Susana Solano

Galeria Fernando Vijande

It wasn’t long ago that Susana Solano first appeared on the scene—one distinctly remembers her canvas hangings exhibited at the Fundación Miró in Barcelona in 1981. And now, contemplating the recent sculptures shown here, we are undoubtedly confronted with some of the most interesting and solid work done in Spain in the past five years.

Since the works in canvas, with their irregular pleats and bags, Solano has gone on to tackle volumetric problems in wood, and more recently iron, a traditionally “tough” medium with which she has achieved surprising results. In those first iron pieces Solano used predominantly curvilinear forms and planar surfaces delimited by “soft” angles. These ambiguous, geometrically derived forms attempted unsuccessfully to imprison a space that breathed and expanded through their top and lateral apertures. The sculptor wanted to show exactly this: by avoiding closed volumes one could create sculptures that spill forth into the surrounding space in such a way as to be invaded by space at the same time, like broken containers whose escaping contents are displaced by air. This reciprocal action continues to give her work meaning and definition. Contrary to other contemporary sculptors who work in iron, Solano has shunned the use of multiple linear elements pioneered by Julio González. Her work is more closely aligned with that of Eduardo Chillida. Like Chillida, she is interested in the arrangement of volumetric forms in space, in the autonomy of the object.

In this show there were works belonging to various series realized since 1984. The basic idea that underlies all of this work is that of the receptacle, which, when turned inside out, can function as a geographic incident, a hill or some other fragment of a much larger landscape. This is made explicit by the series titles—“Series la luna” (“Series the moon,” 1984–85), “Colinas huecas” (“Hollow hills,” 1985), “Depósitos de sombra” (“Shadow deposits,” 1985), or the group of smaller pieces entitled “Paisaje del interior” (“Interior landscape,” 1985). Invariably, then, the artisttakes advantage of a concave form in order to formalize a negative space. But Solano’s work is deceptive in its simplicity Her distinctly personal approach to her material—the sheets of iron she cuts, folds, and solders without covering the traces of process—and the works’ formal ambiguity combine to create a calculated yet uncertain equilibrium that demonstrates Solano’s technical skill as well as her acute understanding of the complex function of contemporary sculpture. Occasionally as in several of the “Colinas huecas” pieces of 1985, Solano uses iron grating in combination with composition paste that is worked to resemble marble. These recall certain of Robert Morris’ expanded aluminum-mesh pieces from 1967–68. Of course, Solano’s sculpture is far removed from the objective and aseptic language of Minimalism. Though rigorous, it registers various inflections, accidents of the terrain and of memory. She incorporates surrounding space, reaffirming the object within its context, its permeability or “live” quality With only a few formal variants as her starting point, she has created sculptures capable of evoking an endless number of references.

Aurora Garcia

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.