Memory fields, time fields, force fields, magnetic fields… even synthetic fields… even Castilian fields, as a tribute to the big poet of the simple yet deep word. Those were the potential titles that I had in mind for this text before I started writing it. Unlike in other occasions, I got obsessed over the word field and was determined to find a suitable complement for it. Without knowing exactly why, I felt that field had to be the starting point of the title of this string of reflections.
A few weeks ago, Manuel Blázquez proposed that I write a few lines about his work and I did not hesitate to accept. I find his craft to be particularly fascinating - the blunt and complex simplicity of his pieces is an irresistibly tempting invitation to follow the shadows that, much like infinite stairs, sink in the abyssal depths of time turned into space.
Space (fields) and time (memory) are the two essential parameters of our existence. Moreover, space and time make possible the classical categorization of arts: space arts and time arts. I am not good at remembering dates, but I do always remember what I saw (I know where I saw it, but I don’t know when). M. Blázquez’s artwork is hard to forget, but very easy to identify and appreciate. His cut and stacked up piles of paper are three-dimensional objects, but they are also spaces rooted in time. It is not possible to leave the concept of time behind; a time that ticks away slowly during the building of these solid spaces, where winds and watches flow intertwined.
To name something is to infuse it with life (literally so in the case of these very lines), but to name that what already exists is a way of making it yours, of getting to know it, of loving it. Leonardo Da Vinci said that “Great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it but little you will be able to love it only a little or not at all”. Works of art must be found, then rationally acknowledged and enjoyed through direct contact and observation. Above all, however, they must be able to awaken our emotions. That emotional power, the energy in motion held by pieces of artwork, can be achieved in different ways. Blázquez plays with light and shadows, superimposed, accurately pierced white sheets of paper, and austerity as sine qua non conditions to turn small objects into extended fields that make us feel like tiny spectators. As we run our eyes over the limited immensity of these dinA4 and dinA3 and our gaze penetrates the imposing staircases, which jump into the present moment and take us either to the past or the future -I am not sure as to where-, our thoughts fly much like the wind caresses the vast and immaculate land of the eternal paper. Sing without a voice, fly without wings, bite without teeth, speak without a mouth (1). Like the wind, these wordless lines tell futuristic or atavistic stories. Like the wind, these sequenced cracks give wings to our imagination and bite our heart. Like the wind, the deafening silence of these surfaces reaches deep within our souls. The wind, turned into time, invites us to contemplate quietly, eyes closed, the whisper of our own memories.
Beyond their exact size, always laughed at by a stubborn and limited reality (210x297mm, 297x420mm), these pieces of art are not mere scaled objects that represent reality. On the contrary, they carry a heavy poetic component, a special kind of depth and a strong ability to evoke memories. Each millimeter brings to mind large areas (like oriental tea fields or rice fields). On the other hand, each microscopic hole sinks its roots in a time brought to a standstill, slowed down, with a ritual and rhythmic, ceremonial and transcendent sequence.
When I think about these pieces and feel them, sometimes I see them as colossal fields, lunar rather than terrestrial, a dream rather than reality. Other times, they become Borgian structures with solemn staircases, which either fade away in the past or throw us into dimensions yet to be discovered.
Frozen white seabeds. Blackness carved into rocky depths. Endless, cloudy horizons between heaven and Earth, the past and the future… Between space and time. Even though it sounds paradoxical, I feel like a miniature Gulliver, an accidental inhabitant of a paper island which stands firmly anchored between two waters – the deep, south waters of imagination, and the lost north seas of memory.
I invite you to enjoy the eloquent and silent beauty of these almost naked works of art by quoting the well-known verses of Antonio Machado. Hit by hit, cut by cut, line by line, verse by verse.
Juan Bta. Peiró
1. Tolkien, J.R.R. Lord of the Rings