The power of light


Ismael Lagares seems to have set himself from the beginning a single goal as a painter: more than painting, to bring to the world painting in its fullness, to materialize it in pure and absolute presence. It is not a new purpose, of course. Those who have embarked on this path of purity against the grain of almost all our pictorial tradition generally share the same desire. Their purpose is reduced, in the last instance, to clear all mediation of meanings, representations, intentions, concepts or contexts that may interpose themselves in the direct contact between what is painted as a body of plastic, purely physical and sensorial qualities, and the sensibility of the person who is exposed to it, without anything to hinder or interfere with it. It is an Adamic (or Edenic) aspiration that has used two opposing strategies; one of them seeks to reduce painting to its essence of light and color, stripping it of its material component and of added meanings as far as possible; the other, in the opposite direction, exacerbates what painting has as a material object that is in itself a sovereign and self-sufficient support and vehicle of those same qualities of light and color.

The two series presented in this new individual with Aurora Vigil-Escalera are a new step in that continuous and coherent evolution, from very different purposes, supported respectively by the predominance of white or color. In the first of them, surely the most refined of its author in strictly formal terms, Lagares opens new expressive territories from the balance between his monochromatic series and the vehemence of color this time dispersed in small blooms of pure pigments or in spots and flat strokes and gives all the prominence to the ceramic pieces, integrated with the whiteness of the background: a kind of great visual respite that clears and oxygenates the gaze and remanifests the forms without renouncing at all to the usual effects of materiality, movement and physical presence that define his language. Loyal also for his love of what is made with his own hands, of craftsmanship, Lagares does not shy away from integrating the ornamental through gold and silver decorations in his enameled ceramics, also present in sculptures of strong nouveau and sumptuary evocation. The result is very much like a still life, except that, far from invoking the melancholy of the still life, these bodies suggesting a fusion of flowers, seashells or the remains of some luxurious household goods appear as if crystallized in their movement, preserved in full life from the erosion of time.

That exercise of chromatic discipline overflows, on the contrary, in the series based on colors: a feast of harmonies and contrasts based on a background tone on which graphics and textures, clots and sinuous cords of paint and matte and fleshy ceramic corollas that radiate a lively and acid light are deployed. In this collection, Lagares seems to have given himself with a not little childish grace and greater nonchalance to the game with recognizable figures of the world beyond the painting, as in afestive explosion of creativity that makes one think of the remains of a celebration or the gardens that a child would conceive and model, but that comes, as always in this painter, from the technical mastery and the firmness in his usual struggle: to allow the viewer to surrender, literally, to a melee with the painting.