“When I work in a portrait everyday life mingles with signs of an imagined life. That is how I conceive the exercise of painting a portrait, building up at the same time what is real and what is imaginary, the form and the content, the figure and its imprint. That inner element, the spirit, should live in the canvas in the same way that it lives in the portrayed person. If the features, the limbs, the body in general, constitute the most demanding nature and the foundation of the harmonies, the imprint they leave on the retina when they vanish is its essence, that which endures and outlives them.
The allegory, understood as an abstraction that has just adopted specific forms, means to me the plastic transcription of the world of ideas, the projection of feelings through symbols, and therefore an ideal resource to complete what is strictly real.
Both disciplines, the portrait and the allegory, offer me the possibility of a setting that is tailored to the impulse, where observation transforms into signs, thought is hidden under the harmony, the chaos of dreams can be summarized in fictitious ornaments... All as an answer to a core idea: reason chases beauty in the same way that the portrait chases the interior of the person”.
“To paint Venus or Eve, or Rusalka or Ligeia, or Andromeda or Danae... to look for an image that represents the trace of Camille Claudel or Jeanne Hébuterne... turning me in this way into a traveller among their histories or their times, is like paying a visit to the dreams. In both of them I have found a reflection of a great majority of our passions, so that the concepts of myth and legend blend themselves in each case with the effects of love and with states that range from despair to ecstasy.
Each one of these interpretations was therefore intended as an excuse to bring closer qualities, states and feelings, which sometimes renders it useless to put a limit to their scope. The goddesses, the myths, the fables or the legends of ancient times, the characters taken out of literary works, live together with the women that left a profound imprint in the arts of Painting, Music or Sculpture”.
From dawn till dusk, from Monday to Sunday, the four seasons of the year; in between the allegory titled “Time Asleep” can be considered as a synthesis of what this series represents: the passing of time in accordance to our most everyday parameters, trapped in the unaltered beauty of the woman in her splendour.
Foreground portraits reflect the lights of a full day, female figures sitting on carpets, wrapped in clothes and symbols that act as metaphors of the days of the week, or lying on exclusive divans in order to evoke the essence of summer, autumn, spring or winter.
“Time, a destroyer by nature, does not affect beauty in the slightest. Here time does not mean before or after, it does not corrode, it does not mutate, here time, or times, is nothing more than different moments of beauty, a vibration of light, a movement, a gesture, an anticipated breeze. [...] If beauty is able to escape from death and aging it is because what is measured is not time, but beauty itself. That means that harmony is taken to the point that it immediately caresses the eye and the spirits of the beholder, not just the figures, the forms themselves, which would turn into metaphors of other things. And thus, what has been painted transcends the own painting”.
Comments on “Measured Time”, December 2016. José Luis Sánchez Lora (Modern History, University of Huelva).
The connection of certain species of flowers with the concept of immortality gives birth to this series where the female figure hides part of its nudity under white translucent cloths and places itself on stone platforms made up of symbols and references to each flower. All of the materials chosen here possess the constituents that are usually associated with the features of these species of flowers: polished stone, gold, the cloths whiteness, the exposed skin, etc.
“Immortality flees, but it always flees. It is a magical concept that is sometimes very close to its opposite, mortality. That makes it exceedingly mysterious. If death disturbs us, immortality disturbs us even more, and we also react to it with an eagerness to transcend. This has been our attitude since prehistoric times, which is made clear in ancient and modern offerings and in the way that desires and feelings are visually expressed, by associating them to the species of flowers and materials that represent purity and eternity”.
“Rodin’s work has usually been categorized as a sequence of sculpted paintings. The unfinished look, almost liquefied, of most of his works, together with the intentional contrasts in textures, especially between figures and pedestals, or outline blocks, represent the essence of his identity. There also lies the origin of my identification with him and his legacy. It is something that goes beyond the “Rodinian” imprint and directs itself to that appreciation of “sculpted painting”, which has then been inverted by painting a collection of sculpture works.
As Rodin himself did with the hours he spent reading up on the subject, I have taken an interest here in connecting messages that come from several artistic disciplines, in a way that some of these works have originated from literary or religious texts (Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, fragments from the Bible), musical pieces (Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes and Gymnopédies) and elements treated with sculptural textures.
The premise upon which I build this series is to paint sculptures. Its purpose is to pay a tribute to Rodin’s work, and especially to his relationship with Camille Claudel. I have significantly toned down the female nudity with intimate or acrobatic poses in accordance with the polishing that the master applied to his own figures. Similarly, in the pedestal zones or outline stone blocks that he used to leave unpolished I have introduced rough-looking and neutral-colouring irregular volumes, thus contributing to the effect of contrast that identifies Rodin’s sculptures”.
"VERITAS FILIA TEMPORIS" ("TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME")
Interpretation of the sculpture “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin (since 1.880).
-About the original:
The first versión of the original (70 cm.), appears in 1.880 crowning the tympanum of the monumental “Gate ofHell”, commission in which Rodin was to recreate through relief the Hell of “The Divine Comedy” (Dante Alighieri, s. XIV). Initially it was located there to represent the poet sitting in a reflective attitud, peering at the horrors that that abyss offered under his feet, a location that the sculptor reaffirmed during the entire process of execution of the work. Several were the meanings that the work received over the years, but when Rodin decided to copy it as an autonomous sculpture, especially when enlarged in 1904 to monumental size, “The Thinker” acquiered “own life”, coming to stand out for its gesture of full introspection and to be considered symbol of the suffering and the magnificence of every free spirit.
About the interpretation:
Through a very small chromatic range and influencing the sculptural character of the original, this pastel vision of the famous “Thinker” shows the figure highlighted in chiaroscuro under overead light and surrounded by motifs that stage the pathos of the scene for which it was created: thistles, thorns and leaves that are transfigured in amorphous stone announce the descent into the Dantesque abyss and, behind the figure, a sculptural allegory evokes the nine circles of hell explained by Dante.
“Elevation”. Poem III from Flowers of Evil (Charles Baudelaire):
“Above the lakes, above the vales, / the mountains and the Woods, the clouds, the seas, / beyond the sun, beyond the ether, / beyond the confines of the starry spheres,
My soul, you move with ease, / and like a strong swimmer in rapture in the wave / you wing your way blithely through boundless space / with virile joy unspeakable.
Fly far, far away from this baneful miasma / and purify yourself in the celestial air, / drink the ethereal fire of those limpid regions / as you would the purest of heavenly nectars.
Beyond the vast sorrows and all the vexations / that weigh upon our lives and obscure our visión, / happy is he who can with his vigorous wing / Soar up towards those fields luminous and serene,
He whose thoughts, like skylarks, / towards the morning sky take flight / who hovers over life and understands with ease / the language of flowers and silent things!”
From the series “Rodin and Me”. Inspired by the “Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone”, by Auguste Rodin (Ca. 1881).
The caryatids are female sculptures that, as a column, they stands on their heads the weight of the entablature. During the Medical Wars, the inhabitants of the Greek city of Carias (Laconia), they had allied with the Persians, and they were exterminated by the rest of their compatriots, as well as their women condemned to carry heavy loads. For this reason they were carved in stone, replacing the classical columns of the temple as a lasting symbol of his conviction. Over time, the caryatid has been used autonomously, giving rise to kind sculptures, even of marked sensual character. Rodin created his caryatid for the Door of Hell, from which he himself extracted it, as he did with several of his works, combining the symbolic origin of the figure with a very expressive and unusual aesthetic in its pose.
“Bad Luck”, XI poem from The Flowers of Evil (Charles Baudelaire):
“To lift a weight so heavy, / would take your courage, Sisyphus! / Although one’s heart is in the work, / Art is long and Time is short.
Far from famous sepulchres / toward a lonely cemetery / my heart, like muffled drums, / goes beating funeral marches.
Many a jewel lies buried / in darkness and oblivion, / Far, far away from picks and drills.
Many a flower regretfully / exhales perfume soft as secrets / in a profound solitude.”
“It produces a very beautiful feeling to see it work. The relationship of his eye with clay. All the routes of his glance, the insurance, the rapids, you think you see them from a network in the air in which, more and more, the thing is trapped. And how then everything becomes one: he and the thing, his thing; you would hardly know what the work is… And when he speaks, his voice sounds like inside a tower, and his face rises, soaked, as if it came from running wáter”
(“Rodin”. Rainer Maria Rilke. Autumn 1902, París).
“Correspondences”. Poem IV from The Flowers of Evil (Charles Baudelaire):
“Nature is a temple in which living pillars / sometimes give voice to confused words; / man passes there through forests of symbols / which look at him with understanding eyes.
Like prolonged echoes mingling in the distance / in a deep and tenebrous unity, / vast as the dark of night and as the flight of day, / perfumes, sounds, and colors correspond.
There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children, / sweet as oboes, green as meadows / and others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant, With power to expand into infinity, / like amber and incensé, musk, benzoin, / that sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.”
Personal interpretation of the biblical figure of Eve after “The Fall”. Even though it does not refer directly to the versions that Auguste Rodin made of her, it does adapt the sorrow of the character and the contrasts of textures between the model and the volumes that characterize the whole series.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. […] “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it [the tree of life] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
[…] But the Lord God called to the man, […] And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
(Genesis 3: The Fall and its Consequences). The Bible, from “The Book of Genesis”.
“The Dancing Serpent”, XXVIII poem from The Flowers of Evil (Charles Baudelaire):
“Indolent darling, how I love / to see the skin / of your body so beautiful / shimmer like silk!
Upon your heavy head of hair / with its acrid scents, / adventurous, odorant sea / with blue and brown waves,
Like a vessel that awakens / to the morning wind, / my dreamy soul sets sail / for a distant sky.
Your eyes where nothing is revealed / of bitter or sweet, / are two cold jewels where are mingled / iron and gold.
To see you walking in cadence / with fine abandon, / one would say a snake which dances / on the end of a staff.
Under the weight of indolence / your child-like head sways / gently to and fro like the head / of a young elephant,
And your body stretches and leans / like a slender ship / that rolls from side to side and dips / its yards in the sea.
Like a stream swollen by the thaw / of rumbling glaciers, / when the water of your mouth rises / to the edge of your teeth,
It seems I drink Bohemian wine, / bitter and conquering, / a liquid sky that scatters / stars in my heart!”
Coming from Greek mythology, the figure of Andromeda —daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia— has spread over the centuries like a shadow. It has transcended, especially in the artistic sphere, the scene where she appears naked and chained to a rock by the sea. There she was left exposed, offered as an exchange intended to restrain Poseidon’s threat to flood the earth and also to satiate the sea monster with which the God, affronted, sought to exterminate the human race. Her release at the hands of Perseus, with whom she would later marry, put an end to those threats, but not to that image of a woman dispossessed of everything and abandoned to the fate of an evil will.
Image of defencelessness through an extreme contrast: the white and illuminated nudity of the young Andromeda and the almost gloomy darkness of the rock, where it can be sensed, transfigured, the menacing jaws of evil.
“Obsession”. Poem LXXIX from The Flowers of Evil (Charles Baudelaire):
“Great Woods, you frighten me like cathedrals; / you roar like the organ; and in our cursed hearts, / Rooms of endless mourning where old death-rattles sound, / respond the echoes of your De profundis.
I hate you, Ocean! Your bounding and your tumult, / my mind finds them within itself; that bitter laugh / of the vanquished man, full of sobs and insults, / I hear it in the immense laughter of the sea.
How I would like you, Night! Without those stars / whose light speaks a language I Know! / For I seek emptiness, darkness, and nudity!
But the darkness is itself a canvas / upon which live, springing from my eyes by thousands, / beings with understanding looks, who have vanished.”
From the series “Rodin and Me” (variation of the “Danaïd” by Auguste Rodin). Tribute to Camille Claudel. Linked to “Gnossienne no. 3” by Erik Satie and the poem “Damned Women (I)” from The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire.
Among the myths of antiquity we find the figure of the Danaïds, the fifty daughters of Danaus, forty-nine of whom were condemned to pour water eternally on a bottomless barrel for murdering their husbands during their wedding night.
Auguste Rodin addressed this issue by including it in his “The Gates of Hell”, from where he finally withdrew it (together with “The Kiss”, and replicas of other sculptures) as he considered it to have an “excessive relief”. It was also surely to give more relevance to a sculpture that, in addition to reproducing the body of his partner, model and lover Camille Claudel, was created based on two concepts that are masterfully expressed in its composition: the descending flow of water and the despair for its uselessness. When he conceived “The Gates of Hell”, as well as his utterly beautiful “Danaïd” (marble, 1889), Rodin was inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy and by Charles Baudelaire’s book of poems “The Flowers of Evil”.
The painting partly picks up on the subject of Rodin’s compositional idea of a resting young woman, descending, upon a stone mound. Here the figure wears a short purple garment (in antiquity the colour of the condemned) and holds, lying down, the jug by which she pours the water into a hollow. The damaged marble that originates that opening takes a spiral form, sign of what is infinite, eternal.
Comme un bétail pensif sur le sable couchées,
elles tournent leurs yeux vers l’horizon des mers,
et leurs pieds se cherchent et leurs mains rapprochées
ont de douces langueurs et des frissons amers.
Les unes, coeurs épris des longues confidences,
dans le fond des bosquets où jasent les ruisseaux,<
vont épelant l’amour des craintives enfances
et creusent le bois vert des jeunes arbrisseaux;
D’autres, comme des soeurs, marchent lentes et graves
á travers les rochers pleins d’apparitions,
où saint Antoine a vu surgir comme des laves
les seins nus et pourprés de ses tentations;
Il en est, aux lueurs des résines croulantes,
oui dans le creux muet des vieux antres païens
t’appellent au secours de leurs fièvres hurlantes,
ó Bacchus, endormeur des remords anciens!
Et d’autres, dont la gorge aime les scapulaires,
qui, recélant un fouet sous leurs longs vêtements,
mêlent, dans le bois sombre et les nuits solitaires,
l’écume du plaisir aux larmes des tourments.
Ó vierges, ó démons, ó monstres, ó martyres,
de la réalité grands esprits contempteurs,
chercheuses d’infini dévotes et satyres,
tantót pleines de cris, tantôt pleines de pleurs,
vous que dans votre enfer mon áme a poursuivies,
auvres soeurs, je vous aime autant que je vous plains,
pour vos mornes douleurs, vos soifs inassouvies,
et les urnes d’amour dont vos grands coeurs sont pleins.
Charles Baudelaire, “Les Fleurs du Mal” – CXI – 1857