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Entre sombras: a pictorial exhibition by María José de Simón Casuso.

Luis Rius Caso

For María José de Simón Casuso, painting is an extension of herself. A corporal, mental, and spiritual extension that affirms her existence day by day. It is a habit that roots her in the everyday environment and also in its higher planes -invisible to the common eye- where the matter and energy created by her dwell, where the gestural, plastic, compositional, chromatic, and formal indications of a dimension that usually negotiates its ineffable condition with the words art and spirit.

In the mirror of her painting, day after day, María José confirms what she sees and knows about herself and also discovers herself before new mysteries, before new clues of something more of herself not yet unveiled, and before an idea and reality of a work not yet realized. The creative process then initiates new and unknown paths that do not necessarily go in pursuit of the masterpiece, typical of modernity - in the manner of Balzac's character, who discovers abstract art - but of discovering - of creating - new extensions of herself and her painting; of her being in the world.

When placed on a genealogical map, the painting of this artist registers reminiscences of lyrical-gestural abstraction and other tendencies associated with sensitive geometry. It is not strange in her case, a Spanish artist well trained in respectful teaching of artistic evolution, whose searches must be considered in tune with those of important painters from Mexico and other latitudes, who have reaffirmed this medium in the contemporary panorama.

Just as in many cases, the lesson of art that comes from art has inspired extremely novel figurative recreations, whether through glosses, iconic and symbolic resignifications, neo approaches (classical, surrealist, realistic...), in which both the antecedent and the novel contribution are recognizable, in the painting of the non-mimetic representation of the immediate visual reality, of the well or poorly named abstraction, something similar can be distinguished. In the case of María José, the antecedent is naturalized in our cultural memory, but the innovations she proposes surprise us and invite us to aesthetic enjoyment. The greater the knowledge of genealogy, the greater the surprise of the originality that comes to light in these paintings and in this creative process that vindicates the singularity of the artist, his unique and non-transferable praxis.

With romantic and avant-garde inheritances, therefore -and fortunately-, María José places us in the flow and pathos of a powerful lyrical impulse that does not put before sketches or external models. Lyrical is the pulse of her disturbing line, almost always nervous and vibrant, made mostly in charcoal, with different densities and descriptive intentions. It is active and protagonist, in the sense that it is not limited to the drawing of forms that support the image and color, but has its own presence and course in space.

The composition, forms, and color are also lyrical, coming from a constructive intention but free of rigidity and architectural criteria. They form a very well-compensated structure, despite the risk that the artist assumes in putting the elements of the painting in tension (which distances it from the properly modern abstraction), such as the different sizes of found areas, the uncombined colors that oppose and therefore highlight, the different qualities in the linear interventions, the disproportion that can suddenly deprive in the composition of a polyptych, designed to be arranged in the external space in multiple changing forms, posing in each case a new work.

Black and white are the main colors of her palette, almost always reduced, and in which the predominant note is usually given by a color. María José works with different ranges, muted or with very vivid tones, which acquire a very particular highlight due to the preparation that she knows how to give to the canvas with acrylic materials (an important secret in the kitchen of her painting). This is also due to the special qualities she achieves with the shading and accents of darkness that emerge in her colored surfaces. In her palette, ochers, violets, reds, yellows, grays, and diverse blues are recurrent, in the astonishing contrasted games, purposely at odds with conventional harmony, which affirm an aesthetic forcefulness akin to our dialogic reality.

With an immediate aesthetic impact, the work of this renowned painter has moved from tonal combinations to others in which the flattest and purest color prevails, thus taking a risk in leaving behind a highly accomplished production, to gain experimentation and propositional strength. As can be seen in this exhibition, Entre sombras, the result is very happy and very evident.

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