Oasis Star lures us through an ecosystem of universal organic forms, gleaming with the unfitting, yet familiar, synthetic colours of a car sales yard. Drawn in close to marvel at the brilliantly polished surface, we are met with our own distorted reflection.
Oasis Star brings together works from four of Mónica Escutia’s perpetual series: Piedra [Stone], De un otro al otro [From One to Another], Oasis Star, and Through a sequence of desert [A través de una secuencia de desierto], spanning 2011 to 2020. Each body of work is imperative to the next, sharing colours and materiality and reflecting on human nature within the context of capitalist society.
Fitting with the industrial quality of the concrete room, the walls of Oasis Star are lined with monotypes evocative of derelict city streets, layered with the remnants of paint and posters through the passing of time. As the title suggests, the series Through a sequence of desert leads us into expansive windows of two dimensional abstraction. Contrasting their clean white frames, the works boast messy “imperfect” markings, celebrating traditionally unfavourable colour mixing, with swampy browns taking centre stage and yellow merging into gold.
Curving out from the walls sit the tubular sculptures from the series De un otro al otro. Inspired by Jaques Lacan’s text “La significación del falo” [“The Significance of the Phallus”], the works reference the phallic as a metaphor for capitalism. Instead of a straight linear trajectory, the steel tubes follow asymmetrical serpentine forms and close in on themselves creating individual infinity loops. The continuous circuit seems to strengthen through its confinement, yet the egocentric pattern is also somewhat isolating. A large lilac tube and a smaller red tube hang in close proximity, as if attempting to connect yet unable to properly intertwine.
The Piedra series immortalises stones from areas of land marked to be developed as part of urban planning. The artificial resin replicas of natural phenomena are lacquered in automobile paint, emphasising the seductive methods perpetuating consumerism. Oasis Star brings a new element of movement to Escutia’s work. Previously still and grounded, the newest additions to her stone sculptures appear to defy gravitational force, hanging in slow gentle rotation.
By claiming materials intended for industrial and commercial purposes, Escutia dislocates the strategic intention behind this systematic use of colour and form, allowing us to reflect on the psychological impact of such elements in our quotidian life.
The most recent body of work that shares the same title as the exhibition is a collection of larger than life resin eggs, polished and painted with the signature automobile paint. Celestial in their glittering metallic quality, the Klein blue, green and gold eggs anchor the space, nesting in the centre. Referencing Aesop's fable, "The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs," they speak of human desire and greed at the cost of life itself. Through these balancing, weighted eggs, Escutia again employs kinetic energy, inviting viewers to interact with the representation of perfection, revealing its inherent instability. Their mobility is vulnerable, and is a reminder of our direct impact as individuals.
Oasis Star reflects on the complex ecology of how we as humans interact with our physical environment. Escutia’s works attract and, in turn, elude, twisting away and layering into abstraction.
By Isabel Rouch.
May / 2020
It will have to be articulated in its own way and without any pretension:
The erotic howl is usually a test of deeper pulses
That may be related to the transitions of death
A last instance on the scale of desire
We must scrupulously articulate
The inverted directions of the cardinal points
That have been disrupted under the symbol of the perfect
There are naive men who proclaim the dissolution of the great tales
For each of them, there are hundreds who are in charge of creating a story.
Day by day
Because they have discovered the magic of human life
Consisting of nothing more and nothing less,
That in elevating constructions that surpass the heavens
Giant prisons without walls
They have discovered the circle of survival
That to make sense of all this
First everyone must be convinced and validity sought
That is why there is man - money
As an irrefutable answer to the interchangeability of life and that everything has its price
The power of currency resides in its spiritual instance
In its ontological value
As long as these principled stigmas in black magic do not collapse
Little can be done
We must understand capitally
That the meaning of the word comes from what matters to us
That we are able to give things a whole new spin
Simply by giving them individual value in the realms of the precious
To discover a complete and revolutionary
concept of barter
We must make our way in the jungle of the concrete
Golden Rule: Leave an incomplete image of yourself.
Etymologically, the word Eden reminds us of paradise, of beauty, of a kind of idyllic garden. With this title, my piece is set in an "idyllic" context such as Puerto Vallarta, and likewise, the framework of the Pan American Games is the possibility of interpreting this term from another premise that has more to do with precariousness, with an unstable condition that we increasingly live in our society. The term enters the symbolic terrain where the construction carried out with waste materials fulfills the strategy of providing elementary shelter to a person who, due to his precarious condition, will have to use his imaginary to supply what reality has denied him. This narrow space is intended to be installed in front of the beach, contrasting with the great constructions that are erected as models of progress and prosperity but at the same time emulate a game of otherness.
IMAGINATION IS A PLACE WHERE IT RAINS
By their very nature, architecture and design require an abstract language to refer to the elements that constitute them as disciplines. Unless, for example, we consider drawing sketches as the formal language of painting, it is interesting to note that architects and designers require highly formalized codes to do their work, codes that, as in the case of perspective, Brunelleschi's great feat, meant for a long time the "real vision" of things in the West, and were, on the other hand, the source of conflict that the different currents of modern painting and the movements of the avant-garde struggled with and finally succeeded in destroying.
This formal rationality is at the very basis of the operation: to represent a volume on a plane requires coding and training perception to mentally translate a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional plane. In this way, architecture and design can only speak a language in which a few essential elements matter: lines, planes, volumes, colors, space, time, light.
Some of these same elements are the basis of abstract representations in painting and sculpture. Detached from figurative art, abstractionist artists aim to develop their subjective expressions through codes in which lines, forms, volumes and colors aspire to achieve a formal balance in a new plastic unit that does not resemble "reality."
La imaginación es un lugar donde llueve [Imagination is a Place Where It Rains] is an exhibition that exemplifies that work of an artist whose work resonates with an aesthetic tradition linked to modern architecture in Guadalajara, a practice that arose visibly with the founding of the School of Architecture but is currently thriving in other settings from which artists linked to these two disciplines have emerged.
Although Monica Escutia is neither an architect nor a designer, her work adheres to the canons and precepts of these practices, which have provided her with the necessary perspective to escape the rigidity of the academy. This has enabled her to develop a fresh expression that is reflected in a common taste for materials and in the pleasure she derives from the formal variations of color, form and relationship with space.
Her work is connected in the pursuit of a spiritually harmonious unity, in which one can notice concerns related to the programmatic lines that drove the De Stijl movement at the beginning of the 20th century, or because of their decorative implications and color, to the representational elements of Joan Miró's paintings or to the cut-out gouache-colored papers of Henri Matisse's last stage.
Monica resorts to the brightness of plastic as a metaphor for a perennial skin, a deceptive guarantor of eternity that becomes a mirror of the insoluble.
As with any abstract attempt, her work aspires to be faithful to itself, abandoning any attempt to refer to the world of "real" objects or to figurative reproduction. Monica's work in this exhibition space causes her work to evaporate in the brightness -- always distinctive and impermanent -- reproducing a characteristic wink of modernity, a gesture that we cannot fail to attend to since it beckons us because we see ourselves reflected in it.
Silent Loves // To look at the floor without focusing on the public's attention and concentrating on the direct path of the sound, on activating the pedals that give multiple effects and filters to the sound, such as the "shoegazing" music movement, with one of its predecessors: “My Bloody Valentine” in Loveless or on the track Final Days by Young Marble Giants focused on the sharp buzz produced by an erased tape that serves as the background for a bass and a voice in the purest minimalist pop style.
Mónica reconstructs symbols that awaken the imagination, making clear her keen interest in the study of composition and color. Beyond the evident aesthetics embodied in her work, she suggests a life cycle in the use of material as a medium, waste and recycling; to this element she integrates the content of geometry as a true form of an eternal order, taking it as a basis in the representation of reality, proposing systems formed by a set of pieces, parts or details that have similar functions but not necessarily similar meanings. Just as in plastic there is a degree of mobility and ease in acquiring a certain composition, so it happens with the form of perception of time and space. It is those properties of elasticity and flexibility that allow us to mold and adapt their qualities to different forms and applications in an "energetic world" and of cellular evolution, where in spite of most of the "transformations" and changes in which we live continuously in the course of time, it is that change in the perception of time that we still cannot account for. The amnesia never seems to disappear, and uncertainty accompanies humankind for life.
In their multiple forms, the pieces of Silent Loves give a sensation of envelopment, transmutation and change, of movement -- a symbolic exploration of organic and radiant order that suggests a number of readings determined by the ever-changing and unpredictable reality. In the words of Peter Brook's, "The only thing that could help us is awareness of the present."
Living organic forms, immersed in a substance that possesses a certain temperature at the same time as certain elasticity and flexibility properties -- which are lost in certain cases, limiting us in an absurd way and immobilizing us within patterns imposed by the mainstream -- are what we find in Monica Escutia's work. This living organicity seeks to provoke a reconsideration of the relationship between consumption and the life/death binomial.
As an encapsulated sample, the specific temporal representation in the plane of our reality, maintains a narrow gap between form and material, elements and symbols among which we can find the constant capacity to explore different structures and achieve a certain degree of mobility.
Mónica immerses herself in the constant convergence of the life-death-construction concept, making associations between form and body, movement and stillness, natural and polymer, thus showing us the absurdity of the world we have made and what we have understood through banal creation.
It is not difficult to easily find recognizable organic symbols, to perceive balance and beauty in this work that, nonetheless, prioritizes a reading that goes further through the use of primary figures inserted inside this body. Mónica invites us to reconcile the "I" with the absurd world, challenging us to reconsider the roles imposed by the cultural system. The perennial questioning of the consumption-life-death conjugation, as well as the incorporation of plastic and its link to our interior, showing this parallelism and exploring the being -- through this recurrence to emotional recycling -- that consciously or unconsciously relapses in the repetitive tendency to the process of consumption-destruction-reconstruction.
MÓNICA ESCUTIA – AMBIGUITY MADE STAIN (DESTRUCTION OF THE SYMBOL)
A symbol is a communicative element whose purpose is to represent a person, object, group, process or idea. Thus, a symbol can take on any form, as long as it is used as a communication element. The nature of the symbol, regardless of the form it takes, is subject to this end. In the collage we can find symbols everywhere. And I have no doubt that the primary function of the work is to communicate. But unlike other non-artistic visual languages, symbols play a special role. Their purpose is communication, but the message (an indispensable element in the communicative process) in this case is ambiguous. It is not a specific message. When we ask an artist, "What does your work mean?" the most common response is perhaps a shrug of the shoulders, a hesitation at best; but we can always detect a certain frustration and discomfort and an obvious inability to respond. That frustration originates in the fact that the artist knows that her piece communicates; the problem is that the message is not specific, or rather it is not transmittable with words. If it were, they say out there, it would have been better to put a sign on the wall or write a book.
Monica's collage is no exception. She knows that her works have a message. She knows that they contain symbols, and so do we viewers. Moreover, in her work, however, ambiguity reigns not only in the message, but in the symbol itself. According to the definition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a symbol serves to represent a person, object, group, process or idea. With Monica, things are complicated (or simplified) on a level of abstraction. In her case, the definition could possibly be adjusted by substituting the conjunction "or" with "and/or." The degree of interpretation and/or participation of the viewer increases; the viewer becomes an active agent in the communicative and creative process. It is not enough to receive the message. The code is ambiguous; a compositional element can "mean" several things -- person, object, group, process and/or idea.
The stain. The color. The gesture. The organic and the inorganic. The abstract and representation. With all this the observer encounters the work of Mónica Escutia. Regardless of the definition "augmented and improved", with an apology from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, it is clear that in her work form comes first; meaning is veiled, ambiguous and subjective. The compositional and formal tension is the structure on which this work is based. The abstract gesture, which refers us rather to the forms of nature and the organic, is made with materials of different forms, which points us towards the artificial. Likewise, the materials constitute a dialectic between the organic and inorganic; paper and transparent resin on the one hand, and the rough texture of chipboard on the other. The language of forms, in turn, is constructed from opposites; order and disorder, symbol and abstraction, center and periphery, force and subtlety. So it is surely an abstract collage...? It is difficult to say with certainty. The spaces that Monica creates invite the imagination; one does not want to ignore the matter. Space and order perceived in the elements are indications pointing to the fact that something is happening -- a narrative, perhaps? And, again, to the question: what do her paintings mean?
Alejandro Ramírez Lovering