Luis Gordillo

Galería Fernando Vijande

Luis Gordillo insists on abstraction in the three years’ worth of paintings in this exhibition, but he does so without renouncing the figurative elements that have informed his work for so long. Several of the more recent canvases show ovoid forms, organic elements which invade the magmatic ground of the painting and sometimes almost take it over. These amoeboid shapes are like live organisms moving and agitating in liquid, adapting themselves freely to the space that contains them. Connecting filaments snake out from them in all di rections, reinforcing the paintings’ suggestion of the chemistry of the body.

Gordillo is interested less in the skin of the human figure than in its interior, less in its surface than in its unknowable depths. There is, of course, a close relationship between the body’s physiology and the life of the mind, and Gordillo seems to be calling on the complexity of the biological and molecular level of things as an approach to the more abstract, elusive complexity of human psychology, which cannot be spoken of in absolute terms because it is perpetually in flux. The artist’s work has always had a place in the dominant currents of the moment; now this father of a prominent sector of the new Spanish figuration, which caused such controversy in the ’70s, goes against the current. He has not betrayed himself, however. The collection of ambiguous images in this show is in fact a synthesis and schematization of Gordillo’s earlier works, in which the forms were more identifiable than those here, though equally surprising.

Gordillo retires from the battle of concrete images because his subconscious dictates it. Through his unconventional visual vocabulary he seeks direct contact with his internal spirits, using painting as a liberation from his anxieties. But this has always been a concern for Gordillo, who has an interest in psychoanalysis. The truly new element in the recent paintings is the artist’s decisive break with a method of painting that created powerful tensions in his earlier work. He was incapable of confronting the blank canvas without leaning on previously created drawings or other projects, which he would enlarge and treat pictorially. Four years ago, however, Gordillo began to move away from this inhibition toward a more immediate expression of the varied energies of the psyche, in forms at times gestural and nervous, at others calm and lyrical.

The rather formal use of color in Mosaico (Mosaic, 1982) is revealing in this regard; more recent works, such as Alma bronquial (Bronchial soul) and Riñones al champagne (Kidneys in champagne, both 1984), tend to emphasize empty space and a more harmonious treatment of color. The relationships between the titles of these paintings and the organic references in the works themselves are curious, but Gordillo reserves the right to contradict himself at any time, and the trajectories of his thought need not be straight. Perhaps one of the artist’s greatest merits is his continual need for experimentation and movement, his need to surprise himself as well as others. This is combined with sincerity and the courage to take risks.

Aurora Garcia

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.