Mariana Escribano


Lelia Driben

Despite the fact that certain groups among art enthusiasts and gallery owners, those new and even those not so new, have catechized abstract painting within the realm of political correction, this articulating system of images still has things to say or, put it more accurately, things to show. In brief and general terms, abstract painting emerged jointly with the 20th century in Europe, most notably in Paris, thus transforming this city into a new pilgrimage center, as Venice, Rome and other places once were. The resulting exile from World War II subsequently moved this center to New York. If I refer to good political behavior, I do not mean to exert a direct relationship between power and culture, I rather assert the existence of a classical canon contained in a huge scheme that shaped the abstract adventure, a movement bestowed with history and sediment by virtue of vision and its attributes.

I think it is important to underscore what is spelled out in the preceding paragraph, to be mindful that the history of an aesthetic trend should not be viewed as something that happened and then died. Coinciding with this, novelty does not guarantee the outright legitimacy of an art form, even less so if for at least three decades, the absence of novelty, annotation and quoting all acquired visual decree. Anyhow, there is strictly no such thing as absence of novelty; we should rather deem retakes as the means to represent newness in the century we live in. Moreover, if one accepts the idea that painting is in crisis, one would not dare cast a stigma upon it -we should instead try to ascertain what is intense and lucid within such crisis. And dialectically, said crisis is called for to help create other painting compositions. Once again, as it happened before in the sixties, the nineties threw conceptual art into the limelight of visual fields. Installation and object-art were at the forefront, even more art forms pinned down by painting. Incidentally, the passing of time during the last decades has created expansion and reduction mechanisms, the Italian trans-vanguards being a prime example of an enormous pictorial display, as well as their counterparts in other countries. This was followed in the nineties -I insist- by a retake on conceptual art. Mariana Escribano's work falls into this final category.

Like many artists who appeal to reality, displacing it in favor of the work title, a painting like "25 Paisajes" (2001) is fragmented in sequences that swing on the outline of something credible and pure abstraction. A similar composition is found in other works dating also from 2001, such as "R28", "Círculo verde" "Círculo rojo" and "Amanecer", among others. Backgrounds come to the forefront through a grid wherein shade progressions are repeated in certain areas, while in some others variations give way to extrapolations, or strings of tiny pictures. It is within this context that Mariana Escribano executes iconic exchanges from painting to painting, as if her entire oeuvre was a large board. These exchangeable motifs are generally found at the center of the canvas, in a symbolic reference to a window opening to external reality. However, it is actually a no-window which serves the purpose of remodeling a secret, for it merely reveals intrinsic elements to a moment's making without having to spell anything out, obviously. Then again: What does abstract painting have to spell out, or more precisely, disclose? Nothing, perhaps only dormant, barely perceptible signals. Klee once said, and Juan García Ponce beckoned, that a well-ordered abstract painting not only comprises the appearance of the invisible -it is rather the opposite, for what's painted becomes pure and true visualization. This is evident in Mariana Escribano's work.

The artist found and shot diverse elements in city dwellings to create her most recent pieces, turning them into abstract images. The door of a modest construction site or scattered billboards all across gigantic Mexico City are transformed into abstract fragments with little traces of reality. In that context and through these insinuations Mariana Escribano coincides with other painters who -metaphorically, or to a certain degree of realism and figuration- have taken up the metropolis as main motivation for their imaginary. Antonio Luquín is one of such artists.

Unlike José Castro Leñero, who portrays the city and its dwellers in an unconventional neo-figurative manner, Mariana elects to embrace matters close to minimal abstraction. In addition, her take on advertisement billboards and graffiti brings about a connection of cultural topics, in other words super-structural ones. If however she chooses a suburban shack as her subject, constructive sequences and the space between external reality and painting shorten the distance between those two manifestations, for the painting -itself a material object- is a reality on its own right. Mariana Escribano employs vertical and sequential parceling to structure her work, clearly asserting her minimal enclave while, at the same time, yielding to repetition as one aesthetic condition existing in vanguards and present-day art.

Translated by Saúl Peña.