Aída Rubio González at Rosenfeld Porcini

Filed in Reviews by on December 17, 2011

Aída Rubio González: La Vida es un Sueño

Rosenfeld Porcini

15 December 2011 to 18 February 2012


La vida es un sueño – life is a dream. The title of Aída Rubio González’ exhibition at Rosenfeld Porcini prepares us for a journey into a fertile imagination, and that is exactly what we get.

Straight away, I must confess that one of the problems one faces in describing González’ work is that it is difficult to draw similarities with other artists that are truly meaningful. She is clearly not a follower of a school or an -ism; her art is quite unique and she obviously revels in her individualism. That is not to say that her work is without external influences; far from it – the giants of Spanish art, particularly Goya and Velazquez are clearly referenced and revered, and there are hints of Miro and Picasso here too. The figuration is mostly light and impressionistic, yet the colour palette is rich and vivid, reminding me of Gauguin and the Fauvists. But overall, one gets the impression that she just paints, rather unself-consciously, from her own imagination and without a need for conformity. That is not to say that her paintings are somehow chaotic or lack discipline. But in spirit she is more of an artistic freedom-fighter than a soldier in a regiment.

I should warn you that her paintings do not give themselves up easily to casual observation. If you visit the gallery, and I urge you to do so if you have the time, expect to spend a couple of hours there at least because many of the paintings need to be studied at some length to yield even a fraction of their meaning and interest. Stand back and try to take in the scene at once if you can; I can assure you that within moments you will have your nose nearly pressed to the canvas while you greedily soak up every delicious and mysterious detail. Like classic novels, these paintings seem to ask to be read and re-read, something new being noticed and comprehended every time.

González’ paintings are certainly not “snapshots”, crystallising and freezing a point in time. They are cinematic in nature, the scene depicted in each painting looking rather like the set of some film, with numerous plots and sub-plots playing out at the same time. (In his introduction to the exhibition catalogue, Ian Rosenfeld mentions González’ works connection with the films of Pedro Almodovar, which gave expression to “la movida”, the sense of freedom and liberation which followed the death of Franco.) The paintings are surrealistic and dreamlike, but not so much in their representation of objects and scenes as in how the passage of time is conveyed within the static format of the painting. Just like the memory of a dream, details are sometimes fuzzy and the order of events is unclear. Things appear whose significance is not immediately apparent but which seem somehow portentous, dredged from the depths of the unconscious for some as yet unknown purpose. Certain characters and motifs (superheroes, pop stars and pink Cadillacs, for example) appear and reappear within the paintings, in an order which appears not quite random yet is still tantalisingly incomprehensible.

González is still in her early thirties and although that may go some way to explaining why her paintings are so fresh and joyful, the extent to which she has mastered her medium and brought something new and original to it is, frankly, rather surprising. The fact that her paintings are also extremely approachable and beautiful does not harm her cause, and in the Rosenfeld Porcini gallery, her work has found a space and an ethos which suit it admirably.

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John Kavanagh

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John Francis Kavanagh is the founder and editor of Artists Insight.

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