By Daleysi Moya
“Stay alone”. By Daleysi Moya. Alejandro Campins 2013-2016 (Catalogue) Gli Ori, Galleria Continua 2017.
In the creative process of each artist, there is an essential moment that ends up leading his work in a unique and unobjectionable sense. That moment IS not exclusively related, as many think, to technical decisions or personal experiences. It is something bigger, a visceral question that puts in check everything done to date and questions the very object of creation. We are talking about reaching the limit after transcending the first horizons.
This point of inflection, in which the rhetorical exercises are not enough to produce a work – a sincere work, capable of shocking people due to its stark realism, of touching something, of moving something – indicates maturity of the creator. From that moment the artist knows who he is and where his work goes, even if such certainty cannot be materialized in a readable premise; even if that certainty is nothing more than a mental, corporal, sensible state. Something similar was experienced by Alejandro Campins around 2009-2010, period of rethinking his painting, time of internal and aesthetic changes.
I like to think that his work began to keep pace with the times of his own life; as if before being what it now is, it would have been sounding the real man out; or vice versa (these processes tend to move in both directions). The truth is, in any case, that there was a fundamental shift in his work, in his ways of assuming and rehearsing the pictorial language. And by late 2000, as catalysis of bewilderment, a very particular way of doing came up; one that would set him apart from the rest of the painters of his generation.
Since then, Campins not only decided to focus on the landscape, but began to return it in the rarified and timeless way in which it usually appears in dreams, or in the irrational interstices in which we fight against the dream. This endeavor reveals surprise of those who, when facing for the first time the world around them, renounce the possibility of apprehending the whole, the panoramic, and, on the contrary, dwell on the most frugal aspect of the scene. The landscape opens in the gaze of the canvas, and reinvents itself as a segment, sluice, as a minimal discovery, and precisely because of it, enormous.
Campins is disturbed because sometimes his landscapes look like other landscapes; others already known, previous ones, those of the whole life. He is annoyed because he knows that in those cases nature is not the one speaking, but him and the voice of a tradition that is difficult to shake off. Interested as he is in the answers treasured by sites, he does not get satisfied with illusionism of the real. He wants to unveil the unknown, not to build it or misrepresent it. He has been too close of what he paints, too conscious to twist in effect what is essence, core. That is why he resists, he goes to live in those places, and until painting – his painting – does not plenty inhabit them, the canvas is not finished.
There is such a strong connection between his work and the spaces he approaches, that the work transcends the narrow frame of representation: painting expands beyond itself and is contained, then, by the landscape itself. Painting becomes latency; a silence within that landscape, a silence within another silence. Therefore, when we are in front of his paintings we can not only look at them, we have – carried away by an unknown magnetization – to participate in that stillness, be quiet ourselves, as are the cities that are forgotten, the forests where nobody has ever stepped, the ruins that hold the breath in time, or quietly breathe during the wait.
Even his photography reveals an unprecedented dimension of the landscape; one that surpasses any kind of remembrance. The photograph that, by principles, is the key of all circumstantiality becomes in his hands in an improbable and calm picture of the heart of the things that stop. From Campins’ lens things seem having always been there, in the same place, before and after. And it also seems that no one has ever seen them, that remain virgins to the look that builds, that frames, that says where they should be green and gray, and how much to open the shutter of our eyes to let light pass.
His photography, like his painting, is not alone in human loneliness. It cannot be it because the man once was in it. And if he has been once, he will be there forever; in the landscape, on the canvas, on paper. Man forgets but nature does not. When they find each other, the fact becomes an irreversible event; it does not matter if, as it often happens, the man and the landscape seem to be alone.
The beauty of abandoned places catches Campins’ attention; there is a truth in them that speaks of the human being and its primary condition, about what he belongs to, about what he is. Ruin and its ability to transcend the peremptory are captivating; force him to watch the man into the eyes. Perhaps that is why he returns to certain uninhabited places, parallel spaces that mark the rictus of human life when acquiring the capacity to disengage from itself, to become stone and road and earth. This approach allows him, for the moment in which the process of execution lasts, to be man and God, to be inside and outside; to gauge ephemeral or imperishable stuffs; to stay calm and watch.
On one occasion he has said that “painting is a way to forget”. When he paints, in fact, Campins learns to forget, to miss the everyday, the reality, the painting he knows. In that moment of conscious abandonment, looking for the first time is the only guarantee of return, understand what surrounds him and understand himself, see what others have never seen to then teach the discovery, make it part of the other reality despite the misty fog of what happens. To forget is, to some extent, a gesture close to that of Caspar D. Friedrich when he closes his eyes and discovers “the true landscape”. In this deliberate oblivion lies the key to his most recent work, his photography, his timeless and human landscape. Closing his eyes and staying alone knowing that “every painting is a window into oblivion”.