Prologue for the Exhibition at Galería Sara García Uriburu, 1991, Mercedes Casanegra

Prologue for the Exhibition at Galería Sara García Uriburu

Prologue by Mercedes Casanegra for the Exhibition at the Sara García Uriburu Gallery. 1991.

 To countenance Isabel de Laborde’s paintings is to introduce ourselves in her unique and individual world, but it is also to observe after actual facts in the current situation of Latin American art, vis a vis western centers which show  a greater activity. End of the millennium and signs of exhaustion. We see it is a moment in which there is a shift in our gaze. Our latitudes promise hidden situations still unseen by many. But, before looking at the images created by Isabel, let us explore the place, both poetic and geographic, from which she creates them.    

She has inhabited different worlds: Mexico city, her birth place and childhood grounds; Paris, where she studied art; Buenos Aires, the place she chose to live. But her imaginary conscience, her true being, she herself, upon choosing her own place of belonging, reveals the land where she was born and was promised an existence: America, both at her native México, as well as at some other place in Latin America with diverse roots.

We may then, establish an analogy between the development of that imaginary conscience and her native Mexico or her Argentina by adoption. Both are countries coming forward, that are still growing. Octavio Paz, upon starting The Laberinth of Solitude, speaks of the nations in growth, and of the awakening of an awareness in themselves. These people, says Octavio Paz, “they turn inwards and question themselves”

It is natural that these interrogations should be, in the first place, about their own origin, about their own identity. These images are nothing else but part of a reflexive process, both personal and general. We are before a type of cosmogony. Its motive is chiefly an unformed material and made evident by a style of painting with double aspirations: so much a dematerialization by parts, as a primitive treatment, through notable brush strokes.   

Starting from a White still identifying a nothingness, some hues appear, some of them in their whole vitality. They are pigments resembling minerals extracted from the earth. The tones are varied, though not yet settled as stable solids. But there are two elements that start being envisaged, and which are the ones chosen as fundamentals to this place: stairs, or fragments of archeological pyramids which the artist herself defines as “ a good landscape from one world to the other.” And then, the stones.  It is no random fact that Isabel has seen them during many years lying in the Patagonian landscape. It is no coincidence either that her native country has an abundance of stone monuments.  Stones are now a fundamental part of her vision of the world. Furthermore, “stone is also the symbol of mother earth”(1). In her paintings, Isabel de Laborde brings together two purposes: to account for the origin of her own self being, and to express her affinity with the earth that bears her, the American one.

Finally she honors an old dictum commended to art: one which within  modernity, the surrealists took up as a goal: the coincidence between the individual awareness and the image of the world.     

 (1) Chevalier, Jean Gheerbrant, Alain, Diccionario de los símbolos, Ed. Herder, Barcelona, 1986, pág. 828. 

Mercedes Casanegra

Curator, writer, and researcher in contemporary art.

Translated by Eduard D. Adamson