Gabriel García Márquez- Reality and Fiction

Reality and Fiction in painting by Sabina Woźnica , Instituto Cervantes, Cracovia 2012′

Painting very rarely enters the space of literary fiction. That’s the role of illustration – usually appearing on paper, often printed together with the text and always remaining dependent on it. An image on a canvas does not fit within this frame: the autonomy necessary to achieve the status of a work of art means that its natural tendency is to directly measure itself against the visible world. When an artist uses an imaginary world created by a writer as a model, they enter into a complex system of references in which the identity of the painting is sometimes tested. Sabina Woźnica took up this challenge, and the writer whose world she has explored over several years is  Gabriel García Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Autumn of the Patriarch, The General in His Labyrinth – these books have already inspired a whole series of her paintings. Entering into a painterly dialogue with prose of this class requires artistic courage. This is because it is extremely intense prose, combining individual paragraphs that move between temporal and spatial planes, saturated colours and smells, cold and heat, moisture and the dryness of the climate. It is suggestive in its creation of landscapes and characters, carried far away from simple linearity, full of turns and narrative leaps compounded by the creeping strangeness of the events.

How does one cope with this pervasiveness, drawing in the reader without the element of the word? Sabina Woźnica’s strategy is simple: we must show them the freedom of the pictorial element. That is what first acts here, with the sounds of intense reds, blue greens and yellows, expressed by freely placed impasto spots. In this way an expanse is being built – ambiguous, layering and diverging like the overlapping plans in Gabriel García Márquez’s paragraphs. To give them a visual equivalent there must also be light – the shining blast of the tropical heat covering Fermina Daza’s half-naked figure sitting on the patio Love in the Time of Cholera,  or the greenish glow of dawn reflecting the sombre mood in the dictator’s decaying palace The Autumn of the Patriarch – and the tone, in this case the painted equivalent of a literary local colour. Architecture, landscape – these are elements identifying the location of individual scenes. Sometimes they build a spatial depth, other times they gravitate towards the surface of the image, organically blending in with its textural complexity. Animal and human figures are treated similarly – loudly detached from the background and then bluntly characterised in portrait form, like General Simon Bolivar in uniform The General in His Labyrinth or Fermina Daza on the patio or Dr Juvenal Urbino and Barbara the mulatto Love in the Time of Cholera, or constructed from free-form splotches integrally associated with the background, configured in a kind of painted stage-setting directing towards pairs of protagonists, crowds welcoming the general or a horseback cavalcade.

A lack of hindrance by the conventions of presentation does not indicate their absence. On the contrary – there are many here, but Sabina Woźnica engages in free play with them like Gabriel García Márquez with literary conventions, referring mainly to the tradition of twentieth-century painting, though occasionally she paraphrases the iconography of Velázquez. Sometimes the references are layered (the mulatto woman, Barbara, evokes the woman lying in the pose of Manet’s Olympia in Gauguin’s painting). It seems that German Expressionism, inspired by the emancipation of creating paintings through paint splotches, and also its range of colours, has had the strongest influence on the “márquezian” style of the artist’s paintings. This applies mainly to the later paintings in the cycle, because we should note that their style has evolved, and for example, the One Hundred Years of Solitude series of paintings created in 2004-2005 echoes the work of Picasso, Schiele, or painters from the New Figuration milieu. It is interesting, however, that throughout the entire series there are few references to South American painting, though the watermelon laying next to Barbara the mulatto may recall the famous still life of Frida Kahlo. By not searching for local colour there, Sabina Woźnica avoided the trappings of style, and without it her painted interpretation of García Márquez ’s prose seems much more plausible.

Leszek Danilczyk

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