Emilia Enríquez: A new simbolic body

Amongst all the biographical details about Emilia Enriquez (Orense, 1972), one detail is what most called my attention about the continuum of her work. This is about the encounter she had with the professor Hipolito Hidalgo de Caviedes [1], an elderly painter full of energy, with whom she studied under for two years (2). Known for his paintings of wax-like bodies (3) with geometric composition comprised with alien influences. That this self-thought, and reflected, painter, with the air of perpetual heterodox shown with the sense of absolute art (4), the sense of most ordered and refined, as well as excellent teacher and persona, were to cross his path with Enriquez is a detail that should not be overlooked. The artist has remembered that even when teaching his calling for creating art was always present. Alberto Santoris was one of those that highlighted his work as following “the roughness struggle between tragedy and sensuality and the sober and transparent” (5). Another remark, proper of our informal creators, the work of Hidalgo de Caviedes, wrote Jose Hierro, is a battlefield (6). the profound and good willing painter created portraits of Spanish women in grieving. The black shadows, empty skies and the silence was described by him as everlasting, something that “we all are born under and under which we will die” (7).

The walls of this artist’s studio in Retiro are accumulated by objects, most of them being quite singular and found by chance on the path of life. Few of these finds are very symbolic, few found within the trash of the capital, brushes, rests of paint, and the bits and pieces of “History of Art”, by Jose Pijoan, spatulas, saws, pallets, a pass to the Bellas Artes of Madrid from the 30s, a pencil case full of the artists tools and other objects related to painting that were left behind.

Emilia Enriquez started some 10 years ago the making boxes that were full of objects that held underlying meanings. Within a methacrylated urn these symbolic objects were “trapped” to the conventionally known feminine universe. They were called “My Other Self” and “Women’s Universe and Battles” (8) as stated by Emilia Enriquez. Mostly gathered together of tubes and bottles of cosmetics, gloves and a range of boxes, the closing pharmaceutical aging of the illusion of the youth with a theatric air and an aspect of rescued from an old draft of makeup. Nous faire la peau (9), ultimately is a makeup or a balsam that represents the feminine safe place that can be found within the skin. It allows us to slide in into our production of recent worry of skins, the covering inquiry that we carry on our bodies for a brief moment. Singular objects that in presence of the mentioned gloves were put in one of these boxes that have an air of magical Melies, a cosmetic from where the reiteration sours into the human objects, accumulating the sense of subconscious shadows that the objects have in the world of dreams. These objects remind us of the passions for the search of self controlled systems with geometrical air, that allowed the structure in a severe, almost scientific, chaos. This is something never seen in her career, as stopping to ask questions for her is impossible. It is the poetical mystery between things that things created, or written, are not to offer conclusions but rather more options for answers. Many times this is done in a poetic and mysterious way that offer room for space yet to be explored. Ultimately, the objects of Enriquez piled up remind of Cirlot’s “strange objects with symbolic functionality” that were created from “a harvest of questions”.(10)

Behind the thin line of informal and battle, the skin and shroud, I must confess that I have not been able to take my mind off, every since I started to familiarize with Enriquez’s work, from the burlap painter Manolo Millares. The artist of the pain and the homunculus, the rotting and silt, of the broken man, the artist who is attracted to horror, destruction and construction, also shows question marks through his three dimensional work of the human body. He is also a researcher of the elevation of the new representation of the human being in the ashes of history. The constructor of faces and bodies on their way to the destruction, their cycle to the infernal path is inquired by Enriquez. This extraordinary body art attached to the human, which art at times fails to represent. In any case, known by Enriquez, painting bodies, or even mention them in our convulsed and vertiginous times, is melancholy. This is because the representation of the human body, especially the face, has been influenced by mainly Anglo-Saxons, the world of Arikha, Bacon, Freud and other famous names.

Every time I have seen the latest creations in the artist’s studio, I have though with an archeological air about the souring from the battle similar to what I had during the construction of the Patched World, says Enriquez. This singular story with what I worked frantically, without rest or breath, obsessively and intensively as proper to the artist, for the last two years that was then concluded in a narrative occasion at the Antonio Perez Foundation, Cuenca, the perfect place to meet with the object related magical world of the obssesive collector. This is a story that is not so much a thesis but more like a container of other stories, it sums up of short histories where the creator creates a reflection, a lucky trip as stated by Enriquez, that flies over our species. The equal condition of a skeleton helps us to understand the nonstop battle for survival. Sewing, bodies and written texts, Penelope emulates that some artists from our times, such as Bourgeois, have used the string and needle (or other items used for sewing) as a tool in their studios. String and needle from the tedious work, string and needle from the table of a surgeon that reconstructs aching bodies. Sewing odd elements from history and bodies, texts magically put together with a string and a needle (11), the Galician artist suggest the elevation of a new symbolic way to construct bodies with her hands holding them up in a space in a dramatic, almost rude, air. This she does like if a phoenix were to reappear from the ashes of time. In a way, Enriquez, held up into the air with the restored strings, makes us think about our humble and mortal selves, which after all is nothing but a type of exorcism. Enriquez undergoes a history telling through the construction of skeletons. By sewing them back together they compose an alphabet titled “reconstructed”. It talks about the new creation of a strange argument of a patient labour that consequently would make this proposal into an insolate reconstruction of a body. Traditionally the redesigning through sewing is a relieving practice that frequently surges from the secular loneliness of a woman (12). For those that create these questions about the human identity, texts that search the reconstruction of the other world, find themselves in a high for being able to touch this other universe. Art, as expressed by Paul Klee (13) does not express something visible but something that makes the unseen clear to the eye. Elevation this way of the new “world” obtains a setting of fragments with broken air that allows us to see the reconstruction of the human. This traditionally woman’s task mentions the reclusive space for the artist of everything that time, condition, space and identity “j’ai soif”, as quoted by Palazuelo, is not always a tower of Saint-Jacques (14), a space where another body is broken into pieces. “A creature is within me” highlights G. W. Russell, and the task of an artist is, or more like the life sentence, is to search for all the treasures from this “world that is around us”. (15)

All in all, the work of Enriquez can be concluded in this poetic finality to reconstruct of previously mentioned in a proposal within the chaos and souring to bring light into this new dimension of reality. Keeping this in mind her creations fit into what we call a patient reflection of an artist capable of dissecting the human condition dwelled in mystery. Enriquez contemplates these questions through her work. These mysteries that we call “life”, even if the literature of science partially answers them, are up in the air unanswered and to be explored.

Lifted bodies like puppets up in the air, the construction of these pieces and colour in is limited only to touches of red. From the “Pre-Man” to “Self- Directed Evolution” and “The Other Self” and other smaller creations by Enriquez are the principal declarations: From elevating a new body in the “Genetic Optimism” , “Delicate Balance”, Hip Hop Dancing Skeletons in Jeans”, “Cross Country Runners” or “Cosmonauts” her reflections on these extract a steady affirmation that “biology teaches us that life is constructed on death (…) the human happiness is, and always will be, insecure and limited, and will always be threaten by sickness and death” (16). As Millares would say (17) within this sadness of human existence, denied their divine image, this Canarian artist shows the more frequently seen “beauty” in his work- The river of tilted fabrics and diverse images of the human bodies covered in them is always a body of pain. From Grunewald to Bacon, Enriquez is a new maker of monsters (18). In this re-sewn world the monsters, also commonly seen in our time’s art, and that historically represented the body, bodies that in the 20’s century had the possibilities to test their limits and restrictions, the secret and holy.

The homunculi composition tables are usually cruciform in that the sewing or folding the burlap has a vision of corpulent volume in it. The rigidness of the burlap because of the pigments, evokes the rigor mortis in it. One strain, the serge, which may be shroud, evoking the fabric covering the body at the end, which wound twill, such scar burlap, jute stroking a molded body, rotting or once such object. Bundle-body-hanging, sacrificial praise abandoned in a space which, however, seems to sustain sometimes bloodless, arms help with strips from their tips. Enriquez hangs her bone constructions, her skeletons, reminding us that Apollinaire, the hung being hung, is the twelfth Arcanum tarot. Her mission is to clap her feet together three times to open the curtain: it is a symbolic harlequin colleague waiting with a faded nihilism for the curtains to open and the homunculi to start (19).
Enriquez obsessive world, disturbing and furious world (20) is reflected always on equal subjects, especially if we were to think on the recognition that her work got during the cycles of calls. “Geishas” (21) (2004-2009). These mummified geishas that are saved from the tombs frequently decorated with their jewel were always, in her words, a representation of the same one person. Alive they were livelier, quicker and with the voice of the artist surprisingly with symbols full of life (22). It is not strange that “Geishas” are known to have a singular position in which they are recognized by this artist in this world of art (23). To compose her world of “World of residue” Enriquez works with discarded materials and then presented them natural and well elaborated until their frequent trouvés condition were made to disappear. Sugar canes and other discarded metaphoric carriers (24). This the artist carefully puts together in her creations. The use of these light woods, and the lifting of them up in the air has made me think of the moving figures of Moises Villelia (25) because of its material taken from the nature that I have linked with the telluric work of Adolf Schlosser. Some other elements used to create are silks, parchment, pillow stuffing or nylon strings, minerals, minimal air and always symbolic highlights in them.
Frequently absent, the skull (26), the capitia, is an element that defines and distinguished us from the other. This adds to Enriquez’s work very much like Masson, Klinger, Dedon, Doré, Rodin or Giacometti, the inquiry about the leaderless element of representation. Suspended up by a support it reminds her of the fragile condition of being hung. They are sometimes crowed with a mock toothed mouths, lips and tongues with anemic air, à bout de souffle, only remaining in the meantime the other lives they had. After hole orificum and bone, the ‘other’ is a word that come from a Latin root. “The mouth is the origin of everything” (27) proclaims Enriquez knowingly. Open mouths are the black holes of evocative woven fabric, pain and extraordinary stress. The Christian history shows how the suffering of Christ reflects on the believers. The cry is the image of horror, mouth exhale, and breath, the sharp sound of the complaint or hoarse bellow. The stifled sigh, a sound reminder of the end. The zaheridan nurse’s mouth of “The Battleship Potemkin” or, as Bacon remembered the painting “The Massacre of the Innocents” (1630-1631) by Nicolas Poussin, recalls the landscape of desolate spaces of Giorgio de Chirico. The English artist had not only set in the world of painting, but also did an intense analysis of the expression of pain, one of his sources of inspiration being the old nineteenth-century books pathologies of the mouth. This was narrated: “Another thing that made me think about the human cry was a book I bought when I was very young. I found it in a bookstore in Paris, it was a second hand book that had very beautiful plates, colored by hand, mouth disease, wonderful sheets of open mouths and the examination of the inside of the mouth, which fascinated me. I was obsessed with them.” (28) George Bataille had recalled the case of open mouths: “on great occasions human life is concentrated bestially in the mouth. Anger makes teeth chatter, terror and atrocious suffering make the mouth create piercing screams. It is easy to observe in this connection that the deranged person hangs his head frantically back, while his mouth opens so much it lines with the spine, a position more typical to animal constitution.” (29) God has been murdered, and tooth necklaces are given out I criminal parties, sing, at the beginning of the fifties, the poet and critic Juan-Eduardo Cirlot. (30)

As noted by Jean Clair, “the gaze of the painter is to remember, with regret, that the visible world is a world tour, marked, scratched by networks of desire, incessantly travel, pierced, cut, sunlit strokes ranging from eye to the body and in the body, what attracts him irresistibly, that other black mouth, that hole in the shade looking desperately to lie.” (31) Nevertheless, his latest series are, in the words of Enriquez, “a reflection of questions, concerns and enthusiasm in the future footprint of things to come, and partly the responsibility of our choice. What traces left that piece in the future, which way will you take? (32)

It is the voice of our master body-maker, Hidalgo Caviedes that states “the painter has in his hands a distinct magic: creating unreal spaces and have them stay in all shapes, all geometries, all colors, all beings exist and do not exist, all the gods, all the dreams, all poetry.” (33)

Alfonso de la Torre. September 2013-February 2014
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(1) Madrid, 1902-1994

(2) Other narrations marked in the artistic biography of Enriquez is her meeting with Jorge Kreisler. This was through the recommendation of the young, past away, painter with a nihilist and sad poetic air, Oscar Garcia Bendi (Valdepeñas, 1952-Madrid, 1990) whom we met in “Bienal” (Centro Cultural de la Villa, Madrid, 1981) Enriquez exhibit in Galeria Kreisler, in 1998 and 2001, where her work was greatly appreciated.

(3) “I always considered the man, the human body, as a center, as a unit and protagonist of the idea (…) it always fascinated me above all the other human figures and I always integrated it with other elements into my art work. I do not see the landscape rather than the bottom where I want to place or a projection of myself, which does not lose its own hierarchy. I think that to paint a tree, without intending to, I’m painting my own self. ” Caviedes Hipolito Hidalgo, “The painter in front of his work”, “Academia: Bulletin of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando”, No. 56, Madrid, first half 1983, p. 15

(4) Cited by Manuel Augusto García Viñolas, “Hipolito Hidalgo de Caviedes”, Ministry of Science and Education, Madrid, 1976, p. 23

(5) Alberto Sartoris, “The likelihood of the unlikely by Hidalgo de Caviedes”, “Goya”, No 118, Madrid, 1974

(6) Jose Hierro, “Hipolito Hidalgo de Caviedes”, “New Diary”, Madrid, 7/II/1971

(7) These lines are taken from the poem “Women in black in Spain” put together by Manuel Augusto Garcia Viñolas, en op. cit.

(8) Emilia Enriquez. Conversations with the author. SEE ‘MY OTHER SELF’

(9) French expression: “we pull off the skin, kill”.

(10) Juan-Eduardo Cirlot, “The world of object under the Surrealism”, Editorials by Nordeste, PEN, Barcelona, 1953

(11) “Louise Bourgeois, “always found fascinating because of its needle, for its magical powers to heal the damage. It’s a re-vindication of forgiveness. “ Uta Grosenick, ‘Female artist from the XX and XXI centuries’, Taschen, Köln, 2005, p. 43. (4)

(12) “Thinking of Michel Foucault’s “female solitude”, where one of the secular places has been the house.

(13) Paul Klee, “Schöpferische Konfession”, in “Tribüne des Kunst und Zeit”, Vol. XIII, Kasimir, Edschmid-Erich Reiss Verlage, Berlin, 1920.

(14) Cited in: Alfonso de la Torre, “Pablo Palazuelo. poem Twiglight”, in “PabloPalazuelo, 13 rue Saint-Jacques (1948-1968)” , Juan March foundation in Museo Jorge Oteiza, Madrid-Alzuza, 2010-2011.

(15) “Il y a quelque chose, une créature en moi, qui va d’un tel train qu’à vouloir la suivre je m’essouffle, condamné á n’être toujours qu’un traînard derrière cette voyageuse qui peut, elle, remonter l’infini des temps et en revenir chargée de tous les trésors de ses périples entre deux battements de mon cœur”. George William Russell, “L’architecture du rêve”, “Derrière le miroir”, no 104, Maeght Éditeur, Paris, 1958

(16) Emilia Enriquez. Conversations with the author. She puts in words “Biology Teaches us that life is constructed on Death (…) Human happiness is, and always will, insecure and limited and is continuously threatened by illness and death.”. Faustino Cordón, “Cooking made the man”, Tusquets, Barcelona,1979

(17) Millares makes, starting in 1958, forty-five paintings with the title of “Homunculi” and several other paintings in which the transcript would remain the same. The title will endure traveling throughout his mature artistic career, from that date until the last frames of the seventies, including accompanying caption mode-a-certain pictures of his final series “Antropofauna”.

(18) Jean Clair, “Hubris. La fabrique du monstre dans l’art moderne”, Gallimard, Paris, 2012

(19) This is reflected in “Correspondence”, Edition by Pierre Caizergues y Hélène Seckel, Ediciones Visor, Madrid, 2000, p. 43. Poem with a title “Spectacle”, for Picasso in 1/XI/2005. The poem will be taken up and modified, added and two quartets, for Apollinaire en “Alcools”, under the title “Twilight”: “While with the feet, hung/ Clap three times for the curtain to go up”. (Tandis que des pieds, un pendu/ Bat trois coups, pour lever la toile”. Ibíd. p. 43-44. Translated by Lydia Vázquez).

(20) “From where did this painter, still so young, get such a critical vision, so acidic, and especially so fierce, about the world around him?”. Juan Adriansens, Introduction to the exhibition catalog of the artist in the gallery Kreisler Madrid (1998).

(21) The “Geishas” done between two periods: 2004-2006 y 2008-2009.

(22) Geisha for me have a life under their putrid appearance (…) in several ways: it is the new character created by them, underlying low that appearance, embodying a new life into this look, I say ‘life’ and not ‘character’ because to get to build and take that character is a lifetime of dedicated, then your skin becomes parchments, grooved and smoked. They have had to consume time and correctly which I already produces life, a life that is left behind. “Emilia Enriquez. Conversations with the author.

(23) Recently exhibit in Centro Cultural Villa de Móstoles, under “Emilia Enriquez: echos from the past”, Móstoles, 6 Mayo-6 Junio 2013

(24) Enriquez points out that some of the species are from the dismantling of Christmas baskets, this face being metaphor. This opulence now becomes vanity.

(25) I am referring not only to the subject of your suspended buildings but also sculptures of roots, sticks and lacquered threads. 1957-1958.

(26) The “headless” is cited by Jean Clair in his “Hubris. La fabrique du monstre dans l’art moderne”, op. cit.

(27) Emilia Enriquez. Conversations with the author.

(28) David Sylvester, “Inteerviews with Bacon”, Editions by Polígrafa, Barcelona, 1977, p. 34″I have always been very impressed by the movements of the mouth and the shape of the mouth and teeth. They say there is an implication of sex (…) I like the brightness and color that comes from the mouth, and I always had the hope of being able to paint the mouth, in a way, like Monet painted the sunset” p. 48

(29) Georges Bataille, “Oeuvres completes I”, Gallimard, Paris, 1937, p. 237

(30) Juan-Eduardo Cirlot, “Ferrant, Ferreira, Serra, Oteyza”, in “The sculptures of Ferrant Ferreira, Oteiza and E. Serra”, “Dau al Set”, Barcelona, III/1951

(31) Jean Clair, “Lessons of abyss”, Antonio Machado, Madrid, 2005

(32) Emilia Enriquez. Conversations with the author.

(33) Hipólito Hidalgo de Caviedes, “Painter facing his work”, citing pages 16-17