HUMBERTO POBLETE-BUSTAMANTE / 21.03 - 14.05 / 2015


HUMBERTO POBLETE-BUSTAMANTE / 21.03 - 14.05 / 2015



Ooo She does, yes She does!

The difference between abstraction and figuration-this opposition being viewed in the light of a new strategy to defend the main traits whereby we recognise them-is probably not determined by the aesthetic dogmas that are inherent in and which share in the poetic and presential flow of their respective universes. Rather, it is the outcome of the relationship of these two territories of diverse interpretative signification with and their commitment to Time as the ‘maker' (other, invisible and parallel to the making of the artist) of the formal construction of the work. These two realities are, of course, ‘poetic'; moreover, they are ‘poetic' in the same way that Barthes understood the concept of ‘poetry in art': the search for the inalienable meaning of things. ‘Things', facts, can only be ‘time', but whereas in figuration time bedecks itself as identificatory, relational or historical, in abstraction it chooses to immerse itself in a perceptive emotion that lacks a compass by which to navigate-the cardinal points that that are always a ‘place in history' having been eliminated-opting instead for an oceanic dimension (which is undoubtedly also a ‘place' but one that is unrecognisable, a ‘non-place') that restructures the very idea of ‘seeing'. There is, however, a point at which abstraction and figuration recognise each other in a fleeting shot/reverse shot, coming to see each other before a single reflection. This point stems from a shared desire to prevent any escape, as Pavese magnificently puts it in This Business of Living, in which he says "no thought, however fleeting, however secret, passes from the world without leaving a trace."

In the exhibition of work by Humberto Poblete-Bustamante(Santiago de Chile, 1966) at the Galería Alegría in Madrid, there are as many tracks and traces as there are thoughts and reflections, the former being visible and signified, whereas the latter are invisible and organise meaning. In this show, entitled Ooo SHE DOES, YES SHE DOES!, the artist presents us with works from his "Garden Paintings" series. One highly significant fact when it comes to commenting on the work of an artist with whom I was unfamiliar till now is that this ignorance allows you a certain ‘explicative' liberty, or it places you in the open territory of ‘free' speculation that is not indebted to previous temporal referents nor contingent on prior knowledge of the artist's work or life. Consequently, the analysis forces you to a consideration en abyme, not so much vis-à-vis the artistic work being discussed but instead as regards your own position in relation to it. In short, you have to accept a degree of agitation in your own thinking and writing. Or, to put it another way, you have to re-inscribe yourself in the strange temporal cadence you are pushed into by the very act of contemplating the works.
Are we really certain that what we are looking at is ‘solely' well-executed paintings, canvases painted with an unconcealed mastery in the resolution, strategically positioned blots and bands of optimistic colours, abstractions signalled by the boldness of the brushwork that could be described as ‘cheerful and confident'? The artist is undoubtedly hiding something from us, perhaps unwittingly, and he is of course even less interested in confusing the spectator with ‘conceptual' traps. Even so, it is the abstract imagery itself (so sophisticatedly ‘European' or historical/avant-garde yet keeping at an arrogant distance from these cultural parameters) that leads you to suspect that there is an extra measure of mystery, an additional refined enigma. As we draw closer to the paintings (as they demand and which is advisable), it seems that the abstract ‘oceanic dimension' mentioned earlier recedes, giving way to a ‘figurative' consideration of these blotted canvases. It is now that we see appear, with great subtlety, the signs and marks of the artist's body in motion, the traces of a humanity in the exercise of a creativity that it is always more demanding than it seems; the successes and failures of a pictorial gesturality that refuses to make do with being solely ‘abstract' but also wants to be ‘figurative'. Having reached this point, we can state that the canvases have indeed been painted, but it would be no less important to say that they have also been manipulated, prepared, ‘insulted', blotted or spotted. They have, without question, been lived, but not in the sense that every work has been ‘experienced' (to do otherwise would be impossible) by the artist during the process of its configuration, but ‘lived' as a constituent element in the germination of the piece, and this is what the spectator will interpret as enigma and mystery, or as a certain idea of intelligent and productive artistic clandestinity.

The work of Poblete-Bustamante is undoubtedly ‘Time', but we would not be wrong in saying that it is also expanded ‘Nature', pictorial land art, earth art on a canvas on a stretcher. As you enter the gallery, the ground gives under your weight; in other words, you feel the gravity of your own ‘physicality': the floor of the exhibition space has been covered and maintained using a natural grass lawn. Nature unquestionably also ‘paints'. We can also say that in the artist's work Time-an essential element in his oeuvre-is ‘European', which I put within inverted commas due to the elegant distance from the continent where he was not born but where he lives. Now, the treatment of Nature, which is no less essential than Time, is decidedly South American, namely Chilean, and here no inverted commas are in the least bit necessary, as there is no distance or problem in relation to this reality. I am convinced that the wise union of Time and Nature from different cultural and geographical realities is the main factor that sparked my (considerable) interest in Poblete-Bustamante's work. Yes, Pavese was right: nothing passes from the world without leaving a trace (and this is where the work of this artist becomes strangely ‘figurative'). Of course, the finest art must ensure that the trace persists. In Time. In Nature.

Luis Francisco Pérez