"Essential cartography", 2000, Adriana Lauría

Isabel de Laborde: Essential cartography

Rivers and time. . .to my parents, my children, with profound gratitude. “It is not possible to go in twice into the same river”. This world, the same one for everybody, was not made by any of the gods, nor by any man, for it was, is, and always will be, a living flame, alight  according to measure, and also by it, extinguished.

Heraclitus. About nature. Efesus, Vº century B.C.

Two observations I would like to add: one, about the nature of the Aleph; another about its name. It is, as all know, the first letter of the alphabet of the sacred  tongue. Its application to the boundaries of my history does not seem accidental. For the Cabala, this letter means the En Soph, the unlimited and pure divinity.; it has also been said that it has the shape of a man pointing to the sky and the earth, to indicate that the inferior world is the mirror and the map of the superior world. . .”Jorge Luis Borges. El Aleph. Buenos Aires, 1957.

On this occasion, Isabel de Laborde applies her passionate way of doing and seeing things, to the designing of images that celebrate, in many ways, the untouched vital impulse. The forces of nature are expressed in landscapes, revisiting her loving Patagonian visions. But though the inspiring purpose are originated in those “Silent Landscapes”, those desolate lands, mountains, barren plateaus, forests and rivers, they no longer constitute a ghostly scenario prone to obscure premonitions. In its place, a torrential energy and golden clarities impregnate her paintings, stuccos, and inks.

The planimetry, as well as the homogenous support appear to be disturbed – in the same manner as the geography of southern Argentina,- upon  the many curves in the drawing of a river,  the rough textures of a volcano, or the high line of a wall. Each topography is worked upon with bright reflections of matter on a field of serene opacity. Thus, the fluency of waterways are represented by green-blue tones, applied in successive transparent layers, or by chance sprinkling o inks dispersed by strong gushes of water. Mountains, rocks, and the hillside vibrate in the drawings, the brilliant colors, or the burnishing gold, imposing themselves upon the darker tones of the dry lands in the painting, or the whiteness of papers and stuccos. Representations of what is vital is also reproduced in the constitution of other universes. Sometimes offering a micro-cosmic vision in something seemingly similar to a blood circulating system.  The red of the Bowl, that serves as a preparatory base for the golden or stucco boards, is recuperated injuring the surfaces that, as delicate skins, hardly offer any resistance to such procedures, through which the artist reveals arboreal artery systems and stigmatized “living flesh”. Rivers and veins seem to converge to enable circulation, the subsistence cycles.

Intercepting this cartography of external and internal landscapes, the world of humanly creations appear. Her science and her art emerge in transcriptions of ancient geometric diagrams, mandala like  musical scores, or in the bi frontal poem of Jorge L. Borges, obverse – reverse. In that text, those who are more accustomed to search for meanings in words  than in the image, they will find the key to the spiritual state of the artist, upon rendering these works. Laborde, with a nostalgic rejoicing, challenges the overwhelming feeling set forth by the spectacle of life. She turns it into a pictorial matter that embodies its splendors, both the one of nature offered to the viewer, as well as the one palpitating, hidden, underneath the skin.

Then, the rest will be to particularize some of the symbols: currents of water and blood, which, upon their fluency, they guarantee the sustainability of life, and testify to the changing nature of all substances. It is not difficult to associate the fabric giving impulse to those current with the feathered textures, present in the ornaments representing Quetzalcoatl. Composed of linear touches of different colors, they evoke the divinity of the ancient Mesoamerican mythology incarnating the fertility cycles of the earth. Of death and resurrection. Similarly, the structures in the form of golden branches seem to refer to the tree of life accompanying representations of the Aztec god of rain: Tlàloc.

These details reflect elements of the Mexican culture, a tradition to which, by origin, the artist cannot shirk. In the same way, she includes volcanoes and includes variations in water streams with what seem to be rivers of sulfurous lava, intersecting here the newborn geology and the tectonic processes that turn a prodigal land into the arid extensions of Patagonia. In the same way, the stucco technique, refer both to pre colonial Mexican art, as well as the colonial baroque.  Each work has an air of a stratified codex written by diverse civilizations. Like in palimpsests, in which overlapped texts from different origins and purpose, all equal in value, all equally revealing, these works of art demand an effort from the viewer in order to discover its real secret. We shall understand that the partial and fragmentary deciphering we have just now accomplished, is but again a  partial approach towards other possible mysteries, only to be purchased upon a direct and simultaneous contemplation of the marvelous, caotic and incessant diversity of our existence.

Adriana Lauría

Professor and researcher at the UBA

Member of the Argentine Association of Art Critics and of the International Association of Art Critics.

Translated by Eduard D. Adamson