Gabriela Bettini

Painting and the Interstitial Space

In not a few occasions the void ceases to be a neutral space. For some years this has been happening with the history of art, appearing it was already written, it has become a suitable space for the development of new narratives, for the rescue of several stories that had remained hidden, when not buried, invisible. Today, more than ever, it is obvious that there are many histories of art to be build, from the generic perspective, from the race, or from other disciplines less considered in former times. Something that has been missed in the history of art is a variety of structures in its development, since it is not about a sequence of chronological evident facts, but the apprehension of intermediate spaces that appeared doomed to become no places.; although this quality of the intermediate is precisely what transforms it in an interesting stage for the differences. In this interstitial space, the exercise of scrutinize its fissures and cracks, where the art is upheld nowadays and, in this sense, Jacques Rancière is right when he applies the notion of intermediate to the aesthetic field concluding that the contemporary art precisely inhabits in this traffic.

Following Ranciére’s conclusion we can say that the contemporary art appropriates the language to question what an image “says” and what a description “makes you see”. Although not using the writing, it is this experience and reality decoding, as problem, as a neutral space, that Gabriela Bettini’s work dominates, questioning the forms of cultural colonization through one of the classic genres of painting, the landscape. This is a landscape that works as a displacement or metaphor of the violence suffered by the female activists in Latin America, since femicide against women concern with defending natural resources has been occurred in those landscapes. In this way a gender perspective, hidden at a first glance, emerges in a complex network giving a meaning to the words of María Zambrano when she talks of a pure absence that allows all presences, and all complaints.

For certain people, Gabriela Bettini’s decision of using the most hegemonic mean of the art history for it, the painting, can result contradictory, but to the very contrary this deliberate option allows her to take a further step and the decision of projecting those ideas through painting emphasizes this fortune of the marginal situation of a woman as an artist, that since until the beginning of the 20th century, felt the urge to reflect the intimate in her paintings, as if the personal was the only female context, forcibly moving away from the “great painting”. Personally, for years I wondered the reason why there were not many female painters without realizing that we all have been involuntary accomplices and part of the problem when it was time to build the history and the opportunities. Those situations drove many female artists to “paint like a man”, as Estrella de Diego notes in Women and Nineteenth-Century Spanish Painting, a strategy that aimed, in the first instance, the legitimation that wouldn’t be achieved in another way.

In this case, these are a series of landscapes apparently idyllic, but its titles emphasize the importance of the condition of place: Pernambuco/San Rafael de las Flores, Pernambuco/Maranhão, Repoussoir or Olinda/San Rafael de las Flores. This representation of landscape works more as a collage, but also as a pictorial assembling of experiences and fragmented memories. It also hides two very distinct times, one past reflecting a colonial and naïve gaze from who captures the image with its prejudices and stereotypes, and other from the artist’s critical view. The painting hides behind the image. Also, there is nothing better than the painting to visually capture the dominant thought of each historical moment, our way of observing.

In this way the painting declines a happening, assuming the three artistic identification regimes that Rancière senses in the occidental culture. On one side, the ethic regime of the images, that would be the one where those appear chained to the achievement of a function -here it becomes evident that the representation is determined by the achievement of certain purposes.

On the other side, the poetic or representational regime, that would be the one where the image adopts a symbolic function, where it regards to another; a distance would exist for both, a difference between what it is and what appears represented. And here the image is full of subjective meanings, of interpretations. The theme is covered by a veil, assuming a load of symbols to transform itself in something else, different. At least, the aesthetic regime would be the one where the art, or the images, come around themselves. It would be a regime where those try to disconnect from the other, where a system with its own laws is created, with its own determinations, a self-referential regime.

Gabriela Bettini’s work is rigorous and methodical dealing with issues like feminism, ecology and colonialism, as well as the violence that accompany those fights. Situated in this intermediate space generated from two fictions -pictorial and historical- and a truth –the one which the artist assumes from the personal experience-, those landscapes are not exactly landscapes, once the image takes us much further than what is offered by the framing, displacing the temporal axis not only through the colonial past but to the future as an ambiguous and open possibility constructed in a continuous present. Giving stronger voice to the silence is the matter, extricating ourselves from it.

Among contemporary painters, just a few have gone so far when representing the irrepresentable as Gerhard Richter or Luc Tuymans, that are inspired by the photography to open a singular way to see and represent walking towards the image destruction, bothering our audience view with pictorial effects that look for a sense of a moved framing. The memory and its apprehension difficulties distill from the blurriness, what makes access to the image difficult. The photography is a way to apply distance when penetrating the real and in Gabriela Betitini’s case, the blurriness is, precisely, the intermediate space time, the distance among place, facts, paintings inspired by Frans Post or photography regarding its representation. Because the history of art, increasingly, is a liquid path, and Gabriela Bettini’s figurative paintings, apparently classical and kind, are troubled traffic surfaces between the barbarity memory and the present of patriarchal oppression; in essence, painting before image.

Pintura y espacio instersticial, David Barro

David Barro. 2019