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By Miguel Ángel Muñoz

“I had too clearly proved the impossibility of expecting from reality that which was within myself.”
Marcel Proust, Time Regained

Few elements are able to present such clarity and variety of stimuli for the visual imagination and poetic like subtle, delicate semi-figurative art that is full of poetry. Its metamorphosis of colour, line and the stability of form, that is a source of renovation, constitute a maximum challenge for any artist. This mindful exercise is what John Berger plays: “Sometimes you distractedly close your eyes. The image, created by leaf-like superstructures, remains printed on your retina for a moment before disappearing. but now it is of an intense red, the colour of a very dark rhododendron…”. One of the leading mandates of the C20th declared by Paul Klee, declared: “do not reproduce nature, do as she does, discover it little by little”. But, what is a landscape? What is figurative art? Everything and nothing. It just lets itself be. If it moves it is to find a balance that other forces work at breaking in them, it comes and goes, it shakes itself up, it can even show its rage, this movement transforms everything about it, anything can happen. All these ideas rush to the fore upon seeing the retrospective of Luis Moro’s pictorial work. The keys to his work are visual, but there is one idea that becomes clearer over time: the progressive formal simplicity, the growing economy of elements within his painting that go on inextricably united. On towards a greater visual richness, offering a suggestive capacity that grows continually, like a restless force that glides in a multitude of gestures, of vicissitudes. He has evolved from radical beginnings, but he is a key case of his generation; one that promotes painting that presents a coherent integration of elements. It is difficult to find an extra-pictorial slip in his work in the sense of mixing figurative and landscape elements. From the strong romantic resonances that populate his work from the nineties, emerges, from an accumulated visual memory whose density and simplicity doesn’t impede going on slowly recognising with exact precision every one of the layers on which his work rests.

Following the latest lines and tracks of Mark Rothko, Antoni Tàpies, Albert Ràfols-Casamada, Terry Winter, Philip Guston, Miquel Barceló but also the dense and poetic atmospheres of Turner, without forgetting the wonderful British landscape artists of the C18th and early C19th, the Spanish painter Luis Moro continues polishing his fascinating aesthetic world, that he fittingly titled Elemental Paradises: bees, flies, butterflies, whose poetry is a reflection of rich internal tensions, where sensual refinements and mystic hallucinations roam. It is never too long before an organising spirit shows up and, perhaps most importantly, a sobriety to which he will always remain loyal, even in the most sensitive moments of FACTURA. Moro has insisted on that absorbent and fleeting form of light where all the colours run, but at the limit of his visibility, because the horizon is flattened between mists and becomes a backdrop mottled with indiscernible runaway sparkles whose lines guide the artist’s hand to create and recreate those fleeting atmospheres that give a very personal touch to his painting.

I know that I am alive and I grow on earth.
Not because I have more power,
nor do I know more, nor do I have more to do.
As a lip begs for another lip,
as a small and white flame
of silence,
like a dark breath at the first twilight,
I know that I am alive, alive…

As the Portugues poet, Eugénio de Andrade, says in his poem On Earth, “I am alive and I grow on earth”, Moro has also found himself on earth, in nature and the sea, that tradition, realism and creative freedom necessary to shape exquisite work. By tradition, I mean the formal and chromatic order, a balance organisation of the visual space. Realism comes from being everything except an objective: it is a secure and emotive invocation of nature and a perhaps unearthly challenge to the potentiality of his formal transfiguration. Creative freedom means simply conscious of limit, a serene acceptation that some pressures of the trade that have oriented the aesthetic sensibility throughout history: a world of painting. “To observe, not as an intellectual pursuit, but as a sensitive function”, the Catalan painter Râfols-Casamada used to say. “Our visual sensitivity is open to the world. To capture the ensemble of our field of vision, capture the details that it is made up of. To not underestimate anything, situate every element in relation to the others. Without thinking, just looking.” A worthy challenge, Moro has been getting to grips with it little by little, with his series Papaloapan y Metamorfosis.

For our artist, with the entire armoury at his disposal, painting is not just communication. It is also action; it is a selective intervention, executed through forms, in an expressive chaos; a new quality that is only reached in the actual moment of production. “Painting is action,” the artist has confessed. “I understand art as a creative exercise…” Moro invents new forms in his paintings, from whose association he defines the form that constitutes his definitive graphic insignia. “In the eyes of an artist, space is real, a subjective notion, without any obligatory nexus with geometry or topology. It is deduced from the intuition and perception of the artist himself.”, I believe that Moro does not only deduce in moments of intuition, but he makes it an accomplice to his pictorial discourse, as it is through that that he arrives directly to his themes, his obsessions: the glittering wanderings of indiscernible lights, diverse mountainous accidents, shaken figures, they lead me to think about how sublime his painting, his drawing, and his graphic art can be. Form, in a word, as achievement of hard and conscientious work on a reduced rage of cardinal elements that qualify the finished work: colour, texture and line. Colour imposes a visual rhythm that, in contrast, dominates everything. The texture makes the surface expressive, even objective, to sight or touch. The line marks the work: it imposes the artist’s fingerprint on the theoretical concept, it shows, with an unwilling intensity, the emotional state of the man undertaking the act of creation. The white, black, blue and ochre of imaginary beings with their blinding contrasts. But there are others, with oceanic stirring of greys, also leads us to discover the deaf twinkles and the thousand shades that converted his aesthetic vision in a bottomless well of colour. A cold journey of subtle beauty that spies on us everyday. Colours converted in to painted materials. Pure poetry.

But going over and over again the same pictorial spell – animals, fish, imaginary creatures – is never done in vain. In this sense, the intense fixation with which the artist has looked at this blinking space, animated by shiny blurs. The intensity of his visual struggle to combine the strange “chromatic flexings” as Antonio Tápies used to say. The magic is revealed in the visual swarms, luminous atmospheres, that inhabit the flat surfaces of all his canvases when the lights, tones and lines are extinguished.

Luis Moro’s palette proposes an art that energetically controls randomness. Creating a new work constitutes a risk: a new problem beginning from the laws of some signs in which gestural tension, technical urgency, and the durability of the pictorial material converge. All of this determines the drama encapsulated in the work. The creative operation is located at the crossroads between the spontaneous and rational control and is resolved in a sudden and, in Moro’s most recent work, dazzling display of immediate visual sensations. Going back to Eugénio de Andrade:

… A rumour grows slowly,
oh, slowly,
it does not cease to grow,
a rumour of eyelids
o petals …

That silence that continually grows, immobile like fish, octopuses, bees and butterflies that have been appearing constantly in Moro’s work, on both canvas and paper, for decades. The speculative game of his painting: a mirror of a thousand reflections of a never-ending reality. The enrichment and the symbolic complexity in Moro’s recent work are surprising to me. The greys, the siennas, the darkest gradation of tones induce us to think about the artist’s severe reflection on the deepest roots of his art and the conceptual problematic of semi-abstraction in contemporary art. Ochres and greys on top of limited, black constructions, remotely reminiscent of geometry, distance this new work from seemingly more serene periods. The layers of colour battle hard without searching to create complicated effects. His way of painting tends towards uniting them, seeing as they are made to invade the central part of the canvas. The space and light or the colour saturation that graduates the lighting effects of this new space – the work – become the protagonist, giving give order to constructed the plastic and visual tensions that are somehow capable of generating themselves while, on the surface, nothing is neutralised by the canvas or the paper. Based on these assumptions the visual dialogue with the spectator is established. In the opinion of Walter Benjamin, the work of art is now presented to us “as a fantastical world in miniature”, one that sustains itself, gifted with its own nature. And, why not, Moro creates a “fantastical” world with his work; un unedited, imaginary bestiary. He creates figurative traces that allow him a simple but elaborate composing order to his composition. Intentions towards a realism that is somewhat “insipid and imperceptible” that is soon covered by a surprising aesthetic discourse.

And again a new stunning constellation of forms. Balance and internal dynamism. Control and expressive purification of the matter – colour submitted to significant linear variations that break the ‘geometrization’ of the space. The pictorial and poetic spaces that are defined chromatically by radical positioning and overlapping contrasts; meager, elusive shading. Images full of symbolism.

The use of a technique that mixes graphite and oils provides Luis Moro’s images with a texture somewhere between the mineral and the organic. His figures shine with splendor but also with the sensual sumptuousness of an ash flower. This is the case in Luis Moro’s recent work, whose evolution and visual discourse is far from running out. “What they sang,” says Mark Strand,” however, is still a mystery to me…” And that is still what Luis Moro’s painting is to me: a mysterious and amazing enigma.

Via: La Jornada