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Four Visions of the Sea I
Original title: Cuatro visiones del mar I
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 162.5 x 200.5 cm
Landscape in Patricio Cabrera's work is like an axis, a reference above and beyond any thematic anecdote, a kind of recurrent aesthetic argument which also provides important keys to an understanding of the development of his painting in relation to the creation of images. If we take the whole of his work into consideration, with the evolution of representation of the landscape, it is then that we can more clearly appreciate the central keys of his work. One of the outstanding aspects of it is the way he understands painting: as a mechanism capable of generating images with symbolic overtones, in close relation with meanings and implications that clarify the different ways of perceiving the visual as an event of memory. Untitled (1985) and Cuatro visiones del mar I (1993)- two of the artist's works in the collection -may belong to two periods which are quite different in form and far apart in time, but they are two different ways of approaching the idea of landscape. Untitled is part of a large series of works done on the wild rough countryside of the north of the province of Almería. The landscape is constructed by integrating different symbolic figurative elements, such as the wall of a Mediaeval castle, a column supporting a statue and a flag flying in the wind. They all surround and characterise the panorama of a mountain enclosed in a clumsy border that acts as a frame. The scene takes on the shape of a disconnected, fragmentary story, measuring the gestural resources and the scope of the figuration in much the same way as the Italian Transavanguardia -specifically Enzo Cucchi- organised their landscape stagings. The critics at the time alluded to certain surreal components to explain the construction of scenes and stories that tended to create a dreamlike atmosphere; nevertheless, the outstanding feature of this way of approaching landscape is the wish for narrative. Cabrera's later work gradually stripped away the story-telling possibilities and set out a far more allusive and synthetic pictorial field in which the landscape elements were evoked by signs and hints, fragments of branches, hills or mists. He avoids description and emphasises atmospheres with Baroque tones through colour. His time in New York made him even more synthetic by introducing geometry and flat colour, as well as an allusive manner based on the interrupted line, where we can detect certain echoes of late Klee. The start of the nineties was marked by the eruption of ornamental elements that sometimes act as cartographic landscapes and at others as symbolic hieroglyphics. We cannot speak of a homogenous style, but of different sides of image production. In the drawn line that characterises Cabrera's work in the early nineties psychedelic tensions, dreamlike cartography and surrealist distortions converge and tend to generate diffuse landscapes. It is in that context that we have to place Cuatro visiones del mar I, which, with other similar pictures, makes up a closed series on the representation of landscape as a stereotype. If we compare it with the landscape Untitled, in this work we come to the outer borders of nakedness and simplification, but also to a space where authorship is called into question to the benefit (critically speaking) of production and stereotype. The picture is divided into four fields of identical dimensions; each of them describes, with lines that cut off the forms and establish the changes and inflections of the territory, a trite panoramic landscape. The images seem to take on the appearance of elemental wood engravings, in which the colour has been reduced to a background and a uniform tone for the lines. In this series the landscape may be identical in each work, but colour variations are introduced. The landscape is produced like a banal snapshot, an ideal place, which could be reproduced either in a children's geography book or the leisure pages of a newspaper, where the game is to spot the differences. The story disappears to give way to a more articulated discourse in a reflection on the image.
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