Magenta magazine, N° 189, Julio 2011

Isabel de Laborde

The exhibition by Isabel De Laborde at the Centro Cultural Recoleta, produces an impact, no doubt. And for more tan one reason. Spectacular, golden, are the Willow trunks at the entrance, anticipating that we are about to witness something different.  Only the inks, the drawings on paper- some of them are excellent – answer to a known technique. What the artist produces for us to see, seem, specially in some cases, sculptures, but not altogether. Perhaps object trouvè, but no, surely not. To start off with, it is wood, with traces denouncing the transformations suffered. Suffered? Interventions, rather, the hand introducing a respect for what there is. The dear remains now turned into a symbolic object retaining its original substance as a tree, still living with the new existence granted by art, and at the same time, keeping its true being.

And these mechanisms are precisely the ones leading to certain impediments to identify these objects with an established school. The artist generally uses a material to express what he or she feels, thinks, and imagines, that is, he or she engages a signifier in order to make it “speak”, as it were.  What Isabel does is something very special: she searches and elaborates what she wants to keep and will carry her mark. It is not fully a productive operation through which the aesthetic purpose, conscious or subconscious, takes shape. Here, the shape is already in a chosen or encountered material, and what she does is to accompany and caress it, creating a surprising display.

Astonishing objects may be seen. The original presence is still valid and stands out, but as a result of a combined action in which she advances, but not too much, in order to grant, in a balanced proportion, a space to what already is there. She makes it beautiful, she transforms it, but to a point, harboring its vegetal nature. This is notably so, specially in certain works. In others, we find a prevailing aesthetic action as a personal objective.  There are objects that are almost totemic, but never totally so, due to the aforementioned combination. The whole prevails. It is wood, linking life and death, it retains and treasures what is substantial of a Patagonian landscape that this Mexican-French artist elaborates on through hand craft and at the same time, high technology. A mixed object? An insufficient description. Isabel provides and contributes her own elements joining them with those of others, the internal and external, her feelings and the object of her feelings embedded in that warm wood. There seem to be two instances. There are more. Let us remember that Heidegger, rounded off his thoughts defining what is a “Thing” – das Ding - : Reunion. Reunion of heaven and earth, the immortals and the humans. This is what I believe Isabel does upon joining through this umbilical cord of sorts, what is important to her, and what she loves. She followed this umbilical cord with two more projects, together with her husband, planting trees as a homage to her parents. These plantations will be donated to . . .? . Thus, she joins the past with the future within the present of her current works, in wood: Affections and feelings, in a truly original proposal. Congratulations!           

Rosa María Ravera
Filosopher, Semiologist, President of the Asociación Argentina de Estética