PINTURA DE AGUA. Audiciones en Vaho (menor) - Sergio Barrera
30 October - 5 December
ON THE EXCELLENT CONDITION
“The fact that I wrote these songs doesn’t necessarily mean that I know what they are about”
In 1952 John Cage was asked to write a manifesto on music, and instantaneous and unpredictable he responded by noting down on a piece of paper a list of three lines: "to write a piece of music is useless" and just below, with the usual quotation marks that save repetition, "to listen to a piece of music is useless" and "to play a piece of music is useless. Afterwards, he completed the list on the right margin, "our ears are now in excellent condition."
In excellent condition to do what? To compose, listen and interpret music.
Could we say the same thing in relation to painting? Without question: only when we’ve freed ourselves from any predisposition, only when we truly dispose ourselves to pay attention, to lose time and look, only then can we consider ourselves in condition to enjoy painting, or in an excellent condition to really enjoy painting, to listen to it in its useless importance.
Our hearing capacity is based on the stimulation of the corresponding sensorial organs, which brings sound perception, its discrimination, significance and in its own way, maybe a sound image, that hazy need to confirm visually what we hear: a way to perceive and to complete space, to place ourselves in space.
Once we are in this excellent condition, let’s concentrate on parameters such as the frequency and the range of what we have in front of us; let’s set out qualities as the intensity or power, the shade or level, the tone or colour and the duration or vibration, and let them affect each other. From here it seems clear: we are faced with a speculation on painting, from within painting (Igor Stravinsky pointed out in his Poetica that music can not express anything but itself; just as painting to Sergio Barrera). Here, brushstrokes that co-exist beyond the objects in space in the undefined space of these paintings; paintings that somehow are –as I said earlier- depth and entertainment; that is: a direct invitation to contemplation of a surface that gets complicated. And I add: when confidence in the eye means all my time to see in order to look.
In homage to the paintings of Pierre Soulages, Clement Rosset wrote “The inherent force of this painting excuses opportunely the author from being present in it: if the effect it has is enough, he will have nothing more to say. A good canvas is the one that only ask of us to be looked at, not to be interrogated about its intentions or its author – in the same way good music just wants to be played and not interpreted, as Maurice Ravel repeatedly pointed out.
The destiny of a painting is to be what it is: painting. These strange paintings –and some with a complicated effect- that only evoke themselves simply are the message that the gesture of some brushstrokes that would even want to not be; gesture and brushstroke, just concentrated rhythm and shade in the peculiar sweep of the surface, floating. So from here, we assist in space at the alliance between a more or less clear sign and an incomprehensible significance.
What if not did Glenn Gould hum to his piano keys while playing? An incomprehensible regret, a murmur not worth to ask about, a soft layer of breath that is almost imperceptible in the recordings.
We shouldn’t interpret, but just enjoy our excellent condition. Something like that seems to have condensed in the four words note in which Ravel answered once more another pianist, the one-handed Paul Wittgenstein, on the controversy of the changes in playing the score of his Concerto Pour la Main Gauche en Ré Majeur (1929-31): “The interpreters are slaves”, he barked. Just the way we are slaves to our breathing.
Each painting, these piles of floating brushstrokes, is like steam in chords and intervals. A writing that would be made out of short melodic phrases, closed, curved, repeated, interspersed and quick. Phrases left aside as the verses of a poem, as a small dragging in coloured waters, maybe minimal expirations in each paragraph, in each exercise in painting. Inspiration, superposition and exhalation of a ruled breathing.
Sergio Barrera's way of painting somehow reproduce the serial musical writing system, in which everything is being repeated harmonically in a kind of melodic test where the object, the colours and the shades are strained in an undefined pictorial space. There is also a certain attraction towards the difficulty of the faltering gesture, concave and convex at the same time (corda mutabilis), that is complemented with asceticism, vehemence and restraint - a certain austerity of only two or three colours in a musical scale - in relation to a low clef and to the necessary excellent condition of ours contemplating silence. In silence.