Vicente Fita, Eva García Donate and Filomena Moreno approach the still life with ‘Presente continuo’ at the Fúcares Gallery

‘Untitled’, by Eva García Donate

The exhibition curated by Patricia Ortega-Miranda opens this Friday

The Galería Fúcares from Almagre opens on Friday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m., the collective exhibition ‘Presente Continuo’, with works by Vicente Fita and Eva García Donate from Cuenca and Filomena Moreno from Albacete, who show their approaches to the still life genre. The exhibition, which can be seen until November 12, is curated by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.

The curator of the exhibition indicates that “the exhibition ‘Presente Continuo’ brings together a selection of works by three artists, who maintain a bond not only generational, but also because they were students of the critic and theorist José Luis Brea and whose works are crossed by both by critics as well as by art history. By insisting on painting and photography as artistic media, these works, as a whole, gather a reflection on the relationship between work of art and image, central axis in Brea’s work.

This reflection stems from an approach to the genres of still life and still life that became popular during the Baroque, style and period that have been at the center of criticism of modernity and image theories. The still life arose in the Protestant Holland of the 17th century for the delight and consumption of a middle class of merchants and merchants. Already in Spain the still life becomes a low genre, according to the classification established by the French royal academy. Still life, as the first genre that artists had to master, revealed knowledge about the most basic technical and artistic skills, and had to highlight the religious dimension of everyday life. Two centuries later Cézanne focuses his reflection on the basic principles of painting in still life, as Morandi would also do with his compositions of bottles and kitchenware. The still life is where the banal and the devotional meet and subvert. Accumulated times thicken in its apparent simplicity, and there is nothing more than insistence on the plastic, as a creator of distance. Distance, in this case, critical.

In an unexpected return to easel painting on the occasion of the exhibition organized by the Fúcares gallery on the ‘Bodegón del cardo’ in 2021, Vicente approaches the work of Sánchez Cotán from a photographic sensibility. He does not seek to reproduce the painting, but instead makes a parody of the very act of recreating the Spanish still life with Dutch influence, being himself a Spanish artist living in Holland as a foreigner. In the still life, but even more so in the series of photographic paintings in which he traces his childhood, photorealism becomes both a parody and a recovery of the photographic record as an accumulation of time. Through painting, a distance is opened that breaks with the epochal values ​​of immediacy and movement that had been instituted by modernity, and where photography is installed as a record of a duration where various aesthetic regimes and affective flows accumulate. It is not about a simple return to painting and its object value, but about influencing the distance that appears between the time of photography and the act of painting, in order to consider the way in which images, as Brea would say, they manufacture.

Painting photography is for Vicente to paint the distance that allows an image to be approached within an excess of the banal that continually seeks to annihilate, in the always delayed promise of a distance, the overlapping of times or excess of times that sustain it. In this act of recovery of the family photographic archive, which has been traversed by death and loss, the paintings capture a thickness of times where image, memory and distance recover, through the making of plastic, an act that resists fragmented and fleeting time of the photo. In this double gesture that is his homage and parody of photorealism, the artist insists on the object of memory as an image of duration and unity of meaning, by eliminating any hierarchy between photography and its reverse.

In her series of photographs, Filomena pays homage to the American photographer Edward Weston, whom she considers to be an important influence on her work. In this way, the artist distances herself from the estrangement and dehumanizing effects that European modernist movements would almost obsessively pursue. The modernists would provoke stupor by highlighting the unheard of and the monstrous, thus exploiting the binarisms between object and body that distinguish between the human and the super or subhuman. Known for his masterful and innovative treatment of darkroom processes, at the beginning of the 20th century this photographer would perfect the black and white gelatin silver printing technique for which he would take the plant specimen as the motif. Unlike most modernist photographers who distanced themselves from the aesthetics of scientific photography, Weston maintained throughout his life a formal interest in objects or things that are in a state of transformation. By placing the specimens of shells, vegetables, animals and plants in front of black or flat backgrounds, he privileged organic processes of mutation and interrelation. Returning to the aesthetics of scientific specimens, Filomena’s series questions the binarisms that have historically traversed the genre of still life. In this way, he plays to subvert the limits from which we relate to the non-human, highlighting the impossibility of establishing categories of difference before the abject, or before everything that could be different.

In Eva’s series of paintings, this accumulation of time is also an accumulation of paint on the canvas, shades of yellow and white on a black background that eliminate all context to present us with an image as a phenomenon of vision. The radical contrast refers us to the transcendental and ephemeral moment of baroque art that characterizes 17th century painting, where the act of revelation, and therefore of conversion, occurs as an irruption of light on the plane of darkness. More than a sense of religiosity, the artist seems to obsessively pursue the opacity of yellow and white, not to produce an effect but to allude to a symptom. The word effect refers to the demonstrative and revealing, since it denotes a process of causal relationship between two events, but the symptom is coincidence, suspicion, cover-up, need and difficulty in establishing a relationship. The opacity that seems to come off the black background requires an adjustment of vision, a distancing for the eye to organize the image. It is then that the image of the disease comes to subvert the phenomenon of vision that it itself organizes. The disease does not appear here as an allegory of bread with fly, but in the image itself, as a symptom. The “flying flies” disease produces a vision of mobile floating bodies in the form of points or shadows produced by a conglomeration of cells inside the eye. In the same way, vision here cannot be divided into passive or active categories, since in it the images are activated and act. In a previous series entitled “Lover’s Eyes”, based on the jewels that bear the same name and that would become popular in England in the 18th century, the artist is interested in the anonymity of the subject whose eye is portrayed and the artist who draws it. In this series, the eye of the image reveals and conceals the internal movement that arises from its condition as a secret, from an imperceptible activity, where the artist often secretly inserts, between the eyes of anonymous lovers, that of her alter ego, Patty Ice.

‘Presente Continuo’ proposes an approach to the still life genre by each of these artists and proposes a reflection on the accumulation of time that gives images a critical distance. It is from that distance that emerges through painting and the photographic process that it becomes possible to interrogate the nature of the image as a resistance to the division of life into values ​​and hierarchical scales, which attempt to displace or postpone making indivisible and inexhaustible of time”, indicates Partricia Ortega-Miranda.

Vicente Fita, Eva García Donate and Filomena Moreno approach the still life with ‘Presente continuo’ at the Fúcares Gallery – Lanza Digital