By: Ángel Alonso
A landscape is, to put it concisely, the distant view of a wide space beneath the sky. While not disregarding this abridged concept, we can discern between two basic types of landscapes: in the first, more conventional one, viewers are given a vantage point, from a building or through a window (the edges of a painting constitute that window) for what is going on in the outside space; but there is another landscape that looks inside to find a space far bigger than the eye can see.
A first step was taken by Claude Monet with Impression, Sunrise; thereafter the artist’s gaze initiated a path of introspection, moving further and further away from the model. In the case of Marcela Jardón (Buenos Aires, 1964) there are no trees or mountains in her landscapes; instead, she offers suggestions, textural effects reminiscent of the earth, green masses of color identified as grass. Her landscapes are hybrids between what happens outside and what happens inside.
On occasion, when someone has recognized a specific part of the world in a painting of hers, this flexible, quantum artist, who is open to the field of all possibilities, has used the viewer’s interpretation as the title. Marcela, like Socrates, knows she knows nothing, and it is this position of humility that conditions her constant learning.
Her painting is extremely tactile. If it weren’t for the issue of conservation—and those old museum taboos that consider a piece of art to be a sacred object—the first thing viewers should do is touch it, because its roughness can be as important as a shiny texture’s smoothness.
Perhaps the most determining factor, transmitting the most information to us in a work of art, is the material. Art restorers, who truly know ancient masterpieces and can, like archaeologists, detect their substances, are permitted to touch them and restore them using their tools to imitate the original artist’s actions. A work of art (even the most conceptual one) is built using materials, and the way they are handled track the artist’s thoughts and decisions.
When critics, researchers, and historians approach a piece of art to write about it, they tend to base their interpretation on the image. Even when the image is abstract, they describe visual results, something that is seen, even though recognition of the process, the way it was triggered, and the specific use of the pigments (in the case of paintings) is more important in unpacking its contents than the image itself.
That is why a painting, be it abstract or figurative, can’t be described—it has to be seen. How to describe a Mark Rothko over the phone? What would you feel if I told you there was a mass of red with faded edges on a white background? And in the case of imagination, if I told you Rothko had painted an apple on a chair, you’d be able to imagine it in so many ways it would never coincide with the image he painted. The closer we get to Marcela Jardón’s process, the more we are able to understand her painting.
When I talk about getting closer to her process, I mean it isn’t enough to simply visit her elegant website; it is only when we stand before her textures, her masses of color and those subtleties that do not translate onto the flickering reproductions shown on the screen, that we truly get a sense of what it’s all about.
I’ve debated with Marcela over whether or not this painting is abstract or figurative. I think that even if the general trend points towards defining it as abstraction, this is only partially so, because abstractions tend to resist being associated with what is real, and just the fact that these paintings are called landscapes leads viewers to associate the images with their adjacent reality. The artist defends a different point of view, stating that everything is, in principle, abstract:
“It is abstract, because every thing, every idea, originates in an indefinite (quantum) field of possible manifestations”
And she’s right, because abstractionism as a movement is one thing, but abstraction itself is something else entirely, and that is why she calls herself an abstract painter, not because she paints unrecognizable shapes but because she feels that all art—even the most figurative kind—is, at its core, abstract:
“An image is a specific individual’s neurological perception that is modified, influenced and filtered (through feelings, perceptions, associations, chemistry, beliefs, traumas, values, history, education, limitations, blind spots, all in all their singularity) and it undergoes changes when that same individual tries to capture it, expressing it outside the realm of their own perception.
Sometimes she uses her own handwriting in the construction of her landscapes. On occasion, words are conceived as plastic forms, as abstractions that in some cases can evoke vegetation, trees, rocks, or other elements of reality.
In her series Mar, for example, the unevenness of superimposed transparencies suggests waves, while in Paisajes Aéreos pigments appear compact, dominating large areas of color as well as reliefs. In her series Landscape, divisions between surfaces point us to the line of the horizon, while in Mutando she works like an archaeologist roughing down each layer of stone in careful excavations until she finds her precious object.
Marcela Jardón is proof that truly spiritual paintings have nothing to do with devotion or religion; her plastic investigation is directed at her inner experience. She overturns all of her worries, filtering her emotions without letting her mind—rational discourse—monopolize her work. She creates her “landscapes” invoking a kind of meditation in which she lets go of almost everything, leaving behind only what is most essential.
If we tear away that veil of classifications which our education has condemned us to, if we shed the binary, the artificial opposition between night and day, between black and white, to penetrate that crack between worlds which Carlos Castaneda spoke of, we’ll be able to see the essence of this painting clearly. A mixture of matter and spirit; a verification of the unity of opposites; irrefutable evidence of the continuity between night and day, of the nuances between black and white, and of the infinitude of thought when artists, far from holding themselves to a repetitive way of doing things, fully investigate the broad possibilities of planes of color, and the infinitude of a horizontal line.
Translation: Julia Calventus