sábado, 22 de mayo de 2010

Jeremy Roe sobre ROJO KABUKI:

ROJO KABUKI is an all too fitting and celebratory sounding title, not only for the first exhibition of the startling series of paintings that is ROJO KABUKI, but also for Virginia Patrone’s first encounter with these northern climes. For those new to Patrone’s work, everything is up in the air! Who knows where we stand before these paintings? Japan’s Kabuki theatre is pretty much culturally equidistant from both Virginia’s Patrone’s Montevideo and Nottingham. Thus our critical tendency to exoticise or categorise Patrone’s work as from that even deeper South than the one normally referred to wavers, for we are confronted by a conundrum: a Uruguyuan painter who has created a series of paintings inspired by her studies of and around a four hundred year old tradition of popular Japanese theatre! For those new to Patrone’s work they should expect no less, bound into the very colour of her paintings there are always intense periods of study of images, films or landscapes and also readings of diverse materials.
Thus these paintings are new, but they are also the result of a long creative process inspired by Patrones’ many interests in Japan and its art and literature, interests reciprocated by the exhibition of her work at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1990. It is impossible to imagine that these startling images were created on a whim; the immediacy of Patrone’s painting is given weight and presence by the echoes and reflections of the Kabuki that resonate within the scenes she depicts1. But the Kabuki was a point of departure for these paintings and they have left the Japanese theatre far behind to take on the forms you see before you.
The Japanese theatre has become a theatre of the imagination, the paintings offer painterly dreams of a new theatre, not of speech, but of silent gazes laden with colourful meanings, dreams of women whose postures and gestures speak of emotional, inner depths. But speak of what? Not even the titles seem to help: betrayed, family trees, hierro, oro, uranio, plomo [iron, gold, uranium, lead], the tattooed woman, Kitsune, Japanese for Fox, a mythological beast who slinks in and out of these paintings and in good Japanese style even takes on human form as in Jennifer Fox.
To understand what the images of Jennifer Fox and the other performers enacting these images speak of one needs to look into the theatrical painterly space they speak from, a space best described as just this side of the impossible, a space along the borders of the probable2.
It is a space Patrone has been constructing and charting over the years through her interweavings of images and tales, of myths and the everyday, on the one hand and on the other the body. Mostly she is concerned with the female body, an ever present and everyday reality, as a form in her work that emanates emotions, desires and ideas in gestures borne on coloured hues. This space which her work explores could best be described as a juncture between words and images, where images make possible the meaning of words and vice versa, it is in this space that myth, fiction, history even the everyday becomes significant, deeply, to us, now, here.
To gauge this sense of this work, to engage with the women Patrone portrays, who perform for Patrone, you do not need to know about Kabuki theatre, although it would seem that a glad phantom of Okuni, the Priestess, who in1603 with her troupe of female dancers danced the first “Kabuki Odori” besides Kyôto’s river Kamo illuminates these paintings3. No, the aim of these paintings is not a scholastic exercise, instead they are conceived very much in the popular spirit of the Kabuki theatre, so as you look on see them as theatre, albeit a strange otherly theatre to be wondered and marvelled at; the paintings stage, even choreograph, scenes to be seen, there are no words to listen to, just languages of gesture, the body, of colour. By entering into the spectacle of these works, Patrone offers opportunities to move towards the limits of the probable and the impossible and it is there that traditions, cultures, art and places as distant as Montevideo, Kyoto and Nottingham come together, become something new, become ROJO KABUKI.

1I here refer to Patrone’s reflections on this series of paintings
in an unpublished text titled Por Qué Rojo Kabuki.
2I here allude to lo probablemente imposible, an unpublished
poem by Virginia Patrone.
3In 1629 women were banned from performing the Kabuki