En el pliegue de la visión.
Recently I alluded to the way in which Gabriela Bettini’s work establishes itself in an intermediate space located between two fictions -the historical
and the pictorial one- and a truth -that one which is accepted by the artist from her personal experience-. Rigurous, methodical, critical and commited,
Gabriela Bettini tackles topics such as the ecofeminism and the colonialism, by revealing the violence that accompanies them like an historical shadow
and leading us to look beyond what we see in each of the paintings that are formalised from the fringes or the fissures of those silences. As spectators,
we should broaden our vision of the image, just as the protagonist of Antonioni’s Blow up film does it to uncover the murder. As in the case of this film,
in the artist’s work, everything happens in the the fold of the vision and what she proposes to us is to get out of this silence for good.
Gabriela Bettini has managed to find the “appropriate words” to talk about these issues in the field of painting. This interpretative practice is key for
the creation of new narratives which don’t seem recent but hitherto unheard-of, since they have been permanently omitted or even repressed in a mostly
conscious way, but also in an unconscious way, in a kind of disciplinary inertia of the patriarchal system.
Gabriela Bettini is aware that the emptiness and the silence are never a neutral space, nor are they neutral in a History of Art and Life that, in just
the last few years, has become aware of the need to reconstitute and reconstruct itself, by adopting less questionable structures and other possible
sequences that are less chronological and more capable of valuing interstitital or intermediate spaces – if we follow Rànciere’s thought -, which through
their digressions and curves, they get us closer to the oral narrative, as a complex alternative which dares to deviate from the established canon.
In this respect, Gabriela Bettini has worked on the idea of Nature as a colonised landscape for several years and she does it pictorially by reviewing
different historical models of representation of Nature and also evincing how, at this stage, woman falls within the paradigm of violence. This way, on
the basis of a non-linear narrative emerged from her personal research, in her previous pictorial series she critically investigated the images created by
the baroque artist Frans Post, while gathering images of current landscapes where feminicides had been committed. In that way, she gave visibility and
recognition to women who defended the environmental cause.
The exhibition Primavera silenciosa is another example of this. One of its starting points is the homonymous book published by Rachel Carson in the early
1960's. A pioneering publication on the environmental impact where she blames the Chemical Industry for the current environmental pollution and in which
she warns against the harmful use of pesticides. Curiously enough, Carson was unjustly accused of lacking in scientific rigour, but it has been proved not to
be the case. The other main line of the project is a series of engravings created by Maria Sibylla Merian that were published in The Metamorphosis of the
insects of Surinam, at the beginning of the XVIII Century. With them, she revolutionized the Western way of understanding the South American landscape, by
proving the close relationship between the species and ecosystems where they live. This premise is essential for understanding Gabriela Bettini's Art Work,
which constantly reminds us that the Nature isn't natural. On the one hand, because Nature is a cultural construction of images, a memory. This cultural
existence, this construct, enables us to look beyond where we see. The place presents itself as a testimony. Nature is not just what is seen, but also what
is imposed, what is silenced, what is disciplined, or what is destroyed. And that’s how her paintings are. In them, two types of images are mixed together,
in her own words, “those that are allusive to the Nature as a space of interdependence between the species and those that are representative of what Vandana
Shiva has called “the Monocultures of the Mind”, which homogenize, standardize and commercialize all kinds of life”.
Thus, Gabriela Bettini’s work is embedded in this contemporary and manifest desire to create new spaces of research that will enable us to understand our
World from the Old World. As noted by the writer Gertrude Stein, “the problem in narrative is time; in order to tell someone’s story you have to relinquish
the time so that the time to write doesn’t exist. There should not be a sense of time, but an existence suspended in time.” And for this purpose, there are
very few mediums like Painting, which is able to delay the perception of the image, intensifying the reception. Memory turns into shade to define new questions,
new territories. In this case, based on the conviction that it does exist a seminal coloniality in Latin America. Because Gabriela Bettini sheds light on
things, but in order to understand her exegesis, it’s necessary to let yourself be carried away by the conditions imposed by her gaze. Painting is thought and,
in many cases, it’s not a question of generating new images but restoring their sense. Probably, the key is comprehending her works more as a journey than as a
landscape. The key is knowing how to go beyond the fissures and understanding that, in this archive created through a personal research, different ways of
depicting and linking images are intermingled.
On this matter, the choice of a medium like Painting, whose hegemony has exercised a sort of a dictatorship in the History of Art, is not coincidental. Not a
few have made use of this same medium so as to establish a critical stance by understanding its plasticity and capacities as a metaphorical way of “differ”,
word that, in its original Latin meaning is equivalent to lead in different directions. Possibly the clarity and exquisiteness of Gabriela Bettini’s paintings
conduct us to believe otherwise, but I personally understand that this way of working on the memory and the place is not far away from the journey towards
the blurriness taken by artists such as Luc Tuymans or Gerhard Richter, who also resort to the archive as a key element of their artistic research. The latter
is a pioneer in removing or smudging the superfluous details and transforming vegetal foliage motifs into gestural abstract paintings. That blurred vague
framing, in Gabriela Bettini’s works, lies in the ability to include images belonging to different times in her paintings. It is there where that imbalance
finds its meaning as a transition or displacement and offers a rich dual spatial and temporary perspective. That way, Merien’s images are covered by chromatic
squares that, in turn, correspond to the size of her monoculture paintings. A painting inside the painting. A connection which, in some cases, is maximised
by introducing a monochrome painting that evinces even more the deconstruction of the image.
An emptiness full of abstract density or the external intensity of the chromatic transparencies that emphasise even yet the concealment and visibility games
between what is physical and what is perceptive. The energy derives from the collision and also from our knowledge. The painting and its relationship to the
landscape or the vegetation thereby become an effective and conceptualized metaphor for the contemporary violence. From a deafening silence.
Here you can download the information about Catarina Botelho's exhibition