Professor Achille Bonito Oliva about Angel Orensanz: The Joyous Instability of Art

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Professor Achille Bonito Oliva about Angel Orensanz: The Joyous Instability of Art,an exhibition of Angel Orensanz at Castello della Cuba, Palermo, during February and March 2007.

Instability is the true essence of contemporary art. For this reason you need to start from a level of conceptual abstraction which matter cannot provide. By projecting through shape, art experiences a condition of wholesome intangibility made of references and intervals between idealization and realization. However, Orensanz's works never reveal their beginning and end. The concept does not prevail over the object. It is the fruit of a web which weaves together the memory of culture and the memory of nature. The former consists in the awareness of art's metalinguistic identity and the latter in the ineluctable manual ability which sets the body in motion and results in unpredictable and glaring outcomes.

Shape becomes the place of the ultimate evidence. The observer's eyes stop and can realize whether the artist has succeeded in passing the great test: the test of beauty. The modern beauty of Orensanz's works lies in the highlighting of the concept of constant nostalgia present in shapes which are never superbly definitive and flamboyant. Nostalgia is the result of a truly modern awareness of the impossibility of the closed shape reflecting an eternal order. Life is lived out at a level of structural discontinuity which enhances man in the form of an inevitable uncertainty. This nostalgia is the sign of a duality in Orensanz's works. On the one hand, the unceasing yearning for perfection. An almost teleological motion towards an impossible end. On the other, there is the lay exaltation of the outcome. This duality constitutes the maze-like itinerary of the creative work of this great Spanish/American artist, who finds in dizzying and unceasing quests the erotic emphasis of the work of art, be it figurative or abstract, melded or drawn, pictorial or sculptural. To achieve this unceasing motion, a historically superficialist vision of art is needed.

The surface is the field across which the world of ideas is projected. It is the giant screen on which the traces of a genuinely imperfect creation are executed in the image and resemblance of another higher creation, which, in turn, is used as the yardstick for this unceasing cross-examination. The painting's surface becomes a transparent glass wall on which the signs of a vital yet meditative industriousness are traced out. This industriousness aims at creating the microcosms of an infinite iconography which can never be fully exposed. This is the essence of Orensanz's topicality: with his vibrant clarity he anticipated various forms of awareness among which also those of the Transavanguardia with regard to art's interior nature. He looked with suspicion on the certainty of the frame as an insuperable fence of language behind which the creative process takes place with its movements of formal adjustment. It is no coincidence that there is no depth in Orensanz's works. This dynamism is made possible by the fluidity of the surfaces made of a lucid bidimensionality across which signs and colors flow without ever building up or creating depths which can serve as a refuge and shelter. The surface is the beginning and the end and then, once again, a new beginning.

The maze-like structure of Orensanz iconography is clearly visible in the mesh entwining the abstract and figurative style. Lines never wither to take on the definitive shape of geometry and, at the same time, gestures never settle with being a mere hedonistic assertion of the sign.

The artist always seeks and finds a moment of dynamic rest, made of relations and fixed points, like in an organic field for the image.

The prevailing idea is that of the field, a concept of space which is never static but always relational, a constellation of vanishing spots in a system dominated by a sense of concentration and levity. All this is contained in yet another idea: the frame. It closes art within the walls of the memory of the past and the focus on the present. The frame becomes a means for animating language, a glass showcase that reveals the internal dynamism and the outcome of the language which has come to a formal stop. This way the work of art becomes the frame within which representation takes place, where unexpected linguistic interferences occur. These are unpredictable compared to the codes as they are organized by present-day communication and expected or rather induced by the artist's creativity. This is Orensanz double play.

The Joyous Instability of Art is an exhibition of Angel Orensanz at Castello della Cuba, Palermo, during February and March 2007. A fully illustrated catalogue available at Fondazione Palazzo Intelligente, Palermo (Italy,) and at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, New York.


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