Ornament. Sixto Peláez (1989)
All painting is in a single picture. One picture. You can say it, express it all in one picture. But then why do not just one, but two, and then three, four, five, fifty? And secondly, the chances are that these will fall naturally into groups of, say, three or six which in turn will use given formats of roughly the same size —small, medium, large.
From all the years I’ve been painting it’s clear that the picture is my unit, or at least has been up to now.
I’ve always worked on the picture, rectangular, even when I'm working out how to hang them. On a rectangular picture. The most I’ve allowed myself is to do pictures that fraternize. The farthest I’ve gone with a picture is to start it from the same place as another. But in fact, and appearances to the contrary,
I haven't even done series, that is, variations. Every picture is one, unique, and can form part of a set of units that reinforce the single picture that lies behind.
To speak of a «project» is to contradict the idea of the once-and-for-all picture.
The «project» is the different stages or sides of that
unique, all-inclusive picture I keep coming back to. These different sides are the unique picture.
A picture can be a moment. One picture is all I need to define me, but I need them all; or so it seems; and we have to continually define ourselves. That's why we keep on painting. I keep on making a statement each time because the picture I did a moment ago, a few days ago. a few years ago, is no good to me now.
I use, make use of painting to define myself. Maybe this is what being an artist is. Seems obvious,
For me the picture is no mystery. Not a blank canvas. The picture is finished.
I'm the one who’s not finished. It is my self that is blank. Which is the reason why I paint, to catch hold of myself through the picture, my picture that makes me.
A picture is often too easy, too hard.
Fundamentally the picture refers to my time, my space, my consistence, volume, rhythm, tone. But to all other pictures as well; the pictures of others, like a shadow or signal, necessary and precise.
I don't use figurative references because the picture turns out more clear and direct. Specific elements would get in the way. I began using them a month
or two ago because the emblematic aspect of decoration appeared. Physically I’ve become conscious of belonging to defined co-ordinates of society and geography
The picture isn't static, it moves. It changes. And everything that refers to it as well.
When I bring it off is when you receive what underlies the picture. Something, precisely, that has identity and moves.
This is no figure of speech. The picture is what I have in front of my eyes, nothing more. It’s no allegory, I mean it has nothing to do with suggesting, creating states of mind or feeling.
I can paint only because I know that the painting is able to exist in itself. The painting I'm doing.
Still, when the joint effort of everybody is constituted in itself and takes on texture, it forms an annex of testimony and reference. I'm conscious of this, but never when I'm working, probably because the culture doesn't exist in itself.
The business of creation and the spirit required for the art process lie in virgin territory, to some extent inaccessible.
I have the impression I'm always trying to locate myself. Putting myself in a
given place. I don't know what this place is like or where it is, and that doesn't bother me in advance because I know that the moment I know I'm there something will make me leave it. This is a common experience of life, dramatic evidence that we all suffer, although what is dramatic is that we don't really know why we tend towards an absolute that time and time again demonstrates its impossibility.
One picture leads me to another, but I'm really looking for the same picture. The only pictutre possible. I also have the impression that this question begins and ends in me. It’s biting one’s own tail, but still the most real thing that can happen. I’ve got nothing better to do. It’s the most real I feel.
The question is that when we stand in front of the picture it should be understood.
The problem is that when someone places himself in front of the picture he should understand it.
Understand what it wants to say, what it’s trying to do; what it wants to explore, find out, assert, reinforce.
Where it begins and where it ends. Where to take hold of it, in fact. Let the picture explain itself and when finally someone stands in front of it he should know where the shots are coming from and get hit, what reasons make it be done this way and not any other.
And especially why it was done rather than not.
How you get inside it, how you get out, where it's coming from and where it's going.
All of this has to be clear, perceptible. If it isn't, the discourse goes sour, breaks off, breaks up. It has no code, its language is not clear or it has none.
And because above all, any realization that can be called artistic, of whatever kind, has to include order and sense.
Only then can the artist's work interest us. Ordering impressions, intuitions, emotions, motivations, rational systems, and transmitting them, making them perceptible so they can be transmitted, conferring a sense on this arrangement or order we have established.
First, a work of art has interested us because it has shown us someone else's way of being, it makes us feel with it. we wonder at it, it makes us smile, we share its world, then it shows us our work of art,
ultimately because it shows us everybody’s; it makes us see that it's not the work of an individual but the expression
of everybody. Depending on how it’s presented, art is a kind of business deal of the spirit, of art; a sort of settling accounts between human beings, it doesn't seem to go any further than that.
This is the outcome and culmination of the artist's work (better dead than alive); a homely glory that feebly imitates nature, even for those who work outside the beaten track.
All right. Even when we reach this low assessment of art, and hence of life, there still remains a sense of seriousness even when, in spite of everything, we must be getting very close or have connected really quite well and at last we've turned up at the side of that decisive road where the chariots of fire come flying past and the prophets catch them as they go by and the artists climb on board up little ladders of the universe. It’s a privileged position, being human, being an artist.