NEOCHROMATIC WORKS. GUILLERMO PORTIELES
By, CARLOS M. LUIS
Painting from a single act: Choosing any object, in this case a urinal and elevating it to the category of art, the vanguard branches out through diverse paths. One of these has made possible the profusion of an art called... conceptual, whose intention is reduced to create a mental reaction by the part of the public in detriment of the visual.
In it's consequence, this pictorial art has found itself threatened in it's own foundation, however there are other existing currents that are foreign to those capers finding expressions that respond to diverse necessities that I would grade... of poetic origin.
In depth, it try's to to continue a tradition dividing it at the same time, as it has always occurred in the history of art and of the idea. Let's say that, it is the necessity of the search in all of the creative process, that without poetry it would not be able to arrive anywhere.
In this sense the Surrealists were right , when they emphasized over this deed.
If we revise the work of Guillermo Portieles, we encounter diverse interpretive options, all conducing towards a focal point where the daily reality plays a preponderate role. In the first place following the path of a tradition, fertile in alternative proposals, surprisingly embedded in his paintings,
that the treatment given to the human figure tends toward two slopes, the expressionist and the one that surfaced at the root of Pop Art with painters like Jim Dine and others, that continued exploring it's diverse ramifications.
As far as the first the placement of the face, within such unusual frames like... torn automobile tires, lets us perceive them in a context provisory of allusions that go from the tragic to the caricaturesque and in the same manner of the old Medieval Illuminate's.
Guillermo Portieles surrounds some of these figures with others that remind us of the treatment called ("Drolleries") utilized by the illustrators of the Middle Ages., to create at the level of the central images of the incunabulum, another narrative without being destitute of humor.
What relation can exist, between his paintings of faces that at times contemplate us like mortuary masks, with the other surrounding figures that he paints? ( Possibly) none. His affinity, parts from there with the poetic liberty that the artist employs to be able to appropriate his pictorial universe.
I underline (Possibly) because the windows that open the paintings of Portieles propose a diverse exegesis.
In some of his paintings, the narrative makes his political intentions obvious, "Manegador" - ("Driver") or social ("Builder") while in others the contrast between the central image and those that surround them, produce an interesting counterpoint between realities that clash between themselves, as we can perceive ("Hombre del Medioevo" - (Medieval Man") or ("Mujer") - ("Woman").
Several of these faces are manipulated to the most extreme eloquence: ("Cara de Goma") - ("Tire Face") reproduces the terrible face of Medusa or ("Retrato Verde") - ("Green Portrait"), places us in a nightmarish apparition. In both cases the face serves as a bridge to reach another dimension where the traditional concept of beauty yields to the esthetic subjectivity.
The human figure then serves Guillermo Porteieles, as a center of irradiation permitting him to explore the most concealed spaces of the interior that inhabits within it.. From this point of view, his art maintains narrow points of contact with the Romanticism that discovered all of the expressive possibilities, from Goya to Gericault. The monochromatic scenery where he places his figures, uplifts the associations that the painter maintains, with a realism that challenges him and the interior vision where in the last instance produces the occurrence of the painting.
This, is the real inner scenery of his work. An interior penetrated by the world of objects, ( chairs: "Looking for Shelter" and houses: "Edificios Moviles" -"Moveable Buildings" above all), of the human figure of animals and plants, by results, giving us a combination that in some cases possess a strong theatrical element inducible to the construction of objects, like "Open House", "The Parade" or installations like , "Memoria en Persistencia"- "Memory in Persistence"
Other elements that point towards the opposite direction appear in his work. Those elements contain a gestural Character that employs abstract strokes. We should pay attention to them as intentions to annul the contours of the figures and creating at the same time "Tierra de Nadie" -"Land of No One"
amid his strong strokes.
Oils, like "Negra Modelo" - Black Model" or "Llevador" - "Carrier" permit us to examine those two manifestations of his work. The one that maintains attached to produce reality and the one that in some instances pretends to annul it by means of the impact of the brush stroke or the accidental paint drip.
The fact that Guillermo Portieles is sparing with the use of color, indicates to us that his preferences are inclined to create a species of a poetic whirlpool of visions, that go beyond appearances to capture the essence.
Drawing, in his case is a process that helps to awaken the relationship that exists, between what an artist interprets as his own reality and what exists beyond awaiting, as Calderon de la Barca used to say, "to be seen through a glass"
The world of Guillermo Portieles is disturbing, because he questions us. Paintings like "Gato Magico - "Magic Cat", "Casa de Descanso" - "House of Rest", or "El Protegido" - "The Protected" possess an oneiric quality that suggests a fantasy. that trespasses the limitations of the reality mentioned above.
There are other encounters produced in these paintings, that we have yet to to figure out, why they occurred.
The totemic construction of "casa de Descanso" - "House of Rest" with it's profile of eyeless faces jutting out to conclude a well draughted house , creates an atmosphere of unexpected mystery. This atmosphere, that Romantics like Goya or Fusseli, knew how to utilize with great mastery also has not been rare in some contemporary painters like Anselm Kieffer or Guillermo Portieles.
Once again, in the confusion created within the actual art world, a confusion which Carlos Granes has criticized correctly in his recent book "El Puño invisible" - "The Invisible Fist", another painter surfaces that has given a rotund no, to certain tendencies in tune with publicity and the market..
With work loaded with interrogations, Guillermo Portieles responds to the questions that we are asking and that shall always be asked, when we stand in front of a true work of art. These questions may vary according to the epoch that we are granted to live in, but it has the alterable sustenance :
Where do they lead... these windows, that he opens up to us?
Translated By Ana Maria Sarlat
Interdisciplinary Artist/ Poet