In 1944, when Clarice Lispector was just 23 years old, she published one of the fundamental works of modern Literature, Near to the Wild Heart, a
novel written as an autobiography, without being so, which was also a pondering on whether the word is sufficient to human communication.
Forty-four years later, in Nicaragua, Gioconda Belli published The inhabited Woman, a complex novel which tells the story of a woman who becomes
a guerrilla fighter while she actually tries to find herself.
It is no coincidence that Latin American Literature and the voices of its women writers have been the ones to leave a considerable amount of
commitment, struggle and poetics like few others in recent years.
The possibility of rebelling against oppression and the use of artistic creation as narrative thread go hand in hand there, on the Continent.
The situation is similar in case of Visual Arts. The works shown by Gabriela Bettini at Galería silvestre have both, pondering and poetics, being the
latter built from the visual.
Pictorial technique, so full of meaning and loaded by the weight of its historical trajectory, is not developed disconnected from each given time’s
dominant thinking and it reflects the ways of seeing at any given moment.
When talking about landscape painting, particularly about traveller painters in Latin America, the academician Estrella de Diego points out that
“they painted what they thought they were seeing”. These works build rather than reflect; these landscapes are versions of the American landscape
brought there from Europe by these artists who had a look sieved by the stereotype of this wild vast and still undiscovered Continent. This romantic
idea of the American Landscape was conceived of as a conquest not only through the strength but also through the representation. A collective imaginary
of what they thought America was according to their occidental eyes which were not interested in the particularities of each context.
But what about today? Has this hegemonistic vision been overcome? Gabriela Bettini brings to the present these ideas and she shows both views about
pictorial representation: what is seen and how it is represented. Furthermore, she also goes a step further and she adds something more in what appears
to be landscape paintings inspired by the paintings created by the travellers in the XVIIth century, such as Frans Post.
If Lispector wondered about the word’s capacity to express, Bettini turns that question to the visual field, and she shows at the gallery a series
of landscapes where attacks on natural resources or feminicides against environmentalists, such as Berta Cáceres, took place. Those murders are such
a bloodletting that the feminist anthropologist Marcela Lagarde considers that they should be a specific typology within the feminicides. The mass
murder of those women who don’t stay silent facing the oppressor.
This visual dislocation, which in Bettini’s paintings forces us to take a second look, situates us, as spectators, in an awkward place. Far beyond
the mere landscape conceived to be seen, the second critical reading in which the artist focus our attention makes us reconsider our position. The
landscape is not just a stimulating place for the aesthetic enjoyment, it can also be a place of cruelty.
This exercise of creating a second reading where the landscape acts as a witness of dreadful events is a reverse reading in regard to the reading
that those XVIIth century painters did. This European biased way of looking was reproduced in their works and now it has turned into a second
critical eye which is necessary to understand the (social) landscape of the Continent. The severity of showing it like a reflection and metaphor
of the massive crimes in Latin America, reminds the work of the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles who, in 2013, depicted the trees that had witnessed
the violence in Mexican streets.
Nevertheless, in these works created by Bettini, initially, nothing obstructs the aesthetic contemplation of the landscape itself which appears
showing its pictorial potential and the artist’s mastery on painting technique as well. The second reading that Bettini invites us to read later
is also a feature that introduces her as a politically committed artist who doesn’t renounce the possibilities of the painting itself, but
continuing in her desire to condemn and take a stance.
Gabriela Bettini's website
Here you can download the information about Gabriela Bettini's exhibition