Fernando de Szyszlo

Una América llamada Szyszlo

For Fernando de Szyszlo life has been to take love and painting to that secret place where rivers convey; glancing in the distance, the clear mornings filled with iridescent constellations; observing light, color and the non-color, that nurture possible drought of the creative flames, having a one-on-one inner conversation with a being who knows that art is knowledge and passion. He touches the dark of dirt, the blue from the sky, the red from fire, the green rumor from rushing waters that flow among mysterious architectures and fantastic landscapes. He uses the technique “claro-oscuro” Chiaroscuro. He says; but it is the magic of the color blend with which he creates an imaginary based on reality, where fantasy and abstract unite in pictorial representations. He is drawn towards the meddling of Surrealism in his paintings because in his codings “(…) there is another reality: reality about reality and”, so he said to Mariella Balbi, in an interview published in the Book Travesía, Peru, 2001. The Artist has saved in his memory a past that is shown in symbols of his present. Since he first started as an Artist in the mid 40’s, he has been drawn towards a symbolic approach (Naturaleza Muerta – Nature Mort – Dead Nature/ 1945), expressing himself in various levels of visual and conceptual speech based on certain cosmogony, using the subconscious to resolve symbolically a way of thinking. He uses concrete references with an iconography that overcome the limits of academic and conventional practices.

The timeless pictorial language of this Peruvian Artist,very peruvian and very universal, its meaningful by the conceptual terms he uses to construct his formal repertoire. We have here a complex abstract Artist: geometrical, organic, lyric, situated in the poetic standards with a high level of thoroughness technique. Szyszlo emphasized matter as a dynamic reference of a living culture that still lives in the archaic imaginary of Latin America: valuation and transcendence of a historical past. Without being formalist in the conventional way, his paintings are inscribed in an inventory of plastic values, that present themselves as an eloquent example of conciliation among abstract shapes, romantic light, and exultant color, even in his most deepest “chiaroscuro”, and with the conciliation, his specials formulations and strength in color unite, making his work a masterpiece. Without allowing any empty spaces, the artist sets a infinite and timeless dimension on the great plain –generally monochromatic– from the background canvas that holds the architectural framework almost Baroque, which projects out of it.

As a result of the philosophical existence in attitude and point of view of a profound intellectual and knowledgeable of the art secrets, Fernando de Szyszlo’s paintings correspond to the absolute freedom that is shown by the textural aspects of color and light in all its splendor, thae vibrant body, that without contradictions is written in the mysteries of the creation.

Color in the chiaroscuro technique

Even though he has always said he is a chiaroscuro technique Artist and that his painting is “dark”, it is in his production that the presence of color is unavoidable. A presence that succeeds both visually and spiritually, gathering a story, ancient and contemporary, from the red of the Pompeian frescos, to the cobalt blue of french Yves Klein, going through the intense Renaissance chromaticism. With a palate enriched with high temperatures of saturation and brightness, create energies that privilege emotional encounters. Eyes and brain both compel a high perceptive intensity equation. And it is precisely about the trichromatic model proposed by Thomas Young and unconscious rejection of additive and subtractive phenomenons where this “dark” aspect of Szyszlo’s painting, to which we could also add the concept of color of relatively of a Joseph Albers. Thus all, meaningful combination of color, matter, shape, and depth. Since the mid 20th century, the interest for mono-chromaticism and because of unexpected combination of shapes and shades just like the free associations that defy the academic universal rules have been stablished as a new approach to treat colors as an important formal element. It is there, where Szyszlo stands, reserving a prevailing place transforming it into absolute flutter, almost as in Op-art or of a Yves Klein. Attention is drawn when he defines his painting as a “chiaroscuro technique” so then when the heraldic red appears in his prior paintings like Ejecución de Tupac Amaru – Execution of Tupac Amaru (1965), Puka Wamani (Halcon Rojo – Red Falcon, 1966), Camino a Mendieta – Journey to Mendieta (1977), Nature Deficit, La Naturaleza nos traiciona – Nature betrays us (1972), Anabase (1982), Sol Negro – Black Sun (1992), or Camino a Mendieta y Paisaje – Journey to Mendieta and Landscape (2014), two paintings in this exhibition and other with blue background with the same title: Sol Negro – Black Sun (1992) and another one from 2015, just like in Para casi la noche – For almost the Night (2014) and Trashumante (2015), also in the exhibit. Thanks to the treatment that color gives, Szyszlo introduces the viewer towards an almost sensual experience through spacial monochromes that preserve the quality of the pigment and the metric appearance of shapes suspended over it. When light interacts with the pictoric surface, the chromatic complementarism is absolute. It is observed that the background, in general has a unique color, red, blue, green, sometimes plane, other times with shades, but always provided with temperatures that empower the strange abstract shapes on it. In each one of his paintings, an operation closest to the one taken place in the cinetic artists work is visible where they work over a base color as an energy and movement generator. Analyzing the additive synthesis, theory that supports the color from an object results from light that is absorbed and re-sent, so, the one that invades the canvas, regarding the relationship of color to color, generates effervescence sheens, or even a warm Moaré aspect, very characteristic of the Cinetism. In Szyszlo’s, obviously the movement is virtual, but gains complexity according to three directions: the light that the artist adds to the shapes, the light that comes from an outer source and the third which is the light that the color itself may generate. These three actions, together with the matter strength of the pigment –texture–transform the pictoric space into a visual poetic opera of immense intensity. We are before the Occidental, and, Latin American Artist that cares and takes his time on details, without contradictions, in the absolute organizing of polichromias and monochromias to achieve nonobjective shapes from the reality.

Color: The Pictoric & the emotional

Fernando de Szyszlo works with colored matter. Each color is a symbol of life, of existence, of art, as well as of violence despite the calm seduction which his work might suggest. He opposes the melancholic of the Andino plateau, but he saves in his shapes abstract-organic, resolved in burning plains of color-light, the symbolic power of an ancient culture that he believes, inherited in himself as an Artist and a human being. Spiritual and humanistic forces are based on the color-support and also in those traces, gestures, and waves that over the structure support a complex pictoric spacial weave. He also explores the symbology which he inherited from the formalist tradition, the warm red is equal to life and power, the cold blue to peace and calm. Red, the color of passion, is explosive, so fascinating that the spectator cannot walk by unnoticed. The extraordinary skill in the use of color in relation to the plastic strength, its symbology and remembrance of ancient cosmogonies, the mastery from where monochrome and meteoric planes, the Artist structures dimensional polichromias amazingly luminescence, adecuating the equation color-light even in those where there is more concentration of chiaroscuro. By using this, Szyszlo works his way towards a plastic-pictorial metalanguage joined with emblematic characters of a metaphysic theme. He gets rid of any visual residue, as well as any other elements that may devalue the importance of other elements in his pieces, the “spectacularity” is not a part of his being as an Artist. The esthetic emotion is total in a piece that offers testamentary harmonies of complex cultural legacies. That is how, with skillful mastery of formal resources, always emphasizing the strength in color and in the chiaroscuro, omitting the traditional perspective to create depth from the color-light interaction. It is possible to bear that the chromatic fields and his own perspective allow him to organize the composition and the theme, according to learned schemas from archaic architectures. Szyszlo sets the spectators emotion in the color “representation” sacralizing its meaning. He easily marks the identified spaces over the canvas and calls to imagination to explore in its interior. In his pieces nothing is random.Everything and every detail is calculated while a voyeurist impulse sneaks in on every one of his aintings which end up being vibrant, dynamic, or active entities. Livable spaces, or even spaces to be visited.

Topic / Theme: Abstract Concept

The color-shape is here and abstract theme of mystical disturbing character. Resolved in the solitude of an inner and liturgical landscape, almost ready to officiate ancestral ceremonies. There is an abstract theme non-visible to the naked eye but understood by detecting fundamental elements when categorizing the relevant substrate from his culture. Here, two Szyszlo’s are interwoven together: The ancestral rational Polish and the “fantastic” Latino soaked in the ancient cultures from the country he was born. Isn’t it relevant that the titles of his paintings are referenced to this culture ? In his painting a strong moldy of an abstract universal impressionism translated in his own language. A language based on the abstract of a symbolic and“ figured figuration ”, that emerges from the visible structure of the piece: a tomb? a mysterious location? a room? paths or labyrinths ? All seems to be enclosed in texturized volcanic florations of real and optical colors. The imagination to create an architectural landscape saved in the unconscious part of the sensitive memory. In this sense, the power of the chromatic memory takes him to disrespect the conventional lineaments of stain or mancha, but yes to the nature of color. That is why he creates illusionary representations from chromatic perspectives in movement: unequivocated iconographic characteristics of his paintings. It is mystery, is motivated essence feelings, force which is understood when shape and meaning are understood, color and theme. Without imposing a demonstrative theme, but yes emotionally perceptive by associations of feelings and ideas, seem to be a transfiguration of a mental and real theme. The artist studies the sensitive broad possibilities of pigment until the point where a virtual movement is generated thanks to the matteric density and the energy of the luminescence source.

Szyszlo : Serene palpitate of starry nights

The pictoric technique of Fernando de Szyszlo is unique in Latin America. Almost inédit harmonies in amazing contrasts and composition, showing how virtuous he is with color and chiaroscuro. That is how his paintings are expressive visual, chromatic, luminous, formulations organized in different planes. An impeccable technique, along with the constructive perfection of the pictoric space, giving the piece an almost sublime and sacred with shapes that remembrance myth and ancestral origins, resulting in plastic architectures from where ministers seem to preach ceremonies to ancient cult deities through its hollowness. His inventions elaborated from realities are an indefectible part of his enigmatic and mysterious character in which he mixes the rational with the emotional, and this is the reason why Fernando de Szyszlo is an absolute contemporaneity: Its about the painting-painting.

– Bélgica Rodríguez