Ferrán García Sevilla

Sama 66 (all works 1991) is a true “all over” painting. The dispersion completely disorients vision; it does away with centering and elicits a hypnotic impression of vertigo. All areas of the surface are homologous, sharing the same force. If we recognize its painted arrows as scriptural or pretextual indicators—if we acknowledge in them an allusive insinuation of sense—we would have to infer as well that this eventual writing has been deconstructed, that it is conceived in the same way Derrida considered what he calls the “arch-trace.” Thus what Ferrán García Sevilla paints is nothing other than the primordial trace of a writing, its state of pure “dissemination.”

Herein lies the unsuspected continuity and coherence of García Sevilla’s work. He is, in fact, usually considered an iconoclastic exile of every style, who capriciously varies his approach. Nothing could be further from the evidence provided by this, his first show in more than two years. Against this reading of his work, which has become a commonplace, this show proves that García Sevilla has sustained virtually the same tenets since the beginning of his career in the early ’70s, when his works shared affinities with the propositions of Lawrence Weiner.

From his early conceptual work to the “textual” paintings presented here, the analytical jump is minimal, although the pronounced formal variations undoubtedly have relevance. García Sevilla has constantly slanted his conceptual investigation in the direction of writing and the scriptural in general, exploring the tension of its relationship with the image, thereby setting forth a pre-textual order in which image and sign are equivalent, and in which they contaminate each other.

This condition represents a zero-degree of both means of expression: the image is already a hieroglyph, the text still a pictogram. Writing and image inhabit the same virtual, disseminated territory—a “tropological” territory, as Paul de Man would say. Sense is pure possibility, a dispersion, a descent to a zero-degree of signification. Thus one of the series presented in this show develops a kind of primordial alphabet, in which letters are associated with images—a kind of elementary vocabulary of “arch-writing” with which García Sevilla inscribes an otherwise pure energy. It is a practice capable of reflection, but also uninhibited, sensual—an affective explosion.

This is perhaps the most suggestive reading of his painting: beyond its plastic hints of signification (and despite its conceptual characteristics), something flows, a free and torrential flux of affection that is both possible and practical. It is a desiring flux. García Sevilla has opened his tap fully. He is far from confining himself to the dead end suggested by those blind, black-and-white paintings such as Sama 44 or 55. By forcing image and text to confront each other, García Sevilla’s work questions a certain cultural protocol, asserting—with a jovial, barbarous, will to power—an explosive freedom to feel, to exist, and to express.

José Luis Brea

Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Echavarren.