prepare the optimism of the future. Moreover, can we not talk about existentialism in the era of emptiness?
Facing the logic of emptiness and the consumerist culture of the welfare society, reflection and introspection are necessary; in the face of pleasing social slavery, personal liberation is erected; In short, the vacuum of which Lipovetsky speaks is preceded by a mode of individualization with which to overcome narcissistic apathy, individualism and self-pleasing liberalism. From there, in broad strokes, two main aesthetic currents are derived that, at present, group disparate artistic expressions: Those that place emphasis on the subject and personal liberation, and those oriented towards social consciousness and political or social values involved. Both trends also coexist in their polarity, emphasizing one or the other aspect.
Do not forget the abyss that we must transcend in private and public life. In a speculative market that puts pressure on artists and collectors, it is easily forgotten that aesthetic satisfaction does not respond to interests, because it moves through passions. The work of art, stripped of its most human sense, becomes pure merchandise, decoration, banality. The original meaning of Juan Caravaca’s work is that of resistance through emphasis on the subject and personal liberation, a way of pictorial individualization that becomes more evident if we remember the artist’s natural evolution.
From 1996 to 2019, Juan Caravaca’s trajectory shows a process of formal depuration that leads the painter from figuration to abstraction, and within the latter, in a markedly lyrical personal drift, from geometric abstraction to organic abstraction, although some constants are maintained such as the orthogonal composition, the tonal contrast, the vibrant and saturated colors or the subtleties of the nuances from a tone. Observe, moreover, that geometric abstraction, one of the aspects of abstract art characterized by the use of different geometric forms, tends in Caravaca to merge with organic abstraction, that which is based on forms of natural organisms, to give life to paintings that move away from reality while evoking nature.
What nature is it? In brief, that of the forest, in the broadest sense of the word. Under the title “Path of the woods” Juan Caravaca presents a collection of paintings of different format, a painting of 160 x 400 cms, six of 150 x 150 cms, about twenty of 150 x 100 cms, two of 100 x 100 cms and between six or eight of small format. The work that we present is the Caravaca of always, but more synthetic and condensed, more essentialist. In this device that is the synthesis the painter renounces the anecdote. Free associations and creative spontaneity act as selective impulses that divest the Self of the Other, freeing itself from excesses, from the gratuitous surface. We attend an economy of the strictly necessary for which Caravaca renounces the rhetorical figures of the previous period. The painter has abandoned geometry and its reticles to free oneself in the accidents of matter, the magic of chance forms, to the vital event more than to the sentimental one, to the gesture and internal animation rather than geometry, meat more than grid, the biological life before the concept.
Consequently, it is understandable that in these paintings dominates the informalism, the free gesture and frayed shapes without fixation or spatial anchorage. This unique trace is mutating, transforming from surface to surface, from canvas to canvas, and is associated to the primordial gesture, the origin of all forms of life that burst from nothing. That is why the work is more intimate and essentialist, more organic and less geometric and mechanistic. It brings me the life of the sea, its active and living essence. According to one of the brightest minds, my friend the art critic Arnau Puig, the grace of informal works is that they admit any opinion. So, I invite the reader to enjoy the work in the multiple interpretations that its journey allows and concludes by itself. But before such pleasure for the senses and the intellect, let me finally add a paragraph of Merleau-Ponty (1961) that in the context of this exhibition it acquires all its greatness.
“When I see through the thickness of the water the tiling at the bottom of the pool, I do not see it despite the water, the reflections, I see it just through them, by them. If there were not these distortions, these streaks of sun, if I saw without this flesh the geometry of the tiles, then I would stop seeing it as it is, where it is, namely: further than any identical place. The water itself, the aqueous power, the syrupy and shimmering element, I can not say that it is in space: it is not elsewhere, but it is not in the pool. She lives in it, she materializes in it, she is not contained in it, and if I look up at the cypress screen where the glint network plays, I can not dispute that water visits it too, or at least sends its active and living essence to it. It is this internal animation, this radiation of the visible that the painter seeks under the names of depth, space, color.” (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, L’oeil et l’esprit, Paris, Gallimard, 1993, p. 70-71).