Powers of Art. José Luis Brea.  (2003)

Can we deny that the "fundamental trend of our times", to quote Severino, points to die trivialisation of the social meaning of art - its loss of aura, its loss of strenght as an instrument of construction or intensification of forms of experience, of the spheres of life? Quite clearly vve cannot. It is, nevertheless, certain that a less tumultuous, less dominant wind is blowing the opposite way, and is no less constant and effective through its gentleness. It lakes the paintings of Begona Egurbide to further destinations and meanings.

Her art is not one of formal pleasures, an "aestheticised" art, that of the beauty parlour; but searing and brutal, tearing under the skin and blooding the gaze. It holds something initiatory, a ceremonial power game bearing the echoes of secret rituals and sacrifices. All this is achieved without the merest hint of sensationalism, without the truculence of the bloodcurdling images which the expressionism of the past years has accustomed us to. Quite the contrary in fact, its effectiveness, its strength, is based on a deep seated knowledge of the "powers of art". A knowledge which shows through not so much in an intellectualised way but more immediately and intuituively.

Strengths which hark back to some ancestral, almost anthropological remembrance, of the place and the function that art had to assume - those of place and function which seem to have been almost irrevocably lost in new societies. Powers which would arise from their constituent potential in the orders of understanding the world. Powers which Begona Egurbide plays with and displays in her paintings with the able wisdom of a priestess. Powers which locate the symbol through primordial language, in which the elementary form retains this primary function whereby poetry is both writing and hieroglyphics, pure visuality and primary song.

Powers which attract the representation of the body which have become relics, the atavistic memory of fire and the elements, a fossil register of visions and dark, primary fantasies. It is thus, before the savage materiality of her paintings, that the tension of the primary learning of the world is experienced, the difficulty in understanding what the language is before knowing it: this possibility of associating a sound, a shape, a sign, with something else, an object, a being.

Art is what attracts and thus imbues the naming, writing or drawing of its power of statement about the world, and these are the powers which Egurbide's work continues to assume: its effectiveness a gift of offering is also part of them, even as a medicine, if desired. What it gives to us, as a vision of identity in difference, of difference in identity- and therefore illness and awareness of it - , is also the enlightening understanding of this metaphysical gesture for which the conscience opens magnificently and with sovereingnty in the midst of the world, still without knowing if this is its place, but willing -or condemned- to always be in it, turned into a pure and clean event, a thrilling moment in the fascinating adventure of the being.


José Luis Brea





Translated by: Andrew Langdom Davies

begoña egurbide
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