04 Jun VOLTA BASEL 2022
13-19th of June
For Volta Basel we propose a project about childhood, from three very different, original and enriching points of view. The current situation which has led to a mandatory standstill worldwide, has led artists to a catharsis which, in many cases, has caused the inner child within to resurface, and for the proposed artists, seems to have recovered their particular outlook of childhood. This may also be the case of the proposed artists, as it seems that they have recovered their particular outlook of childhood.
Salustiano´s view of childhood is that of an idealised, timeless and eminently classic one, understanding classic here as canonical, worthy of imitation. His portraits of children remind us of the most elegant Renaissance, with a Quattrocento-inspired composition. The exhibition of his pieces is remanence of grand exhibitive spaces such as palaces or Lord houses, yet, at the same time, have the unmistakable contemporary air of fresh state-of-the-art work, new (Discovery) or even rediscovered.
His tondos and large landscape canvases tend to have a flat colour, obtained from several natural pigments, of an intense tone, done with oil paint or acrylic, which covers most of the surface and even overflows, as it taints the clothes of the depicted. Through this means, he manages to isolate the naked torso of the child, which acquires a sculpturesque dimensionality, thus transforming his pieces into iconographic motifs. Portraits which go further than the incredible resemblance of the model, as they are effigies of the soul. The extraordinary technique which is indicative of Salustiano´s works, with a pictorial excellence which comes from unquestionable expertise, places him with the greatest artistic masters of all time.
With the extraordinary aesthetic sensibility which defines him, Salustiano manages create beautiful children, timeless epheboi aware that they are representing the ideal Platonic beauty both in the harmony and proportion of parts, as well as the balance and glory of what is pleasant and attracts.
Conchi Alvarez offers a perspective of childhood based on the transmission of inherited traditions passed down from parents to children, specifically those concerning Semana Santa. This Holy Week is a Spanish Catholic tradition which has been celebrated for centuries, and takes place the immediate Sunday after the first full moon after the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the Week running up to Easter Sunday.
One of its clearer manifestations would be the Processions. Here, the Pasion and death of Christ is shown via “pasos” (from the latin “passus”, scene of pasion). The pasos are Pasion floats with an array of polychrome wooden sculptures which represent the most important moments of said Pasion. They are carried and escorted by cofrades which gather in brotherhoods, each with their own name and uniform of different penitents, which transforms the Processions into an impressive performance of colour. This tradition was implemented by the Catholic Hierarchy with a pedagogic intentionality, and in order to call upon believers to repent of their committed sins.
The preferred main focus of the artist is the role of the young cofrades in the brotherhoods. On many occasions, they aren´t aware of what is happening in the representation, and they react in many different ways, therefore creating in the children a series of emotions and attitudes. From being scared, or even having sheer terror, upon the sight of the hooded penitents and the hyperrealistic sculptures of a bleeding Christ, to laughter and child play with the rest. All of the infantile group reactions take place in the moments before the start of the procession, and Conchi´s paintings magnificently capture some of those moments. Once the procession begins, the feeling of belonging to a group, compels them to a solemn, organised and disciplined parade. The close presence of their parents, “starters” of this tradition in the young, is decisive, and they spur on and encourage the younglings to enjoy this unique tradition so that its heritage prevails.
This French artist carries out a profound insight of her immense inner child. In her inner search, Julie finds a flurry of experiences, memories and dreams relating to her own childhood. There is a full surrealistic paradise lodged in her subconscious, which she shapes through an intuitive, sensory and irrational process. These shapes seem to have been born far too quickly, with scarcely any time to organise, compose and rationalise such chaos, hustle and bustle, but precisely due to this, they are more genuine and authentic.
She uses a millenary technique, ink on paper. But, in her case, she uses inks of flat colours, intense and saturated, or lavis (watered washed colours), which she does with an evocative schematization of the shapes. In each and every piece, the lack of an atmosphere is significant, proliferating closed compositions where air is sacrificed in favour of an aquatic surrounding, being the foetal environment par excellance. Hence, the use of water-based inks and the rest of lavis in her works.
For Julie, a part of the infancy begins rights from the maternal bosom, period in which she seems to have vivid memories, or, at least, desires to relive in her daydreams. From this is where maternity is such a recurring theme in her work, especially in the conception and gestation. Which is why her art portrays her most intimate inner self, depicting the yearning of the maternal womb, but also the memories of a missed security that comes from a happy and protected childlife.