Generation after generation, visual artist have strived to reveal, more or less explicitly, the nature of reality. A proverbial intuition and a relationship that I would dare to classify as a magical use of materials, amongst other virtues, has had as a consequence a constant advancement towards this goal throughout the centuries. I refer here to the reality of an essence that makes everything possible, which unveils itself before our senses and acquires its own existence. An essence, which we believe nowadays comprises of material, energy and information alike, at least in our universe that involves and includes us at every level, and would not appear wise to deny. Nor is it reasonable to deny the fact that the progress realized by visual artists has been interspersed constantly by surprises and novelties, including traditional circles that were not directly related to artistic practices.

One of the first impressions before the exhibition of the Spanish artist, Olga Andrino hosted at the Cervantes Institute is the transmission of a potent visual energy. Our perception immediately responds to the chromatic proposal that comes from the surface. However, in continuation our attention is powerfully drawn to the repetitious crowds of people that unfold before our eyes. It seems that the principal theme, the multitudes, are represented through the fusion of painting and sculptural techniques as well as the occasional photograph, which unites all the materials without, however a trace of digital technology. Speaking plainly, that in itself, is a valiant declaration of principles before contemporary art practice. On the other hand, we are captivated by the strength of associations that we are able to create in our minds no sooner than listen to the term or visualize the representation of the crowds. From my memories emerge images of the city and ordinary human beings, individualism and the national state, peace and violence, privacy and public domain, lies and the truth, of crime and the history of law and order. Of the wheels of Power, democracy and dictators- hip, identities and nationalism, the loved and loveless, poor and proud, flatterers and the flattered...etc. There are also those out there who do not understand neither the solitude nor those who enjoy it, those who enjoy art and those who do not understand it and sadly, reject it, and consequently frequently and forcefully reject us.

Whenever I contemplate her works in more detail and reflect upon what I see, it comforts me to remember and validate once again that, a piece of art is above all, at least in some people’s view, a visual energy and, in the last extreme, vibrating color and light. Incidentally and putting it more succinctly, good painting meets such requirements beautifully. Furthermo- re, in all cultures exist an intimate association between illumination and divinity, between light and creation, being understood in the latter case in all its possible expressions. Light that impulses life, nourishes the spirit, contains all the secrets of the universe and consequently inspires science, religion and naturally art and her intermittent satellite, which is none other than beauty. Moreover, in the case of Olga Andrino, in her particular search for time lost, beauty and solitude have united through a constant crisscros- sing of pathways in our present age: the crowds. Therefore, I ask myself if I am before an artist whose work finds inspiration in another reoccurring paradox in the contemporary world. Amongst other things, the crowds have continued being, for two hundred years an ideal place to encounter solitude if you so desire it and love artistic practice, especially if you are, by nature an individualist. To be therefore encapsulated within signifies for a sensitive conscious, solitude within a group of individuals, habitually centered on their egotistical interests, and within an instant transported to the desired field of intense creativity. An idea of the crowds as a catalyst for the creative will that puts hands to work in order to overcome the disorder, the contingency and attraction for the ordinary, while simultaneously, reinforcing within the desire for the exceptional and fragile. The desire to feel and put intentions in order that exists after the events that occur on the exterior, whether they be political, social, economical, artistic etc.... At the same time, there arises in the artist’s mind the need to produce beauty as representation while resonating the complex order that underlines that which we call nature.

For some time, crowds have been a reoccurring theme in Art. Without doubt, references exist in literature, cinema as well as the visual arts. Speaking only of Spain, Antonio Saura and Juan Genoves come to mind. However, nowadays there exist even more of an obvious reason to explain why this is so: our world is saturated by every type of information as more than ever, mankind is condemned to experience accumulations and repetitions of every kind. Behind all this, our mind effortlessly perceives groups of people, with their strange existential void and perdition that apparently leads to nowhere. Abstract crowds that our senses place beyond any such political and activist context, beyond propaganda, even beyond any affirmation or generic denial. In this sense, Olga Andrino’s works, if we could term them static images occasionally approaches photojournalism in its relation to temporal space, provokes a mental bloke or even more accurately, a dilemma. Shall we be carried away by the powerful current of superficial events that act like a giant magnet or dare to plunge into the pool of passion for people and things? That the art each civilization creates does not lie about the most essential aspects of individual life from which it is comprised is a given fact. To elucidate upon this further with some significant examples, there was the point of view of the classical Greeks, with their iridescent evolution of individual identity and highly competitive ego, and likewise Islam’s creative perspective of a perfect master plan that evokes an earthly paradise going far beyond an egocentric position. The refinement of the individual conscious in a world full of distractions proposed by Buddhism is not far from this truth either and without doubt, we could find many other examples.

The art works we can contemplate under the title in lingua franca “Crowds” also suggest a mental (and spiritual) journey through the territory of the artist’s craft. Accompanied by her devotion towards an arduous, direct contact with physical material which is vital in order to consider the work of her own making and not exclusively through a cold ready made ensemble, Olga Andrino manages to convey, in the first person the joy of experiencing how our lives lean out, whether we know it or not, towards the artistic creation of the times we live in. A journey, from the artist point of view, that departs from an extraordinarily simple premise: a never ending curiosity for its surroundings, especially for the social accident we have agreed to generically call crowds and passion for pictorial and sculptural practice, in this case being both intrinsically linked, as tends to be the case, with all the artists that freely move from painting to sculpture and vice versa. Much less straightforward, is her pictorial vision which is extremely subjective while being, at the same time didactic, whose experience with lines, volume, chiaroscuro, the perception of space and color obsessively transcribes the accumulated impressions of visual language, which strangely becomes objective; and as if, almost without thinking, something enters our hearts which will always remain. It seems magical, but was not the great genius Isaac Newton an alchemist as well as a physicist, mathematician, theologian and philosopher? On another plain, weren’t Raymond Roussel and Alfred Jarry’s texts, satiated with verbal enchantment, responsible for Marcel Duchamp powerful imagination? The fact is that magic does not need a direct relationship with so called reality and therefore liberates us from many of its ties. There also lies the magic of J.M.W. Turner ‘s visionary art, another alchemist, but in this case in painting. Olga Andrino’s complex visual poetry works with passion and precision on the essence of her changing environment, her journeys, gathering information and represen- ting a substantial fragment of the sublime contemporary nature that lies in such surroundings. The result is a pursuit for the emotive power of the old masterpieces, which is fused with a contemporary formula. These are stylistically hybrid art works that sometimes propose very personal approximations to emotional abstraction and its way of understanding art. On other occasions the symbolism that lies behind the monochrome and its mystic aura interacts amazingly with reliefs that present reminiscences of anonymous figures whose genealogy is as recent as it is remote. Evanes- cent architecture timidly emerges from ghostly atmospheres, reinforcing the timeless and magical character of the space where they exist. Autobio- graphical iconography that, apart from being a regular theme in figurative art for over one and a half centuries, paradoxically reinforces the cryptic character of the oeuvre. Not least, the sophisticated theatrical chromatic structure of the Spanish Baroque, which Mark Rothko came to call color performance. The eternal geometrical repertoire and Body Art; the contem- plation of the Mediterranean landscape and the scenes of our present age frozen in time by the eye that looks at everything through a photographic camera. Newspapers as a sculptural medium and wrinkled surfaces far from pure shapes, but which leave no doubt regarding the status of alienation that these figures transmit. Queues of anonymous beings located in what appears to be typical urban places but surreal in regards to their presence there. A fine conceptual irony and literature. On the whole, I perceive an aura of melancholy, isolation and an evocative surprise in all of this. I observe travelling souls walking in the human existence of purgatory and whose ultimate mission is to wake us up from the collective dream we are all immersed in. Olga Andrino effectively stages many of human beings’ basic emotions. This only leaves the art lover to create his or her own roadmap in order to enter all these possibilities.

 

 

Christian Dominguez.

Curator