The recovered landscape

“But it is that nature itself becomes, through the work and grace of Víctor López-Rúa’s painting, one more object that survives its passers-by, lost in its colorful and presumably beneficial foliage, when what they contain is the fabric of labyrinthine spider that condemns us to perpetual loss”
Luis Alberto de Cuenca

A viewer attentive to the development of artistic events in recent times will have realized, I think, that the Landscape concept has become part of many of the latest major exhibitions that have been held in the international context. It is, therefore, pertinent to state that Landscape is in fashion among the aesthetic concerns of curators -curators-, critics and specialists. The actors participating in these exhibitions, which have also included conference cycles, agree on the thesis that announces a new prosecution of the aforementioned term, to then proceed to analyze it from an ethical, social and political point of view; Thus, a host of words and ideas cascade: territory, identity, ecology, intervention, environment, sustainability, tourism… In the sections that advance the content of these exhibitions, it is said that they will try to clarify the main paths along which art travels of landscape in recent decades and that will focus on the disciplines most in keeping with the field of contemporary art, which would leave aside the latest pictorial proposals, although they do include photography, a medium that is incorporated -suddenly they discover- to the perception of the landscape.

The landscape, therefore, conceived from this point of view, implies a multidisciplinary analysis of the natural environment, that is, it requires a scientific methodology for its investigation, whose conclusions are aimed at creating a debate in society, and in that aesthetic issues, such as the preservation of its beauty – denunciation of its destruction – the type of urban planning and architecture, are related to ethical concepts such as the identity of the territory, environmental awareness or the reaction of civil society. But the simulations executed by the authors to highlight these messages, which have to do, sometimes, with the staging of a political-social theater, are very far from the artistic proposal that we are going to present. Nor does it understand this, those new readings of the landscape that come from the strategies of redefinition of the place that results from sculpture -expanded from the Kraussian epiphany- or from interventions in it to later document them through photography: Land Art and Minimal they do not wander through our imaginary labyrinth of images. The point of view is another; another that is in communion with the emotion, with the poetic, with the mystery of creation and the breath of contemplation, but also with the value of the pictorial gesture, the pleasure for the craft -although at the same time for the latest technologies – with the calligraphy of the line, and with the stays of memory. And all this derived from an encounter with the landscape.

The aim of this set of works by the Spanish artist Víctor López-Rúa is to make the viewer reflect on the survival, within contemporary art, of a way of understanding the landscape that addresses the pure act of looking, of looking and internalizing what we see. , of appropriating a part of nature, whose identity as a landscape is born by baptizing it as “ours” -because nature exists per se and the landscape only exists in relation to man-. That provocative contemplative act of plastic creation confronts the mechanical speed that prevails in our society, that tempts us with immediacy, that tricks us with its finalist liturgy, and that, according to the French urban planner and thinker Paul Virilio, acts as a power of destruction that liquidates the ability to analyze. Going against the current, then, we immerse ourselves in the asceticism of work that implies concentration and meditation, and that brings us closer to the desired creative fullness; This, of course, is reflected in a certain reception of the work by the viewer, because now far from the dictatorship of the “cold aura”, the mystery finds its place in the ritual of contemplation, causing that unrepeatable Benjaminian appearance that, for El Pessoa del Libro del Desasosiego, is “sharpness in the distance”.

But in addition to a certain shared drive, this aerial perspective on the set of works also offers us an expressive proposal mediated by the theme of the landscape. Multiformity that corresponds to the integration of styles -remote, past and current- that, as a reaction to modernity, brought us post-avant-garde -or postmodernism-, and already announced more than fifty years ago by Harold Rosenberg and Octavio Paz. The availability of all these codes will make us maneuver between some works in which the viewer will find, from codes that activate through cinema and photography, to pure painting, that is, one that registers light and color, that reveals gesture and matter. And we will be able to contemplate landscapes enclosed in a canvas that strategically predisposes us to observe and reflect, as in René de Girardin’s benches, those focusing devices located in his garden in Ermenonville that, to the visitor’s surprise, provoked his emotional climax.

Víctor López-Rúa