A web of unfettered brush strokes

Biel Mesquida

biel-mesquidaWhen I think of Dolores Sampolís paintings, when I want to write about the works on exhibit by this artist of the delicate, two essential and unique characteristics that run through them come to mind: absolute freedom in their pictorial pursuit, on the one hand, and a high capacity for risk taking to reveal the emergence of objects, situations and multiple meanings, on the other. This becomes clear in her painstaking labour, like that of a miniaturist capturing details in flight, combined with a deep, intimate poetics, a sensorial flow that ignores neither the strongest of accusations nor the sharpest of cries. The use of the ancient, classical, technique of painting with oil on wood is already a statement of principles: slowness as an exercise, airiness as an aim, and pacient daily endeavour as a means to producing these inventions of beauty.

Abís aeri [Airy Abyss] is an excellent title because it sums up in two words one of the ideas underlying the whole exhibition: paradox becomes so excessive that it turns into oxymoron, a contradictio in terminis combining two concepts that are the opposite of each other to give rise to a new concept. A new concept enfolding both the wisdom of the past and all the cultural baggage on which it is founded and a promise of the future opening onto unseen territories the images inspire in us. Dolores Sampol is well aware that she paints in a contemporary atmosphere of pitfalls, confusion and consumerism and, to express the truth with the greatest precision and accuracy, she finds personal solutions that traverse her body onto the canvas to become a metaphor irradiating a novel sensitivity.

biel-mesquida-01What impresses me in her paintings, especially in La caricia [The caress], ¿Bailas? [Do you dance?] or Dessús la mar, davall el cel  [Above the sea, under the sky], is the generous ascetics of colour in the delicate brush strokes of a woman who knows her trade thoroughly to the point of virtuosity, with subjects (the body of a swimmer, a high-heeled shoe, a pair of panties, pair of glasses, fish, insects, a hand, feet, etc) steeped in the energy of the artistís need to reveal them in their poetic essence. The skinless hand, body and feet convey much about naked feelings and the capacity for disguise that the epidermis often represents. In other works, such as Teixint, homenatge a Emily Dickinson [Weavng, a tribute to Emily Dickenson], Bosc de pinzells, homenatge a Joan Miró [Forest of paintbrushes, a tribute to Joan Miró] and Coincidència amb Carson McCullers [Coincidence with Carson McCullers], the artistís message is made all the more intense with the use of the most simple pictorial elements and objects (a cloud and numbers, paintbrushes and a hand, another hand and a handless watch) on which the active gaze forms a deposit from the coexistence of everyday senses and sentiments which are a noble canticle to names and things. They leave me braintrembling.

I admire the naturalism of their scientific enlightenment in the service of such an original and synchronic visual construct and the emotions it awakens, the high quality of their magic of such daring audacity and their invention of such controlled exuberance. The works with hyperrealistic characters ó Líhome que mirava la lluna verda [Man gazing at a green moon], Enlluernada pels peixos  [Dazzled by fish], Cinema París are impregnated by a chromatic force moulded from deliberate discrection and a potent expressivity which pierces one like dark lightning flashing out of a naked gaze, out of an enigma. Lastly, the works showing the uniforms of Guantánamo prisoners confirm that art and accusation can go hand in hand without becoming demagogy and that denouncing oppression and a call for help works to perfection in a sketch of uniforms where the brush strokes convey at once suffering, torture, injustice and state imperialism at a time when the rights of the individual are being trampled underfoot. As they also convey how well painting can pursue new ways to say so many things about ourselves.

These paintings must be savoured slowly to fully absorb all that Dolores Sampol has imbued them with, to allow the colours and ideas they contain to seep into the lining of our spirit charging us with the lucidity, the love and the fragility that sustains them.

Mallorca, 2010


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