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A-Conceptual minimalism in the painting of Carlota Jardí
Arnau Puig

B-Comments on the Paintings of Carlota Jardí
Lóránd Heygi


A-Conceptual minimalism in the painting of Carlota Jardí
Arnau Puig

One can understand why artists fed up with figurative realism would flee from a satiated plethora of narratives and their vulgarising manifestations to move towards geometrical abstract painting. Even once they were installed in the world of rigorous geometry, they would only be interested in colour and the rules of optical principles that could achieve unusual aesthetic effects with respect to the most commonly available perceptions. Everything that I have just mentioned can be backed up with names: Mondrian, for instance, striving to represent spiritual values; Marcel Herbin, another artist who wanted to escape from the significant symbolism of colour, retaining only composition and the chromatic impact; and Josef Albers, yet another who was attracted by research into colour as related to geometrical shapes.
At the beginning of the 21st century it has been more difficult to devote oneself to painting for the simple pleasure of using a paintbrush. This pleasure is always present, since using colour is one of the most intense pleasures that painters can relish, although, at the same time, arranging colours on a surface gradually reveals an autonomous space with autonomous values that did not exist before. Furthermore, these colours do not refer to, or follow, any other reference but the desire of creators to keep on discovering what the space before them may hold, until they decide, when they feel satisfied, that the search is over. In the milieu in which we are ensconced there is always the reality of an artist, someone who impels a work, which was neither known nor accepted before, into existence. But from the moment it exists, it is actively inevitable. The pleasure and satisfaction that the artist felt are evident on the canvas.
Standing in front of a painting, one could find oneself in that philosophical and moral attitude called solipsism: to live on earth is to be, like the earth itself, totally alone, having no other consciousness than our own to contemplate the undeniable beauty that exists. The pleasure of contemplation is something that cannot be shared with anyone, which means that the feeling of satisfaction turns into a negative feeling: useless, even exasperating. The more we think about it, the more negative everything becomes, even though during the act of contemplation the feeling of delight is at its utmost. All of this leads me to recall the so-called negative theologies, those that believe – through their structure, which encompasses order, will power, the magnificence and splendour that the earth offers -- in the undeniable existence of an organiser and arranger of it all. However, it is obvious that this creator does not exist, because the universe is indifferent to that which makes us feel enchanted and delighted. There is only presence, not reality. It seems to me that the act of being transported through the contemplation of art must be like that of the most subtle mystics who have to trust and believe in what they seek, and they strive to find their sense of philosophical non-existence in contradictory reality. I shudder to think of a Saint Theresa or a Saint John of the Cross, pure beacons of light of the existence where they trust they will find what they seek in non-existence.
Now it is time to give a name to the artist that has inspired everything written above: Carlota Jardí. Born in Barcelona in 1960, she has been dedicated to painting through instinct and personal necessity, having completed studies (de rigueur for any educated person in an active and dynamic culture) that are considered appropriate for the understanding and practice of art. Consequently, she has been specifically dedicated to another aspect that every properly established social system offers: direct and active professional training that is committed to the transmission of art and the broadening of its market, validating artistic activity as an occupation with immediacy, craftwork and formal speculation in order to find the appropriate shapes for the use and needs which established society can respond to, so as to find solutions to desires and intentions which have been created -- in other words, a school of design.
With her wealth of knowledge and experience, Carlota is deeply involved in the world of art. She possesses mental subtlety and the manual ability to execute what her spirit dictates, whether theoretical or practical. Like everyone else who has set out on a journey through the wilderness, she began by using paths already taken. She took the appropriate steps, but she also realised that it was important to go back and stamp her personal mark on places where there were countless similar marks: continuing what had already been done and doing so not because the need existed (which would have been justification) but rather because boldness was necessary for self-discovery. At the most, Expressionism would be the path to follow for a pictorial act that did not question why one should follow it.
While Carlota Jardí’s painting has been evolving over the course of time, she feels very sure that the way she paints is not a justification for her commitment to painting. When she decided to paint, it was because she wanted to feel that inner pleasure of pure delight, which comes from the act of painting and finding it reflected in the finished work, so that the joy, the picture and the painting were all the same thing. Carlota did not paint to tell stories about everyday life. Rather, she did it to seek what the painting had to tell her, just like when experiencing life, one does not question why one is alive, but finds satisfaction in being alive. This is the sensual delight that gives meaning to the joy of being alive, like when we see little children running, laughing, getting dirty (an adult’s perception), but for them it is simply enjoying the gift they have – being alive. Moreover, that is what the painter wants to feel: the joy of painting, the delight of making a rich complex world, teeming with risk, by painting: a world that reveals a space that exists precisely because it is painted space, not because it is a space that refers, by means of painting, to stories alien to painting. The luminosity of the stains, obtained by the subtle layers of pigment spread on canvas, is continually apparent while conceptual conflict, on account of the colour, keeps emerging.
Contrary to Minimalism, which advocates the absence of sensitive and sensual features (because in all painting there should not be more than what there is: painting), the Constructivist plasticity that Carlota seeks by incorporating precisely those features with pictorial subtlety, moves away from this new facet of the plastic arts where serenity is only apparent (because the passion to paint is obvious), but the impact of the monumentality that Minimalism demands is manifest.
This is the reason I have said that Carlota’s painting is not in the manner of Mondrian, nor is it a painting in the manner of Herbin. The painter whose style is nearest to hers would be Albers’. But they do not coincide either, because Albers seeks the play and combinations of colour adhering to theory, while Carlota lets the colours explain themselves; they tell their own stories with their own shades, their own derivations, contrasts and hesitations. And on top of this, the artist is in the forefront: the creator who does fully enjoys what she is doing – since she has spawned and prompted this whole adventure, like children that fully experience what and where they are. At the same time, she is aware that she is not detached from it, rather she is the creator of what she has generated. Moreover, there is something in the air, something or someone with whom to share the adventure of painting, like when a child (my apologies for repeating the simile), searches around , now and then, for a look from a mother, or from playmates, to see if their attention has been attracted (to the painting, in this case) and whether it has developed, by displaying everything of which it is capable.
Here is the painter. Here is the creator of this wonderful equilibrium of colours that interweave, making the saturation of colour dense or light, or searching for the subtleties of shades of colour. However, above all, she desires to show, solely with colours and geometric compositions, like the Constructivists, that everything can be expressed, everything can be depicted, without the need to resort to another code of communication to reveal itself, to draw attention to itself and to show its feelings. Carlota Jardí has rediscovered the fact that colour does not need lively stories or clarifying words, and she has made us aware of that. Painting has its own characteristic expressive stratagem. One only has to pay attention to what the artist has painted to realise that painting speaks (it is also a language), and by following the indications of what is expressed, one can find out what it is saying. All the dynamics, all the feelings are there – without any intermediaries.
Carlota Jardí has nullified cosmic dissatisfaction, because the world is a self-sufficient adventure, taking pleasure in itself, while conscious of wanting to be noticed. Look at her work and see if it’s true.


B-Comments on the Paintings of Carlota Jardí
Lóránd Heygi

Although at first sight the latest paintings by Carlota Jardí surprise us by their simplicity or remind us of an elemental geometric structure, simple in appearance to certain examples in the history of structural abstract art, we should revise this impression by a more attentive second look. Her paintings are only apparently simple since they are really built up by various layers that are discriminating, complex, intelligent and sagely composed, raising awareness of the “primary” and “secondary” levels of reference. They are repetitions of well-known models of preceding strategies and formal results solely in appearance, since they really operate like visually active elements and mechanisms of non-figurative structural painting, but placed in a new context. It can be said that Carlota Jardí works with the typical “deconstructive media”, although she maintains, with convincing levity, her consistency, density and the visual coherence of painting that is structured with two-dimensional colour related to a specific surface.

This is something new and astonishing in her more recent painting. We are prepared to assimilate reconstruction, to assimilate the references, to evaluate their current relevance in the new concrete structures of the paintings. And in parallel, we enjoy the “serenity” and “the obviousness” of its formal structures; we let ourselves take pleasure in these surprising, almost unnoticeable, entities, so difficult to encounter nowadays. If we become bedazzled by the beauty of colour, by the subtle but essential difference in the colour fields that emerge by means of the varied methods of applying paint and the different directions in which the paintbrush moves, we then relish the synergy of the glossy and matt surfaces, the opacity or transparency of pictorial layers, the differentiation, almost in relief, of every geometric shape.

The paintings by Jardí are silent, serene, dense, and architectural, and therefore objectified, concrete, tangible, “real”. Perhaps this objectified reality makes them noble, archaic, unruffled, timeless, and yet, enigmatic. Today’s viewers do not now believe in harmony, in coherence in the plastic visual arts, in the balance of factors, but rather they analyse the elements that make up a picture in different historical and theoretical contexts, disassociating them from their original milieu. We do not find here the critical and analytical purpose that is typical of this medium. On the contrary, Carlota Jardí aims to “rehabilitate” certain active mechanisms and original functions – to reinstate their use. This attitude gives her paintings a somewhat archaic nature, even when they are completely neutral and not in any way “historiating”. The geometric shapes known in previous periods of structural, analytical and abstract art are simply applied without any declaration of style or historicity. The shapes are neither illustrations nor fragments taken from a preceding context; they perform as if they were the symbols of a legitimate vocabulary and they grant the artist the possibility of presenting certain artistic phenomena and of observing them in the context of the painting. The different treatment for each colour field, the lightness of the transitions on the painting surface, the tonal gradations and the not totally symmetrical elemental structures that invariably have a slight disconcerting displacement, lead Jardí to obtain an overall multiple effect in which intellectual reflections and the compositions are inseparably joined to the concrete plastic/visual experience of the painting, in other words, joined to the individual pictorial phenomenon and as the object of perception.

The perception of the unique pictorial phenomenon, explicit in its objectified presence, contains references to art history, but the quiet, serene and undeclared plastic/visual phenomenon is not merely the result of an analytical process but rather an encounter of simultaneous visual stimuli that are brought together in the painting.

In this regard, the painting acts as a means of union, like a meeting point, like the terrain of a creative act that becomes apparent in the reciprocity of each one of the elements and methods that make it up.