You Hear Time with Your Right Ear
Original title: El tiempo se oye por la oreja derecha
Acrylic on paper and wood
Dimensions: 156.5 x 250 cm
Reference: ACF0391
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Between 1983 and 1984, Gordillo did a series of paintings entitled ‘Gruyère’, which he numbered with letters. The starting point is a “duet” (specifically entitled Gruyère A), and the series uses this double structure. These artworks represent the first time that he consistently employs a graticule with a uniform background, which serves to introduce other figures and elements in the foreground, thus establishing a kind of shared visual motif that unifies the different artworks. A weft of white points "pierces" black surfaces, which allows the artist to establish a certain sense of depth, although the tensions of the graticule are generally maintained in a prevailing flatness. El tiempo se oye por la oreja derecha belongs to a series that also uses a graticule as its principle of formal unity. The artist applied this strategy quite regularly from then on, allowing him to increasingly play with the contrast between depth and flatness. The graticule becomes a basic, pictorial element that organises the rhythm of the painting and the tensions between abstract optical effects and forms with representative or figurative roots. In this case, the graticule is shaped by a gesture possessing a certain corporeality, which in turn gives a particular relief to the forms placed upon it: on the left-hand side of the painting, a corporeal form that vaguely evokes some kind of object; on the right-hand side, several forms displaying the same texture as the graticule, cut out against a white surface that acts as a double background. In a way, this painting bears close relation to the atmosphere of the “meanders”, but here the background is very energetic and does not have a map or template effect, but rather something more temporal, almost musical, like a sustained vibration. There have been frequent allusions to the importance of music in Gordillo's painting as a metaphor for structure and contrasts as well as narrative or rhythmic linearity. Perhaps one needs to add vibration of form and colour to this, yet another musical metaphor. Sound as vibration and reverberation seems to be present in this piece, as well as in other parallel artworks sharing the same graticule structure, such as En la barriga del lobo feroz, En forma de fábula or Condensaciones, all dating from 1988. It should be pointed out that on the international scene, the use of serialised backgrounds has been a common practice in some forms of abstract painting. These tend to have a greater sensibility for the legacy of Pop appropriation and are known as “pattern painting”. However, in the case of Gordillo, whose pictorial sensibility could bring up associations to these international tendencies, the use of a graticule corresponds more specifically to the need for creating backgrounds that are nourished by their own gestural and formal constants, upon which other narratives can be integrated more seamlessly.

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