a very human rationality
The intense responses which the artworks of both Enrique Brinkmann and Verónica Vázquez conjure up in us relate to one of the principle dilemmas which govern our lives: the need for order, whilst contemporaneously nurturing a primal desire for freedom. The evident sense of structure and geometry, which exists in nearly all their works, is subsequently torpedoed by what takes place within the apparently rational space. The emotivity derives from that unresolvable tension; the coldness which lies behind rationality and the passion which is inherent in the gesture for liberation from the shackles of perfect form.
The importance of ‘memory’ as a reference point features either directly or indirectly in many of the artists’ pieces. Brinkmann’s most recent body of work entitled ‘Cambrico’ takes its inspiration from the writings on ancient stone tablets found in many of the world’s major archaeological museums. However, Brinkmann’s sculptural paintings appear to reference an undeciphered text of a ‘lost’ people. In Vázquez’s case memory is an ever-present, as she gives new purpose to household objects or banal materials that she finds in her home or studio, which have had far more prosaic functions before being inserted into an art work.
Vázquez’s practice embraces the philosophy of ‘Arte Povera’ and it is here that the strong ‘poetic’ element to her sculptures resides, as it is those very objects that represent the soul of her practice. Her transformation of simple, purely utilitarian objects into a completely new context makes them transcend the way we normally see them. Suddenly these same objects are imbued with a sense of ‘poetry’ renewing in us the ability of art to change the way we look at the world. Moreover, her attention on things that have lost any sense of usefulness in our contemporary societies, such as old typography boxes and cloth making tools long out-of-date, create a strong sense of nostalgia for forgotten times. Her juxtaposition of contrasting materials such as wire and paper, string and iron and iron and paper shows us these materials in a new light. Any material, however simple, awakes in Vázquez myriad possibilities of how to shape form. The idea of writing and particularly paper represent a continual undercurrent in many of the artist’s works; pen cases, books, paper on occasions with text on occasions without and typographical materials where emptiness and fullness are fundamental.
Since the end of the last century, Enrique Brinkmann’s paintings have always been concerned with a declared or suggested geometrical structure; an unequivocal sense of order allied to a rationalisation of space, which is then disrupted with his supremely painterly or graphic interventions. Brinkmann’s artistic longevity enables him to stand as a symbol of so much of the history of Spain since the 60’s and beyond. His highly dramatic works, which he made whilst Franco was alive, gave way to a new-found freedom on the dictator’s death. His gradual abandonment of the figure in favour of abstraction led to a fascination with Japanese minimalism and ultimately to an interest in ancient artefacts containing the earliest testimonies of written language.
The exhibition will focus on three distinct moments of his career: The 1970’s when he was still hanging on to a semblance of the figure and painting on conventional surfaces; the first years of the twentieth century when he was working with transparency and using a metal mesh as a support and his latest works, the afore-mentioned ‘Cambrico’ series where he has returned, after some 14 years to conventional surfaces. However, notwithstanding the artist’s hunger for new experiences, there has always been a constant coherence underlining every different moment in his career.
An insight into the thinking behind each artist’s approach is that both make use of wire in certain works. Whereas for Vázquez the wire serves as a grid on which she can then attach her various objects, for Brinkmann they became fundamental to his practice for about 16 years. Searching for a way to put air between the pictorial space and the wall, he began using a metal mesh made up of a series of closely packed wires which would enable light to pass through the holes in the mesh. However, as his need for continual change was pushing him to become ever more minimal, he began using the wire as the predominant element of the finished artwork. Both artists utilise empty space as a constant protagonist in their works: the objects or gestures increase in importance as they assume the function of punctuation marks interrupting the void surrounding them.
The connections between these two artists from different generations manage to create a unique dialogue that enables us to see each of them in a new and richer light.