Re
views

D’Arte
(11 July 2003). ELIZABETH GARTZ’S COLLOQUIES.



By Rocío Castelo / El Norte

Arte, A. C., has been instrumental to cultural development and art promotion in Monterrey.  For 48 years its showrooms have presented works of consecrated artists, professional creators, and novel artists deserving recognition.  Starting this year, and as a special distinction, this institution offers an individual exhibition to the artist awarded the First Place in its now traditional “November Salon”, making effective its recognitions and winning over the interest of spectators.   The particular style of Elizabeth Gartz’s work, who won the award last year, now fills the two exhibition halls of Arte, A. C.  The sensation of a strong presence  holds the attention of the visitors who go through the show.  The investigative and sensitive personality of the painter added to years of work and experimentation in handling forms, texture, color, techniques and materials manages to attract the spectator to share with him her magical and personal perception of nature.  The exhibition is divided in two areas.  In the first one, the dominion and quality Elizabeth has achieved in the different techniques that may be used on paper is patent.  With a deep sense and control of space, she makes use of quite diverse formats.  There are suggestive compositions in which the materials attached acquire a central role.   Collages made with colored papers handmade by the author; water colors of steady strokes with great expressive strength;  graphic prints which complement with drawings and pigments the intention of the artist to give us her novel vision of the self portrait:  feet that float, seen from above, and which seem to be a self reflection of her sense of freedom and mysticism.  In her creations we find elements of surprise, lines that are an invitation to discover, to decipher the forms, to make a meticulous tour to analyze them, to find them again in successive works which have no limits but the imagination and the dialogue that Gartz carries on with the materials and the colors of those windows that open up to her sensibility and her sense of belonging.  Glazes, densities, graffiti, the use of extra-pictorial materials like wax with copal, or electronic printing, dominion of drawing, and the theory of color, bring to the fore the professionalism and the vast experience of the artist while seeking and finding  her own way of expression.  In the center salon  there are15 canvases in which color intertwines multiple planes and dimensions in the midst of transparencies; canvases where the silhouette of the mountains refers us to landscapes made with a non descriptive  plastic language of contrasts, textures, opacities and brilliance; ambiences where the harmony of the colors reigns in a new vision of reality by an artist who has established a deep and intimate relationship with her environment and with her aesthetic impression.

 

The Gartz Dictionary 

Colloquy. m. *Conversation between two, or among more persons. Literary composition in the form of a dialogue.

Within the changes that Arte, A. C. is undertaking  in order to maintain the effectiveness and interest in its institutional exhibitions, as with the November Salon, we find that it offers an individual show to that producer who turned out the winner in the previous yearly event; and it is thus that we arrive to this exhibition by Elizabeth Gartz.  This information is not pointless; on the contrary, its object is to make us see, from the beginning, that it  does not involve just any exhibition, but that of someone who has already achieved recognition under other circumstances and criteria, for her work and among her peers, as deserving of a distinction which is now confirmed and extended through this exhibition.

Gartz now arrives to the already venerable showrooms of Arte, A. C. with about fifteen canvases, and double that number of works on paper.  We should not be surprised given that, for a while now, she made the decision to distribute her time and work between these two media:  painting and graphic work.  In both of them, which are often combined, it is possible to recognize a way of doing things, of working, of preference for a type of palette instead of many others, of application of pigments, of treatment of the technique, of the themes and the intentions she interplays at the moment of approaching the canvas or the surface of the paper.

Colloquies is the title under which the abovementioned show is presented.  A term which, as we can see, refers to a conversation; a conversation which as we noted in the above paragraph, Elizabeth Gartz sustains throughout time with her painting; the painting she practices with, but also with painting in general, from pure form to figuration.  With work on paper, from manufacturing it to the different methods in which it can be printed; also with collage and whatever other way of expression she finds to be the adequate vehicle.  A conversation which also has something to do with those relationships she establishes among the media she resorts to; moreover, it is a conversation between her, the producer, with her surroundings, her daily life, with nature, and with her way of seeing and understanding her vocation. .

 

Dialogue. m Conversation between two or among more persons who alternatively express their ideas or affections. *Literary genre where a controversy between two or among more characters is feigned.

As surprising as it may seem, for Elizabeth Gartz her work could not, from her own point of view, be labeled as “abstract”.  What she does, whether on the canvas or on the sheet of paper, represents something; or better said, it represents—that is, it presents again—a second option to “normal” perception in painting or in printing, something which had its origin in a random combination of visual sensations, and feelings, and emotions that belong both, to the moment of her impression, and to that other moment, the one which appears at the moment of work.  But what does her work re-present?

I dare say that she re-presents everything she sees, but especially all that she keeps a particular relationship with and awakens an emotional reaction in her:  her body, the mountains (always the mountains), the greenery, the sea, but also music, the passing of time, the seasons.  And hauling this material, the moment she starts to work she enters a kind of state of grace where not only such motifs go on acquiring the forms of color,  but in which she maintains—once more—a dialogue which alternatively goes from her inner  self through her hands, to the surface she attacks, telling it what is happening; and this, the piece, answers her questioning, rejecting, convincing, criticizing, always solicitous,  always manageable, always unsatisfied, what she should or should not do.

What I have said is not very difficult to prove in the work that Gartz  is presenting here.  Let us prepare ourselves for a moment not to observe these canvases as mere exercises of form and color;  let us go from the extremes towards the center, and from the center downward,  to the North, to the edges, and let us gradually discover how at the limits of a mass of color the outlines of our mountains are shown. Let us find the figurative notes that appear here and there as souvenirs of the material state of the body; let us follow the rhythm of color when applied with a paint roller, a spatula, a brush, or the mere impression of any object on the surface;  let us understand the sensuality implicit in the liberality of the pigment and the delight of the colors.  Looking at the works this way leads us to understand why they are not “abstract”, but better yet, it brings us closer to  comprehending that state of grace which takes possession of the artist, and through which the sensitive world is transformed into a work of art by the grace of the dialogue carried on between the inner self—what I am—and the outer self—what I do

 

The work on paper Gartz has chosen to present on this occasion reveals what we have been saying. They are pieces of the series Windows in a Dialogue, which of course do not turn into a revelation because of the particle “dialogue” appearing in its title, but rather because of the combination of terms appearing in it. The window frames: it displays with greater precision that which we desire to see through it; the window permits concentration, but it also establishes a limit between the place where I am standing, and that which is found beyond, therefore conveying some kind of nostalgia--an unfulfilled wish or an unsatisfied desire. Since Alberti, the window is the pictorial ideal; the surgical cut practiced on the visual pyramid permitting scrutiny, not only through vision, but more important still, the scrutiny of nature shown to us through this window. But it happens that on certain occasions that window is covered by crystal, and then what appeared to be diaphanous turns into a game of reflections where all that lies beyond the window is confused with what lies on this other side. Thus, virtual images are seen which do not belong to any one of the parts, but are exclusive of the reflection; or better said, they are exclusive of the interaction among the crystal, the exterior, and the interior. As we may well understand, this peculiarity also points, once more, to the nature of the dialogue, of the colloquy, of communication.

But if on the canvases this alternation of the voices which intervene in Gartz’s work seem to be clear, direct and explicit, on the papers of this series it is ambiguous, confusing, and more than once, obscure.  What gives the appearance of being a collage  actually involves an electronic print; what could be a photographic reproduction is a direct drawing on paper, a texture or even a color are modified, altered, by this new way of approaching the graphic work which here, in these works, Gartz has applied herself to the exercise; to the latter, we would have to add the written notes which appear here and there, without order or direction;  notes which hide the original sense of each piece.

 

Communication. f The action and effect of communicating something, or with someone. *The way two or more persons treat each other. *Transit or contact established between certain things.

I do not know if Elizabeth Gartz has put forth this exhibition as a kind of homage to communication, or just as an example of the role it plays in her work.  Anyway, after what we have been speculating here about the works she presents at Arte, A.C., it seems to me that the conclusion could very well be this:  Since the most remote origins of her work we find this endless dialogue between her senses and the environment, the context of her everyday happenings.  From that starting point, she summons materials, instruments, colors, body, media, sensations and memories to participate in a colloquy which should result in one or many works.  With these, she seeks nothing more than to communicate that small portion of universe it was up to her to portray.  In order to comply with the sine qua non condition of communication, the rest is up to us. 

Xavier Moyssén L.
Universidad de Monterrey.
April 2003