María Gómez

Galería Montenegro

In recent years María Gómez has emerged as one of the most subjective and seductive of painters. Her figuration eschews wild, gestural brushwork, offering instead calm meditations on the human being in a natural environment, with frequent references to art history. Solitude, the human enigma, violence, and metamorphosis seem to bring about a strange restlessness in the work of this young painter, for whom the present is part of eternal time.

For a year now, Gómez has been painting with oil on canvas and her work has undergone substantial formal changes. A definite evolution can be detected from the works in her last show in Madrid in 1983, which were marked by her absolutely free approach. In Un cuadro no se hace solo (A painting does not make itself, 1984) the care in the application of color and texture harks back to more traditional ways of understanding painting, without losing any freshness. An air of mystery runs through this work, which reminds us of Arnold Böcklin, for whom the relationship between man and universe was inextricable and without surrealist grandiloquence and distortions. Man’s integration into his environment is such that in many of Gómez’s paintings the figure literally emerges from the earth or from water; it becomes part of the elements. But this intimate coexistence is not always perfectly harmonious. There are no catastrophic visions here, though there are latent tensions which create a state of uneasiness in the viewer.

On occasion, the painter concedes a greater, though still enigmatic, importance to the landscape, whose agitations are more baroque than explicitly romantic. The colors, a range of blue, gray, and white, are used in combinations that remind us of traditional ways of applying paint in Spanish as well as in Italian art. It is easy to see that Gómez has looked carefully at masterworks of Spanish and Italian painting, although Northern accents are also included in her personal idiom. The result, however, has been filtered through a very personal vision, leaving behind concrete references to the history of art. That history is present, but in an indeterminate and open mode.

The figures, on the other hand, seem to have been indistinctly converted into angels or evil beings, victims or conquerors of their surroundings, in the act of meditation or in the face of great danger. Gómez’s universe oscillates between paradise and the insurgence of hell. It proposes a relativistic view of phenomena and things, in which everything is possible—from joy to grief—as in life itself. The solitary position of the human being in nature (there is never an allusion to Modern, urban man) brings to mind our yearning for a lost condition with a less mediated, although not necessarily more idyllic, destiny than the present one.

Gómez’s work reflects a synthesis of the present with the past, and it does not differentiate between forces that are real or unreal, fantasized or rationally justifiable. Nevertheless, the liberty that Gómez takes does not decrease the coherence and interest of the works; on the contrary, their possibilities continue to grow, in parallel with the artist’s increasing skill and technical command of painting.

Aurora Garcia

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.