BIG BANG PALLARES
RATIONALITY E IRRATIONALITY
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANTONIO ZAYA
Heartbreaking image; startling, hideous, apocalyptic. Works that were left as finished by their author, canvases with different titles and dates, from different series, joined together in order to transform them; transgression, in order to make an imposing, volumetric shape anchored to the wall... mutilations, cuts, wall, all of it as one hermetic unit.
BIG-BANG, beginning-end, transformation. A fragment of the Universe -meteorite- as a Universe, as the Artist's Universe.
PALLARES ... beyond what is aesthetic, rational; beyond irrationality, animal instinct and, beyond that, Being, Artist-individual.
ANTONIO ZAYA But surely there is a deliberate intent to build, isn't there?
P. Absolutely. This prism-like construction is very important, as is the need to join the different elements to certain distances and to the wall. This involves a considerably large volume; with shadows that project this volume and which form part of the unleashing of the argument.
For many years, the work was shaped on a flourish a spiral-background as figure like the idea of the mandala that attracts you and protects you, giving you depth, a third dimension. This is a theoretical concept because we work with dimensions, and depth is given by the physical sphere. But there comes a time when it is not I who decides to break through the cloth but, like the tiger in the circus, when it leaps into nothingness and breaks through the blind circle edged by the ring of fire...
Pallares. Octavo mandamiento, 1999 (Serie) | 195 x 260 cm.
A.Z. Apparently, expression leads you to chaos and structure to order, like a vicious circle.
P. To build, in order to be destroyed, over and over again, the human condition. BIG BANG, Universal essence.
A.Z. Continuing in this field of expression -which seems to be in contrast with structure- your aggressive gestures take us back to abstract expressionism and action painting, especially Pollock.
P. I believe that American antecedents, in regard to results, seem to me to be much better than European expressionist. Despite the latter being mainly Symbolist expressionism, with all its historical baggage. American expressionism has as a result an apparently greater power due to the fact that it is largely irrational, much freer. Although they are complementary as well, because there is no absolute rationality or irrationality in the artistic world. Fortunately, however, in art everything is relative. Because we are dealing with expressionism, symbolism, logically there are reference points which, even though you don't look for them, you find along the way in any case.
A.Z. Are the inroads you are making into what we could call a Spanish aesthetic problem deliberate?
P. If you wish, in the approach, but not along the path the work takes. There is an instinct for freeing yourself from historical chains, but it is not easily achieved. You take a meandering course. Within my European tradition, there are added American elements. In any case, and without questioning the importance all this has for me, the confrontation between Picasso and Mondrian that I started in order to explain myself is one of the most important reference points in my work. To me, Mondrian is reason. Picasso, with his freedom, opens the doors to reason. Picasso is the instinctive, intelligent animal; let's say that life pushes him along -vitalism- the filter of his life, chronicler of his experience and the means for the energy that makes this work become transformed, as is. Mondrian is the analytical one, the person who manages, at some point in his career, to make his work become mystic, where a Platonic idea predominates.
Being is never defined by itself, but by opposition and, in this sense, Mondrian is defined by opposition to Picasso and Picasso, instinctively, by opposition to Mondrian. This is my interpretation. I never felt any special aesthetic interest in Mondrian's work; but a priori, in his work, aesthetics isn't important, the concept is important... despite the fact that some see only tablecloths.
Mondrian is the artist with capital letters because he consolidated an absolute paradigm. We cannot discuss perfection in his work, but we can discuss exemplariness. IDEALISM. I feel that Mondrian is an absolutely coherent figure, perhaps like no other in the History of Art, and his chastity ends up affirming his purity.
A.Z. In any case, and going beyond structure, on the one hand, and symbolic expression -as you call it- on the other, there is an element that is implicit in the expression made evident here, which is the prior action itself, what is almost a ritual, the new techniques of violent action on the canvas, or ballet where a type of bullfighting also comes into play, as if you wanted to join need and destiny in the action itself of painting/hurting the canvas.
P. This attitude is instinctive. Try as we might to reason, action is always instinctive. The energy of the action is what predominates over that of prior thought. Lucio Fontana, despite the fact that I have never thought of him whem approaching my work, is an author who has one of the most extraordinary careers in art history because of how essential he is and his approaches to space. For the first time, he builds the work without precedent. His actions are always direct, present on two dimensions. The problem of the Artist is spatial, proper space/improper space, which, for that reason, is architectural.
A.Z. But you are starting to consider the need for a third dimension, the insufficiency of both.
P. Exactly, exactly. In my case, it would be a physical dimension. It's not that I'm interested in this three-dimensional aspect, but painting has led me there. This interaction has made these paintings -which had been sleeping in the studio- transform themselves, be reborn, like wood waiting for the moment to become fire. This communication that is established between building and destroying, building and destroying anew, is the BIG BANG: opposites that are derived from action in space.
A.Z. A kind of infinite boomerang effect.
P. That is precisely why I use these rhomboidal shapes. Because they are on a diagonal, they become visually active, they turn, searching for the highest complements to dialogue, interaction. There is a concentration and an expansion in dialogue.
A.Z. The mark of the primary colours of bullfighting -red, white and black- also make up the framework or symbolic universe of blood, violence, war (Goya, Picasso), where this battle takes place. In this sense, I understand the reference to Spain which, in expression as well as in argument, some attribute to your work, although these themes have become habitual or, in your case, are universal, which is not the case in the bullfighting universe.
P. Bullfighting is not my religion, because an artist is not involved in religion, but I am involved in the metaphor along the lines of ordering, entering and leaving as long as it is necessary, and interpreting with the sacrifice of the bull, life. It is essential to leave reality in order to enter the universe of ideas.
A.Z. At the least, bullfighting contributes in your work to building a vision of the world in which each element makes up a closed whole, like a circular universe.
P. Whenever attempts have been made to symbolize beyond the bullfight itself, entering in the ritual of the sacrifice, whether by Bergamín, Caro Baroja or Alberto Cardín, Manuel Delgado or other different anthropologists, this has always revolved around a somewhat precarious symbology. In regard to universal concepts, the bullring echoes everything that happens; it tosses the universal spiral into the ring where, more than the bullfighter or matador, what is important is the bull. Ritual as catharsis. The blood of the bull has to heal, purify, or that is the intent of the collective, represented by the bullfighter. The bull holds all known and not-yet-known aspects of the universe, of the animal-human condition, all positive values in the bull: innocence, purity, nobility, breeding, drive, value, strength; in short, positive energy. The bull is condemned to deception from the moment it hits the golden bullring, the cosmic labyrinth in which it will be physically defeated. What is essential in the bullfight ritual is that the intent of the collective is to heal with the bull's blood, which is the artist's blood; which is not possible. In this universe, woman is red, the gravitational axis that drives the cosmos. Blood's blood, life. Reason is not necessary, because woman is Life.
All this that I'm telling you is essential to entering into the symbology of colour in my work.
Pallares. Oil on canvas, technical detail
A.Z. The battles between yellow and red, blood and sand, do not announce parallel universe, in my opinion, but rather elements of a unique world and of a multiple vision in the ring, not of just one subject but of several identities being explored. What I mean is that, like the red in the painting with sand, they are linked like ying and yang in a dual universe, where inside and outside, depth and surface, background and figure, light and gloom are like a story line that always leads back, like a vicious circle.
P. Eternal return. If one must search for an interpretation in that flourish -spiral-, that unbroken line, that story line that leads us from the real world to the world of ideas - Myth of the Cave, of Plato. In this case, symbolically, because it has all become enriched. If that unbroken line didn't exist, the works would be like the absurd.
A.Z. In these paintings, there is also a connection to the Baroque and its world of opposites and folds.
P. My work, from a formal point of view, is absolutelye Baroque, even originally, when it is conceived. But, above all, it is an idealistic, absolutely idealistic work. In its language, it is Baroque and expressionist, obviously. Aesthetics is always a consequence.
There is a dominating structure, but it is all free. I identify the individual with the painting, placed against the circle -spiral- the becoming. The square fights against the spiral; ... "and someday I will return to die like the rest". Applied to Beethoven, the Fifth Symphony, man fighting, holding up, against the world. At the end of the Ninth Symphony, ... and the choruses, man giving himself up to be devoured, ... his ideal having been saved. Drama of the collective, Tragedy in the Artist.
Pallares. Blanco escéptico, 2002 | Ø 150 cm.
A.Z. To what extent is or has your life been wrapped up in this work?
P. From the moment in which, in adolescence, I clearly saw that you define yourself at that moment before Life, before the world, or you never define yourself. From my Conscience I give myself up to the Work, the Idea, regardless of Life, regardless of the cycle of the blood; ... if you enter the red, there's no going back; ... reaching the red from the black is negation. The Artist needs to reason in order to interpret Life. Woman is Life, and there is no need to reason at all in order to interpret it.
A.Z. Gaston Bachelard spoke of a non-knowing, to which I think you make reference here, which is not ignorance, but overcoming knowledge. This contrasts with the action you want to carry out, the photographs of which will be exhibited in the Cotthem Gallery in Barcelona, with a live bull and, specifically, with the animal's horns, which you will use as tools to break the canvas.
P. Like Moses challenging God. The Universal Laws, the Order of Culture, what is rational, stamped with all its brute force on the horns of what is irrational... slits from the Artist on the canvas... Rationality and irrationality transformed into ENERGY, ONE.
A.Z. In this and many other ways, your work is a vindication of the instant, apart from the bullfighting metaphor. It seems that there is no memory, nor do I know where it is resolved, whether it be in the future or in the present itself, or perhaps there is no ending at all.
P. Of the instant, that's right. The bullfighting metaphor has also been very important in explaining my work, that pressure cooker, the most complete metaphor in History.
A.Z. In your option, do you have to burn yourself out on the way?
P. I think you have to give it your all when you're an artist, but that does not mean attempt the impossible. Madness and wisdom.
A.Z. A lie about which all mystics complain, whether they be Jewish, Buddhist, Christian or Moslem: the inability of language to speak of what is essential, such as destiny and the need to remain silent...
P. Reason, the artist, is the defect of the Universe... the INTRUDER. Tragedy, Being for Death... Animal instinct, natural course. How absurd it is, in the end, to want to explain, discover something so essential to the world. The forbidden tree, Pandora's box; ... beginning to die because you feel and you know you are alive.
Something so cruel to tell it, like pouring cold water on them, to everyone else. Explaining Life... and discovering, in order to later try and forget with frightened eyes, ... no going back, ... irremediable journey to the MADNESS of knowledge.
Explaining life to the dead.
Pallares. Celda mística, 2000 | 130 x 97 cm.
I may be interpreting in my own way the attempt of Joseph Beuys to explain what Life, the World is to a dead hare. The great absurdity. What motivates the Artist is to search, ... what most hurts him, to find; horrendous satisfaction.
Idealism is an attitude, ... we are the result of an experience from Socrates-Plato.
The things that are explained stop interesting us, said Nietzsche. "from the moment things are explained, they die". Do we even get to know them ever, or do we need to believe this is so? What you already feel should not be explained, only expressed. The Truth in the Bull.
Pallares. Day Brake, 2001. Methacrylate, motors, liquids and white pigment | Ø 50 cm x 30 cm (each one)