Why are we moved by painting, if we who find ourselves before a work of art have already discovered the natural world of colours ranging from the violet hues of dawn on to the dark blues of the evening sky? Perhaps because painting, in the hands of one who is truly aware, can become a weapon in the struggle to overcome the transience of our natural perception and with it express ourselves, declare our loyalties, show the changes, enmities, imperturbability and torments. I don’t know if this could be a justification for the existence of painters, but undoubtedly they are here because after centuries of painting about confrontations or events, now they have begun to believe that they can show us colours without it being necessary for them to be something or belong to something, but just as weapons to be used in a struggle in which they are at the same time the essence of that to which they refer and also just what they are themselves. Colours make human sensibility a real and present value.
After this preamble which has served to show colours as being real entities in their own right, alive and autonomous, I would like to talk about the work of Velázquez and contradict what his most ardent critics have said about him: to say that he is far from being a pedantic realist, and even less the idealist which Carducho has criticized him for being, (both characterizations only serving to disguise in words and illustrate in colour the banal and accommodating reality of the time). Velázquez was just a painter who needed to paint; but he couldn’t do without a model, within the range of possibilities resulting from the application of paint to canvas this suppression of the model didn’t even enter his head. Velázquez perceived that anxiety springs out of a dark, indefinite amorphousness and from which appears the need for colour, which give shape and form to what nestles in the consciousness and unconsciousness of us all. He was one of the most successful proponents of the concept of colours as an objective reality, that allowed those with the urge to paint, to make use of them, without any other justification.
This has been an almost essential preamble before we come to discuss the work of this born painter that is Pablo Rey. The allusion to Velázquez has its rationale in that, as a human being, Pablo Rey has been for some time subject to experiencing colour in a certain way, as atmospheric vibration, something also attributed to Velázquez. Finally, however, he realized that for a painter, colour has no other value than that of its presence; and that the rest comes, originates from, the intention and necessity inherent in the process to which it is subjected. So, painting consists of planting the colour which has grown inside oneself and appears in the space on the canvas for who knows what reason, immediately, to be subdued, so that it can answer to the reason why, between the colour and the artist, such a meeting took place.
Just like Velázquez – as seen in his work -, Pablo Rey is quite impulsive, but also – like the painter from Seville – there is, in the work of our contemporary artist, quite a carefully thought out approach. The colours on the canvas can, and invariable do have a propensity to arrange themselves; this has been called pictorial and consists in the harmonies within the picture arising out of the contrasts. This “natural” arrangement has to be avoided if we want the work to be objective, it is compelling as a work of art not for what it says but for how it is painted. Only in this way is it possible for the colours to enter another internal dialogue, which make them belligerent to the point of requiring the intervention of the artist. In a painting there should only be two elements present: the paint, as colour, whichever, and the evidence of time, the length of time which that patch of colour has needed to establish itself on the picture plane in function of and according to the express intentions of the artist. In these brushstrokes there should also be imbedded, line and colour and both absorbed and annulled the notion of a light source as a generation of chromaticity and shape, which would be improper of a modern concept of colour.
In the case of Pablo Rey time should not be confused with gesture, but responds instead to the individual demands of each brushstroke, either fast or slow depending on the energy needs of each, applied economically, with the colour imposing its will in any given moment or context, leaving aside the technique used, be it oil, acrylic, ink or whatever. Dispassionate and active in each and every one of the chromatic elements present or in the linear incisions, a distinction which should only allude to the ample physicality of the colour present. Because painting becomes, in this first phase of the pictorial work of Pablo Rey, something which is not born as an internal obligation – the less conscious the better, psychology should be avoided so as to make neither dramatic nor comic (expressionism) that whose presence is only needed as colour – but as painting that asserts itself as the simple presence of colours on a flat surface.
In the making of the picture, in the process, at the same time as the artist attends to the demands of the colours that appear in the space, the exterior reality that envelope it also affects him and intervene, with or without his acquiescence, distorting a colour or chromatic field, since whoever is painting, or uses the colours, is a being who feels and is affected by what happens around them. The picture is absolutely free, growing from and for itself, but needing in this in progress that someone, the artist, helps it develop and, in so doing, the imponderables intervene which appear in the work. Suddenly the artist realizes that that emanation of colours doesn’t only show off the work, which is the essential thing, but also speaks of the world, in the way each has of feeling and understanding it. Seeing the picture, each of us gives priority to our own conflict. That chromatic freedom to which Velázquez was progressing, now, in our time, finds itself once again in jeopardy, because colours refuse to stay anymore on their support. But one thing was the old figurative restriction and quite another the new way of seeing the world of whoever makes the work or observes it and in so doing imposes their presence and their personality.
As a result of this each picture is different, each piece obeys its own circumstance, not only that of the artist but also that of whoever stands unprejudiceded before the painted space. These painted spaces – the great innovation contributed by informalism – describe whoever looks at them: what they talk about is what there is inside whoever is doing the observing.
The artist has given the name of this current series as Estados complementarios, giving the impression of a struggle which in each work is forged by the sole presence of the colours and before and by whom they are being observed. I must confess, because of this circumstance, some of my projections before this work: in that which is titled Estados complementarios 020, I glimpsed the same amiable severity which Velázquez gave his portrait of Inocencio X; in this picture, the colours which have been set free by the artist, have arranged themselves into two large areas, that of the reds and that of the whites, in a way which is determined by the subject, and if the artist has fought – and one can see this in each of the brushstrokes – the perceptual culture of the time has ended up imposing itself in the same way as the prejudice of the artist himself transformed the reputed affability of his eminence portrayed in the work. In my attempted representation of the present work, those very same colours have found their freedom, they have positioned themselves where they want to be, even while maintaining an ongoing struggle against the will of the artist, which exercises its control in keeping alive a magnificent vigour (like in the painting of Velázquez, but is now, is without prejudice, and is free). The other piece is number 017; I have leaned toward La fragua de Vulcano, though it could equally refer to Menipo; the saffron yellows have inclined me towards it. Perhaps in the work of Rey there are more blues than in that of Velázquez, though I believe this is due more than anything to the careless nature of time which has diminished it. But the atmospheric colour of the background and the simplified treatment of the human forms are the same as that which has been created by the current artist; with the distinct advantage that our painter has been able to express the idea in pictorial terms and not just as a story which had to be told or as a pretext to allow the artists to express themselves. Rey is now able to confront the colours and show them as they are, organized by themselves, and at the same time respecting the creative will of the artist. Seeing, feeling and contemplating; herein lies the essence of painting.