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María José de Simón: between classicism and the new painting.

Leila Driben 

What would have happened if Malevich had not painted the black square on a white background, Mondrian had not used the straight line exclusively and Kandinski had not used the abstract formal display in his most radical works? Pure and simple, the art world would have been deprived of the significant breakthrough that - through Picasso and analytical cubism - meant abstraction in the twentieth century. And it was to such an extent that it is not venturesome to say that this period, that of the avant-garde trends that emerged during the first decades of that century and its subsequent derivations, implied a new renaissance.

Why, even at the risk of repeating myself, do I quote that painting by Malevich? Because at the pace of the social movements that culminated with the Russian Revolution of 1917, Malevich intended to expel from the interior of the painting any realistic representation that had any relation with the uses and customs of the previous regime. In addition, Malevich rejected the formal display, even if it was abstract, because in that expansion he saw vestiges of a world that the Soviet avant-garde sought to abolish. Then came disenchantment and an inevitable fissure between the political power and the intellectuals and artists who sought to join the new project.

While such aesthetic transformations were taking place in Europe and, since the thirties, in the United States, Spain suffered a devastating backwardness under Franco's dictatorship, which ended in 1975. However, from the fifties onwards, Catalan Informalism appeared in Barcelona, whose most famous representative was Antoni Tapies, closely followed by Manolo Millares, Rafols Casamada, Guinovart and other no less important artists. These and other authors, such as the North Americans Moderwell, Clifford Still and the Frenchman Pierre Soulages, make up the referential substratum of María José de Simón.

Let's go back to the moment when Picasso, in his analytical phase, ambushes with his geometrical representations all verisimilitude. For the observer of the time, this pictorial action resulted in a loss of grip with the real, saving only the faint resemblance of the face. Later, with the completely abstract works of other painters, the detachment was total. This is not the case today: informalism and other currents have entered the sphere of the traditional, and painting divided into areas, such as that of María José de Simón, also approaches the edges of classicism.

It is then that the subtle distinctions between the legitimate and its opposite emerge. With its large and small areas, its poetic sgraffito, its way of combining in a very free and fearless way the color black with turquoise green and bright pinks, and the exact modulation of the large black shape that occupies one of the large format paintings, speak of a solid and singular work. Moreover, painting in recent times is slowly gaining new spaces in the controversial territory of creation, after decades of predominance of non-traditional formats.

Let us go, to conclude, to the interior of some paintings and here I allow myself to change the style of what I am writing: a seductive lilac-colored space is surrounded by the lines that make up the sgraffito. The graphics: a mark, a sign coming from remote places whose trace is deposited on a large blue stain with low chords, as if they were whispering an unknown language. Another: a forceful black stain, with well-delimited contours, slightly reminiscent of Chillida; and in a smaller format, again the large black stain, uniform, that does not let the space speak because it gathers on itself all the murmurs of the water. This and more, allows us to sketch the work of María José de Simón.

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