"Letter to Isabel de Laborde", 1995, Santiago Kovadloff

Letter to Isabel de Laborde

Prologue to the exhibition “Landscapes of Silence” at the Centro Cultural Recoleta , Buenos Aires, year 1995.

I hesitated, dear Isabel, in calling landscapes to your proposals. Are they? To my thinking, they refer to the virtual prior to the evident and, actually, we often find in landscapes, conventionally speaking, a strong pre-eminence of the given over the possible, of the consummated over the virtual. This is precisely what does not occur in your works.  Therefore, I would say that in your works, insinuation is everything. Insinuation, that is, the trace or the promise of a revelation. In a single word, the infinite suggestion of an advent. Your canvasses speak of silence. Furthermore, in them, silence speaks. Not the silence that humans fall into, and that, sometimes envelops things, but the silence in which beings and things consent to. Such is, for me, the repertoire of shapes that your hands draw; the spirit infusing movement to your images. This silence, Isabel, does not point but to the primordial mystery that dwells in a presence ; the arrival of a presence into the heart capable of harboring it. That mystery is celebrated by your eyes; your eyes that are your hands and your colors. They celebrate it through the liturgy of drawing and painting. They find it and take it within the abandonment charged with tension. In the quietness that foretells its own turbulence; in the enigma, finally, that rests lurking in the apparently docile profile of things, nourishing it with magic, insinuation, and waiting. I celebrate your works. I am moved by them. Within them lies a hope of transcendence, that effort in apprehending what is not possible to grasp of the forms distinguishing those who know that they are only real when they are transient. And I cannot but identify myself with your intention, your tension, your failure. Yes, your failure, Isabel, because art is always the venturesome remains of an inescapable failure. Of the soul determined to reach a light that never relinquishes its secret, that secret towards which we cannot nor accept to not tend.  Of these woks of art of yours, we must say it is for contemplation. Giving this expression a decidedly religious sense. It is known that, thus understood, contemplation does not come to whom watches or looks, but who has been won over by an atmosphere that sweeps, exceeds, and transfigures. Nobody, Isabel, will tell us ever, what we create. And nobody will also negate that creation responds to essentials, a privileged encounter of our spirit with the primordial visage of life. Of life that is always, in the instant of creation, a truth singularly conjugated: this countenance, this name, that man, that unusual emotion dazzling and nourishing us. And that is also, most certainly, this encounter of mine with the offering of your works to me, the laborious fruit of your inspired hands.

Santiago Kovadloff

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

Translated by Eduard D. Adamson