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Inconclusive planimetries.

Luis Ignacio Sainz

Jándalo painting, which springs from the heart of the mountain range, which cannot be endured, which overflows in search of its identity, which resists itself, like those mountaineers who treasured their illusion when marching in autumn to the south towards Andalusian lands in pursuit of fortune and return with nostalgia and some money in their pockets to keep the bonfires of San Juan, on the back of a horse, although now made of canvas. That is what María de José de Simón Casuso does in her own way: pilgrim strokes, in a playful exercise, in endless rotation, segments of the repellent spirit to think too much, only what is necessary, that useful wisp of the mind assumed as a vassal of emotion and spirit. And her crossings bite their tails, they are journeys that return to the atavistic fire, that fire that throws flashes at the crackling of the stony home. Their visions become so strong and elusive, at times full-fledged hallucinations, peeling walls that tire of shouting to build a peculiar claim of sensuality, a little bit wild. This liturgy of pagan dyes can do without the tenderness of José María de Pereda y Sánchez Porrúa (1833-1906), contained in the narrative geography of Blasones y talegas[1], where the uneasiness of the emigrant and his misfortunes and aspirations when rubbing shoulders with those who always can, takes refuge in the understanding of misery and the portrait of social mobility, avoiding the dastardly borders of mockery or contempt.

Our visual chronicler does fully achieve her purpose: to emasculate the blazons and dispense with the bags; above the lineage and without paying attention to the peculium. She does her own thing, taking refuge in a new and disturbing skin, of her unfinished planimetries. Stretches of masonry that show their impudent visceras, when throwing away the whitewash that used to cover them with modesty. Embers of what was, traces of mysteries incapable of being revealed. Ancient lead urine, with which the heteras[2] (hetairas) used to make and apply their masks, in order to preserve their beauty: those masks of desire. So attractive are the visual factories of this silent creator who transformed her words into images, into versatile signs that preach a world irremediably hers, intimate, impossible to be deciphered at a stroke, because it requires time and patience, like everything that is worthwhile. Her work invites us to a soft, syntonic cadence, woven by macular conjectures, lacking a unique and closed meaning, open to the full apprehension of those who glimpse it and - consequently - to be named from the peculiarity of the gaze that fatigues it and unsuccessfully tries to squeeze it.

Whoever observes such a plastic display will have the privilege of coming across an abstract vocabulary by nature, without impostures or affectations, which proceeds by means of progressive simplification, renouncing to share a dictum-message-kerygma and emphasizing sensitive provocation. Dispensing with figuration should be a process of elimination of the accessory and ornamental so that the expression is vertebrated around pure forms that try to trace their identities. This way of constructing virtual realities is also historical and for that reason subject to aging; and when such misfortune happens, it renounces its condition to become a genre, with the same legal coverage as if it were about capturing still life scenes, which allows us to suppose -in the radical nonsense- that we can paint in the Mondrian, Still or Rothko style. María de José de Simón Casuso's mixed techniques and acrylics, as well as her prints, evade the comfort of categories (e.g., elegance or serenity or balance) to install in themselves, operating from their own non-transferable compositional paradigm. They are genuine and "natural", with a clear constructive and cartographic imprint. Hence the suggestion to order the series exhibited at the Zacatecas venue under the title of Planimetrías inconclusas (Inconclusive Planimetries).

Appreciating her language in the context of the Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez facilitates its enjoyment and perhaps understanding; she dialogues with many of her peers, approaches some more, and with others, as it is popularly said, she draws her line. One can perceive her strength and temperament that springs from the background of her compositions, where the superimposition of planes, the degradation of a cold palette, the growing containment of color as a solution, the presence of the sgraffito as a sign of a hypothetical optical senderization and -above all, to my personal delight- the empire of whites registered in the manner of a catalog of pearl tones, Elizabethan or percudidos splashed with gray that evoke the whims of the plasterwork, which pays homage to its Hispanic roots, whether those of baroque painting or those anchored in informalism, although not in the markers of Hartung or Soulages, but in restrained agreement with certain manifestations of the El Paso Group[3] (I think more of Suarez's plastic games and Saura's gestures than of the vocabularies of Millares, Canogar, Francés or, of course, Rivera). Her sensitive geometry is more and more tempted to exile the resounding colors, taking refuge in a réagir avec décalage of whites, grays, and blacks. She advances without giving quarter, in samples that consolidate her voice in the current desert of empty forms, barely brimming with pretension. It celebrates the displacements of matter in themselves, as magical events that break and interrupt the monotony of a culture that seems to enthrone a conception of morality as hygiene. In the face of this unstoppable devastation, even the mechanism she detonates to name her pieces sounds more like an amusement than the gift of any clue that supplies coordinates to the significance of her discursive fragments.

María de José de Simón Casuso, for her own good, inhabits a fantastic prison, from where she creates by putting the soul in suspense: the poetic territory of Jaime Torres Bodet's Daedalus[4]:


Buried alive in an infinite maze of mirrors, I hear myself, I follow myself, I search for myself in the smooth wall of silence.

But I do not find myself.

I feel, I listen, I look. Through all the echoes of this labyrinth, an accent of mine

is trying to reach my ear.

But I do not notice it.

Someone is imprisoned here, in this cold lucid enclosure, maze of mirrors? Someone, whom I imitate. If they leave, I go away.

If they come back, I return. If they fall asleep, I dream. "Is it you?", I say to myself....

But I don't answer.

Pursued, wounded by the same accent - which I don't know if it's mine - against the very echo of the same memory in this infinite maze of mirrors buried alive.

Thus she lies in the labyrinth of features that pass inexhaustibly between her convolutions: laborious and sniffing among her own images and memories.



[1] A short novel that appeared in three successive issues of La Revista de España, forming part of a series of costumbrista paintings that the author submitted to the printer starting in 1869. Biweekly installments in issues 26 (25-III-1869), pp. 270-293, 27 (10-IV-1869), pp. 321-348 and 28 (25-IV-1869), pp. 481-493. The plot is plotted in the opposition established by the one who represents the nobility of the coats of arms, the nobleman Don Robustiano Tres-Solares y de la Calzada, with the herald of the money of the "talegas", the jándalo Toribio Mazorcas.

[2] In The Trial of Neera, a famous prostitute of Corinth brought to court in Athens between 343 and 340 BC, Demosthenes, who is credited with the paternity of the text, argues to save the honor of his trade and displays misogyny worthy of a better cause: "We have the heterosexuals for pleasure, the maids to take care of our daily bodily needs and the wives to bring us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our homes". This is the only text (speech) of forensic literature featuring a woman -also a foreigner and a prostitute with the approval of her husband, the Greek citizen Stephanus- that has been preserved from the world of the classical Helad.

[3] A radical plastic organization that burst onto the Madrid scene in February 1957. It is the obligatory reference in the post-war era. The group was originally made up of the painters Rafael Canogar, Luis Feito, Juana Francés, Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera, Antonio Suárez, Antonio Saura, and the sculptor Pablo Serrano. The art critics José Ayllon and Manolo Conde also subscribed to the Manifesto. A year later, the artists Martín Chirino and Manuel Viola joined the Manifesto. Despite the stylistic and language differences, the conceptual coherence of the group stands out. The Manifesto of El Paso, from the pen of José Ayllón, is iconically identified by a design by Antonio Saura that glosses a sculpture by Pablo Serrano. A month later, on the anniversary of the Second Spanish Republic, the group's first exhibition opened its doors at the Buchholz Bookstore-Gallery in the Villa del Oso y el Madroño. After imposing its compass in the unstable panorama caused by the civil war, the group dissolved after a very fertile decade of contributions, which would end up expanding into music, literature, cinema, and architecture.

[4] Vertebral poem of the book Cripta (1937), written by the most humble of the Contemporaries.

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