STOA Gallery shows “The card players”, from 22nd November 2018 to 25th January 2019, solo exhibition of Conchi Alvarez artist.
The exhibition consists of 14 works, all made in acrylic on paper of 70 x 50 cm. They are sketchs, quick execution notes about 14 women playing cards. And nothing better than to pass to the story of the artist herself, also curator of the exhibition, to be able to introduce herself better in her work:
The location of the scenario is not casual; the action takes place in Castromembibre, a Castilian town in the province of Valladolid, where my family comes from, and where we have spent our vacations since childhood. Like most Castilian villages, it has a small population, less than 100 inhabitants, which has developed a close and exemplary neighborhood relationship. As I have lived in much more densely demographic places, such as Valladolid, Ponferrada, Malaga or Estepona, observing the customs and practices of these rural Castilians has always generated great curiosity and enormous admiration. There are several portraits that I have already done about the town’s beloved characters, capturing moments of healthy coexistence between castreños, especially at the village festivities, in the month of July. The portrait I made of my parents, “Papá y mama” (Dady and mamy) is also located in the old family house, which is right in the main square of Castromembibre.
In this exhibition the daily game of cards of the Spanish deck is shelled, during the summer, in the Council, today City Hall, a humble and dignified space where documents of the town are piled up and where the women of Castromembibre play every afternoon. These Castilians are worthy heirs of a centuries-old custom of healthy female pride. It is important to remember that in this town the Aguedas are celebrated, a tradition that supposed all feminine vindications in a rural environment of masculine cut. They even went further, because they also named “Obispa” (Bishop woman) in another of their celebrations. It seems as if the women castreñas had developed a parallel power that extends to almost all areas of life, and that is objectified in several women mayors in recent times, and that culminates with the current councilor, Lorena, a modern young woman, intelligent, agricultural engineer, and resounding image of a current woman.
When I took the pictures, a couple of afternoons of the month of July of the year 2009, I already knew and felt all the energy that was boiling around that great table of cards. I accompanied my mother to the game full of curiosity and anxious to live that mystical experience that my mother related with passion. I took photos and, truthfully, the photos are not good, to tell the truth, they are very bad, but they have helped to “reconstruct” the experience of those two afternoons. What I saw and lived, is a game of cards that Cézanne himself would have painted if he had had it before, because the atmosphere of the Castromembibre players was much more exciting than that of the French artist’s players. In each of the portraits I think I have captured the soul of each of these 14 extraordinary women, full of vitality, and charged with vital acceptance. Without a doubt there are marked personalities, and I have tried to reflect the idiosyncrasy of each one. I keep in my memory hundreds of gestures, comments, laughter, also silences, even gestures stolen from sadness. With the advantage of the perspective that gives the elapsed time, I see them and I remember them all very beautiful, that beauty that gives dignity and a timeless value system.
Some more beautiful than others, of course, but all cared for, coquettishly showing off her hairdressing hairdo from Tiedra, the nearby town, where they go weekly in several cars. All wearing jewels and clothes with the dignity of queens, because in them lies the old Castilian pride of being free men and women, in the middle of a medieval Europe of serfs. Women with simplicity full of greatness, who talk about politics from the watchtower of centuries and centuries of vital perspective, that more than talking, they sentence, with ancestral wisdom, that thrill for their simplicity and loyalty, that they could be day-to-day heroines, which only lack marketing. “