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Arrabio Escarlata

Andrés Waissman

Text: Adriana Lauria

27.10.21 - 11.12.21

In the forge of colors

    In the crucible pig iron and slag are separated, even if they come from the same combination of elements. As in the blast furnace where the transformation of iron ore in the presence of fluxes and catalysts takes place, Waissman makes the scarlet flow of his works emerge to the incandescent heat of creative passion. This time, his process does not trace the mineral darkness by extracting the primordial blacks from its depths, nor does it concentrate his own biography on the oxides of emblematic shavings.

   Instead, color bursts forth as a substance still in a state of liquefaction, gliding over surfaces in rapid gestures, slipping in drips and splashes, as if pigments were running uncontrollably, unstoppable like cast iron. But the artist is there to tame them, to give measure to the accident, to give shape to the brushstroke and give it meaning. He mentions the controlled chance used by Jackson Pollock who had learned it from the musician John Cage. Like them, he wants to give an account of a world that is in continuous evolution, of the fluency with which the transformations in the environment that we go through occur daily and that affect us as individuals.

   Fiery reds, comparable to the scarlet of the rich fabrics with which the aristocrats of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance distinguished themselves, dominate in several of these paintings, sometimes unique in tonality, but diverse in density and morphology. The artist feels that in these works he proceeds like an engraver who prints his motifs with monochrome that ponders, by contrast, the white quality of the surfaces, allowing the fabrics to exist. On some occasions this decision is transferred to inks –quantious set that gave rise to this series of works–, allowing green brush strokes interspersed with flowered yellows in the expansion of the drops that mix their tonalities, to float in the void of the paper as if outside the dreamlike vision of a sunny landscape. Or constitute the clear atmosphere in which waves of turquoise and blue splashes are repeated, making present the reverberation of the water exploded in foam and atomized in the wind.

   The open frames that use the dawn of the support as a constitutive color of the composition, increase their density from piece to piece: airy, in which curved red graphics are replicated from a horizon whose emptiness makes the suggestion of space infinite - bristling here and there with the dilution of the pigment– an atmospheric mass of cerulean and scarlet supervenes that in the rhythm of the brushstrokes, overlays and transparencies, seem to weave a filigree populated by elusive and ambivalent figures. In the same way it happens when red enamel intersects with black, a combination applied with a gestural strategy that on this occasion takes on an impetuous trace. And that is not less than the one that gathers the greenish blues crossed by the aerodynamic red strokes that, like fire birds, fly through the dense foliage.

   The association with the landscape genre is confirmed when the artist reiterates that the history of painting, in particular that of Argentina, accompanies him as a capital esteemed since childhood, seeing, admiring and learning from the masters. From the first shock received by the way Roberto “Cachete” González works, or being dazzled by the works of Emilio Pettoruti, Enrique Policastro, Augusto Schiavoni, Roberto
Aizenberg, Zdravko Ducmelic, Leónidas Gambartes, Ramón Gómez Cornet, Domingo Candia, Raquel Forner, Rómulo Macció or their guide and friend Antonio Seguí. These references may not appear as a textual quotation in his own production, but rather as a sensitive continuous bass that insists on the transmission of the trade and its secrets as the painter's should be.


   But still, the apparently impossible to link with any reference, that is, the smooth and flat exercise of the abstract option, is contaminated with what is seen and with the images that the title of the exhibition evokes when, against a stratified background of yellows, Red spots coagulate and sizzle like the restless - and risky - matter of a foundry.

   Reds and yellows are repeated throughout the inks made on cardboard found among those used for commercial packaging. On more than one occasion, Waissman has chosen its materials outside of those made expressly for artistic practice. He knows that the quality and orthodoxy of the procedure do not always respond to the expressive needs of each work. The satin and wax-textured surface of these media allows you to fluidly run, move and drag inks almost as if you were modeling them, while the colors applied to them come alive. And they will stay bright despite partially covering a yellow with wide, translucent black brushstrokes onto which dramatic red spots have been dropped. But, despite the fact that sensuality is at the base of the technical decisions and these imply the enjoyment of the manipulation of the materials and the excitement of their discoveries, the artist insists that the tragic runs through his entire production. There are his livid sculptures from the Mythological Animals series (2018), erected as an explicit reminder of the violence that runs through human history.

   Although his approach varies, in this last pictorial cycle he does not shy away from the dramatic. The circumstances of creation confirm this: nine months of confinement in his house in El Tigre, spatially restricted by not being able to have his workshop in the capital due to the pandemic, which, like the plague of medieval stories, traveled the whole world without regard or distinction, killing hundreds of thousands and keeping millions in check. The confinement, the fear for his own life and that of others, the unfounded, ignorant and malicious rumor that added terror to the sinister situation, led him to take refuge in an outrageous work. That frenzy was also a reaction to the ambiguous and disturbing climate, with clear apocalyptic edges, which in one way or another seeped into the paintings.

   Although some of these compositions invoke the apparent innocence of a still life made up only of a pot and a fruit –austerity reminiscent of Fortunato Lacámera, although Waissman mentions Roberto Rossi, another insurmountable in the genre–, the uncertainty of the drawing, the magma of spellings in which the substance of the central motif seems to fall apart and the black of the support plane that contaminates the rest of the elements with its gloom, makes us think of the ungraspable condition of beings expressed in things.

   Among the more than a thousand inks made, a classification could be made in which the still lifes would cover hundreds. Among them there is one in which a kind of flowered vase can be seen, whose contours are in the process of disintegration in the golden space that surrounds it. It is possible to conjecture in this treatment the intention of making appear an everyday object pierced by a metaphysical climate, similar in tenor to the experience that the artist had contemplating The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci during his last trip to Europe. In front of her he felt challenged by the sacred power of the scene represented, but he also found that the deterioration that the mural has suffered, the loss of figures and the eroded textures that cover it, became an artistic plus that enriches the construction site.

   On this basis, he conceived the series that he presents today, which responds to a complex composed of emotions, certainties, desires, beliefs and fears, giving human substance to the profession of faith in art as a sensitive instrument of penetration of the world. He concluded that it is not necessary to separate the slag from the pig iron, but, on the contrary, fused in the crucible of pictorial work, one can obtain the comprehensive substance that encourages us to transcendence, to peer out, despite our weaknesses, to the abysses of the sublime.

 Adriana Lauria
Buenos Aires, octuber 2021

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