Travesía Cuatro is pleased to present an exhibition of recent works by Vicky Uslé, the artist from Cantabria in Spain, mostly comprising large-format paintings on paper hung on walls painted in carefully chosen colours, like deep red, which, taken together, simulate the changing colour of the leaves of a tree ablaze in autumn.
This show of paintings also includes a short video in which one can see, over and over again, the vast monumental embrace-cum-dance between the wind and a tree whose top leaves reddened by the fall move in such a way that they recall shimmering flames of fire while the sound brings to mind the crackling noise of a blazing bonfire.
The artist made the video and the large-format paintings in her studio in Saro (Cantabria), located in a striking setting surrounded by massive trees of all kinds, almost like a botanical garden that includes the red maple which lends itself as the core theme that shapes the content of the overall body of work on show in this (magnificent) exhibition.
In her paintings, colour slowly takes on paramount importance on extremely delicate and intense surfaces. Presence and body of colours and gesture merge into forms then break up again only to rediscover them powerfully, through evocative and categorical wefts, in atmospheres of powders and pigments. Forms that grow, redolent and complex, that float, advance and reassert, unfolding in large open spaces like seeds and suggestions that become deeper and more emphatic forms, often bound to recollections of nature. The overall whole is, to my way of thinking, a climactic twilight of vibrant colours.
The artist belies the clichéd conventions on the use and treatment of pastel, generally wed to small formats, and reveals herself in its use to show us an equally fabulous and surprising inner landscape, like a colossal artist’s glass, which, like a diamond, eye and unexplored planet, invites us to free our gaze in an exercise that is free, dynamic and also reflective.
These latest works, larger than her previous output, are the conclusion of a slow process of maturing and refining. They are made with a deft use of elements, as if looking through a magnifying glass at details of prior works, getting closer to their core, and enacting a joyful celebration of the language of painting, a true invitation to set out on an adventure without prejudices, continuing her exploration of the possibilities of painting, yet without outrightly rejecting the tradition of formalism.
Her new images are also slower, even more silent and more concentrated. They suggest perhaps that we ought to pay attention to more subtle changes, but in our interior as well as in our surroundings. Take for instance A.B.1 a work in which the image opens up like a gigantic red crest that folds back on itself, possibly evoking the head and the beak of a bird or turning into a vast blaze of fire. The intention in saying this is not to delimit interpretation, but to demonstrate that these ambiguous and forceful forms invite us to slow, attentive contemplation full of suggestive readings.
Vicky has double Spanish and US nationality, and lives and works part of the year between Saro and New York.
In Canada, a country whose flag features the silhouette of a maple leaf and which is ruled at the moment by a progressive government very much at odds with the ultraconservative leader of the USA, there are huge forests of Freemanii Autumn Blaze trees, a species whose gradual change of colour in autumn creates truly impressive visual spectacles. The proposition, implicit in this exhibition, not only invites us to take pleasure in a vibrant spectacle of colours and forms in transformation, but also to keep alive the flame of hope.