"Encounters with the traces of an origin", 2006, Santiago Kovadloff


Prologue for the exhibition “Organic Fusions” at Galería Vasari, year 2006.

Sketches rendered on paper, or wood found along southern rivers or lakes, function on Isabel de Laborde as true incitations. It could be said she apprehends them as sparks of a presence that awakens in her desires of a dialog. Primordial matter, rather than primary, sketches or stains and wood, with their own secret vibrations and rhythms, invite the artist, at the onset of the encounter, to listen, to interrogate and allow to be queried by the magic silence of spontaneous forms. The fact is that Isabel de Laborde listens and asks with her eyes and hands. Through either way, she moves along the surface of those inciting objects that gradually lead her to intervene. So, her eyesight and tact give life to an indispensable preamble for the ulterior encounter with the creative act. The recording of traces, signals, and clues. That initial contact enables the artist to construe the movements of water and time on wood, and to capture the whispering along the partly veiled paths of sketches enticing her to progress towards the search of volumes and shapes. Later, the determining action will be the discovery of the geometric structures. Upon them, the proposals we now see will be displayed. The works of Isabel de Laborde brought together here, impose on me as singular mirrors where the roaming of the soul, its pulsing and tensions, engraving the traces of an incessant march towards some signification. The portrait of imminent forms rather than finished ones, as well as blurred and enigmatic configurations, as residues of past realities. Thus, these sketches and woods  reveal an inexhaustible fascination for what is faintly suggested; for barely audible voices of what is to come as well as what is remote. The initially intuitive path over available textures, instruct the experienced steps of Isabel de Laborde. Far from producing an inventory of exacting profiles, she will opt for the insinuated and the virtual. Relying on eloquent lines, she will speak to us of energies eternally mobilized. Whites and blacks, spaces and cavities nourish the aesthetic effect achieved through a well aimed labor of abstractions. But the traces of the origin, of this first offering that chance and nature have made, is zealously preserved both on sketches and wood. The structures holding the works on wood were built by Miguel de Laminat. We must say they have a decisive effect. They not only firmly hold the works of art, but contribute as well to their notable elegance. Their conception underlines the intention of each work and enhances the profile of the group. Lastly, I would now like to bring forward the fact that Isabel de Laborde’s interventions, resting on a long proven artistic experience, always shy away from any ostentation of the creative efforts involved. Rather, they seem to at the service of the materials in use. Thus, as sketches break pre-established perceptions in order to stimulate de decoding of a relentless dynamism, likewise, Isabel’s interventions on wood discourage perceptions looking for the haven of conventional scenarios. Summed up, it is an adventure, that of Isabel de Laborde’s, worthy of being shared.

Your canvass speak of silence. Moreover, silence speaks in them. Not the silence in which men may fall in, and which sometimes involves surrounding objects, but the silence beings and objects intimately consist of. Such, for me, is the repertoire of shapes your hands give form to: the spirit infusing movement to your images.

This silence, Isabel, signals towards the primordial mystery implied in every presence; the irruption of every presence in hearts capable of harboring it. That mystery is celebrated by your eyes; your eyes that are your hands and your colors, celebrated in the liturgy of drawings and paintings. They are noticed and taken in the calm charged with tension: in the quietness for-seeing its own turbulence. In the enigma, lastly, that rests, stalking, in the presence of the seemingly docile profile of things, nurturing them with magic, insinuations and in waiting.

I celebrate your works, I am moved. In them, I find a hope of transcendence, that drive to apprehend what we cannot grasp in the forms, something that distinguishes those who know  those forms are only real when they are transient. And I can no less but to identify myself with your intentions, your tensions, your failure. Yes. Your failure, Isabel. Because art is the venturesome gain of an unavoidable failure. The one of the soul determined to reach the light forever holding back its secrets, that secret which we will not nor cannot stop searching for.

Of your art, we can say it is one of contemplation. In a decidedly religious sense. And thus understood, it does not come to the viewer, but to whom has been taken by an atmosphere that seizes, exceeds, and transfigures him.

Nobody, Isabel, can ever tell us what we create. Nor nobody can deny that creation responds to, essentially, a privileged encounter of our spirit with the primordial countenance of life. Of life that is always, within the creative instant, a truth singularly conjugated: this face, this name, that man; this unusual emotion that overwhelms us and makes us fruitful. And so it is, this encounter of mine with the offering that your present works represent, the laborious fruits of your inspired hands.

Santiago Kovadloff

Essayist, poet, translator, philosopher, anthologist of Portuguese literature, member of the Spanish Royal Academy.

Translated by Eduard D. Adamson