Tide Marks, the first exhibition of Prudencio Irazábal in Pelaires
… spatia montes in cubiculo dilatantia.
For more than two decades, Prudencio Irazábal’s work has been addressing issues surrounding one of the most essential elements of painting. Irazábal’s works have developed conceptually through research on the deconstruction and materialisation of chromatic thought, an approach he first applied to his work in New York in the early 90s.
For his first exhibition at Pelaires Gallery, Irazábal takes natural light, atmospheric phenomena and outdoor spaces as a point of reference. Although the materials he uses are conditioned by the subtractive mixing of colour pigments, the artist pushes the limits on the articulation of language itself and on the opacity of the pictorial medium. Individual colours, spread out in precise translucent layers placed on the horizontal canvas, control the modelling and management of light. This lengthy process allows the permeability of the layers to determine the retention of light and the vibration of colour; the artist defines this place as the distance within.
Tide Marks, the work that gives the exhibition its title, suggests a narrative space that uses chromatic modulations rather than chiaroscuro to define sequences and passages. Shapes only emerge from the white background through the presence of colour. Due in part to the luminosity of the painting’s lower section, the work resembles a mural fragment, stopping abruptly before moving into whiteness. While all evidence of the application of paint disappear under the irradiation of colour, it can nevertheless be traced in the lines that are also a record of the layers applied.
The works in Tide Marks stem from a critical reading of optical images of open spaces projected through a magnifying glass handheld in the shade. The flickering of light and the penumbra soften the contours of the images, while colours become atmospheric and more luminous where the light overlaps. Colours breathe, searching for limits and definition until they disappear into the light. The eye can perceive, with minimal depth of field, spaces that are known to be wide and complex. These projections, created in childhood, were, in a sense, the artist’s first paintings and an initial way of interpreting the visual world. With his back to the window, and facing a thumbnail image of the landscape, Irazábal’s perspective began to broaden while he also began to question direct observation: “ … spatia montes in cubiculo dilatantia”. The spaces that stretch the mountains to the very room itself, wrote Pliny the Elder alluding to the painted panels that decorated indoor chambers. With our peering gaze and dreams, painting expands and moves the world.
Prudencio Irazábal (Puentelarrá, Álava 1954) studied Fine Arts in Seville and Barcelona, furthering his studies at Columbia University, New York, where he moved to in 1986. He began to exhibit there regularly in the late eighties. Currently, his work is part of the exhibitions Art and Space at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Ornament = Crime? at the Centre D’Art Bombas Gens in Valencia.
Irazábal’s works are included in the following collections: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; the Helga de Alvear Foundation in Madrid and Cáceres; the Norman Foster Foundation, Madrid; the Artium-Centro Basque Museum of Contemporary Art in Vitoria; the Banco de España in Madrid; the Banco Español de Crédito in Madrid; the CAB-Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos; the AkzoNobel Art Foundation, in Amsterdam; the Banco de Sabadell in Barcelona; the Bank for International Settlements in Basel; the H+F Collection, Rotterdam, and the Museum gegenstandfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, among others.