My Sense of Beauty

My Sense of Beauty

"That I exist is a perpetual surprise which is life." R. Tagore

"Si de noche lloras por el sol, no verás la estrellas"* , 1990. ("If At Night You Cry For the Sun, You Also Miss the Stars")  *Title from Verse 6 of the poem "Stray Birds" by Rabindranath Tagore.

"Si de noche lloras por el sol, no verás la estrellas"*, 1990.
("If At Night You Cry For the Sun, You Also Miss the Stars") 
*Title from Verse 6 of the poem "Stray Birds" by Rabindranath Tagore.

Many times I have asked myself, Why do I paint? The answer is simple: my intention is to materialize the perception of another reality. Artists have personal ideals of beauty. As George Santayana states in his treatise The Sense of Beauty (1896): "Beauty is pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing…it is pleasure objectified."

As in the art of the fugue —a combination of different instruments each with its own voice— my aim is to create a combination of color and shapes each with unique characteristics that, while maintaining their independence, blend in harmony to suggest a landscape.

The etching press became my main instrument of work in 1976 while living in Anchorage, where I studied printmaking at the Visual Art Center of Alaska. It is interesting to realize that printmaking, an activity regarded as a minor art because it was an art of reproduction, became for some artists a marvelous medium of self expression. I was lucky enough to meet and study with some of the most relevant artist/printmakers of the 1970´s, like Jules Heller and Misch Kohn. Printmaking renders qualities that are unique to this medium.

Japanese paper, with its strong and flexible fibers, is my favorite support. Its fragility is only in appearance —it faithfully records and resists multiple successive interventions. I believe that the process by which color is applied to paper produces subtle differences in the way the color behaves. A red vermillion hue applied to the surface of a watercolor paper —where it float— and the same pigment mixed in a thick medium and applied to a linen support provide two very different expressions. Since the etching press imprints the texture of the plate, you can feel its quality transferred onto the paper by ink, thereby modifying the personality of the color. In black aquatint, for example, you can feel the velvet black. When paper is set on a dye, or inks are applied to porous papers, the fluid impregnates all the fibers and the hue registers a high intensity but the paper remains very present, it passes through the color once it has dried.

Recently, I have become interested in the possibilities offered by digital media, not as a photographer but as a digital printmaker. I used to think that painting required physical movement, that it was a kinesthetic exercise, and that the rhythm with which I applied the paint had an important role in my art. But with digital works, I am surprised to see that a purely conceptual involvement is equally powerful.

Regardless of the support or media, I initially like to work freely without constraint; in a second stage comes analysis, and in the final stage it becomes important to gain control of the whole, seeking unity without loosing the freedom and spontaneity of the initial "impromptu".

My art object is the expression of the on-going surprise that life is for me, and it represents my aesthetic awareness —or my pleasure objectified by my sense of beauty.

Yolanda del Riego
May 2009