Radicalism in Drawing back
Prof. Dr. Ferenc Jádi, 2012

In her early exhibitions in Berlin and its vicinity, Tania Bedriñana came known as a painter of murals, who prepares her wall surfaces punctually hewing or semi-plastically scraping out material straining the surface excessively to the limit of its identity. She makes the surface undergo a chromatic transformation to a painted body, an actual incarnation of its creation. Similarly, she dealt with the elements of large-sized cut-outs that she composed from extensively treated paper or from specially prepared textiles. This affect-laden mode of production, which visualizes an emerging process, only seems to aim at a narration. In fact, however, the first rough then superfine working technique, which exposes the intimate core (intima) of the surface, testifies the process beyond any narration. Contemplating, Tania Bedriñana questions the actual event: what happened to you, what happened with and among us? Artists of importance answered these fundamental questions of the history of events with the suitable treatment of material, with the formation of a highly individualistic way of creating – in short their own style – and not with illustrating drama or prosody, nor with alluding to narrative content. Not until then the pictorial visible can lead us to the invisible of images, otherwise it would be subordinated to the language of images.

From linear drawings in her earlier works to later oil paintings Tania Bedriñana excessively rubs in the paint until the substantial material of the support starts to fray out, felt, or even almost starts to dissolve. This very much corresponds to the means of production she used for the textiles of her cut-outs, which she penetrated with sharp tools or sandpaper, preparing the coloured incarnation of the surface. This technique raises all narration of a figurative image onto another level of understanding: the level of testimony. Thus, the applied trace of colour is similarly raised onto the level of the martyr.

On the basis of all these groups of works lies Tania Bedriñana’s expertly draughtsmanship, which is deeply imbued with the nature of this genre’s historic tradition. In the history of draughtsmanship the drawing, creating moving figures, as a testifying witness and forerunner pointing the way ahead is sacrificed in the preparatory drawing of a painting. Degrading the trace in drawing to a passive eyewitness and, thus, turning the actual tractum into the histor, the painting becomes the actual trace, which cloaks the artefact like a vestis. In fact, it becomes a martyr, hero and victim at once. Here, all those traces become visible which reveal the artist’s passions, his lows and highs, or his fall, his loud scream and his quietness in the final work of art. The process of creating, which makes visible the image with all pictorial power, confronts, however, any seeing viewer with the question of the image’s meaning beyond the obvious and throws him directly into the artist’s world. Probably, artists and philosophers have always known that painting most easily could deteriorate to an art of illusion. This was never a threat to draughtsmanship since its non-imitational character was evident for those who look at a drawing with the necessary sensitivity. When the emancipated panel painting became relatively autonomous in the Renaissance the artist’s drawing came to be considered as a testimonial of artistic authority. Until today the graphic revelation of an artistic talent and the unquestionable of individuality are the artists’ most dangerous weapons. In fact, the bareness of the drawing forces even the most cunning artists in the history of art to reveal their armouries. In the graphic creation works of enduring value are separated from the ephemeral of history; the famous temporary or fashionable and seemingly important works from the important works of epoch-making value.

In presenting selected drawings in this exhibition, Tania Bedriñana gives evidence for the technical and imaginative source of her creative production and competes with those who enriched as well as drastically questioned this genre with their works. Here she stands for an immanent radicalism with all its consequences. But what is this radicalism in realizing a specific drawing act? Habitual recognition that emerged from Western avant-garde Modernism understands the term “radicalism” in art as a new materiality, an extreme reduction of form or superficial expressiveness and hardly ever as radicalism of expression. Thus, in Modernism sensation, a figure’s formal or nominal aspects, technical refinement, aestheticism, the shocking, and even Kitsch were more appreciated than those works that contain an eidetic awareness. Tania Bedriñana’s graphic radicalism, which adds a delicate intimacy to the image and profoundly questions its calm and silence, intensely and vigorously visualizes that which lies beyond language and this world. Her work proves that any attempt to picture a miracle is doomed to fail. If, however, under the pressure of the mind’s determined productivity the imagination enables a passionately animated realization of the fictional, an image miracle might happen.

In Tania Bedriñana’s art there is an aspect of production that with its theme of textural expression and its pleasing aesthetical mode of thinking recalls the universality of childhood. The way children behave towards themselves and towards others, how they are able to transform their affects and emotional upheavals gracefully into emotional states or gestures, how they are taken up with their expressions and how they are able to question the evident and us as adults with our conventions – all this amazes and enchants us. Through grace the child forges a link between the visible and the spiritual, performing a mental process that is similar to the creative process. In the sensual perception and firmness during the application process an inner world might appear. Taking an unintended position leads the self to the other in the world as well as to the others. It also means, however, recollection, self-reflection, and contemplation. Thus, the child ventures out to an external space, fills it with real experiences as well as guilt until this space of being (dasein) becomes too small and the child starts to seek more space within it. The child fills this space further with fears and worries, desires and wishes until this world threatens to change into a labyrinth of logic and metric. In contrast, the child’s inner world remains a boundless world of possibilities where the sensuality of imagination is realized with silent wisdom of the individual will. Continuously, Tania Bedriñana is inspired by the sensual severity of the children’s play and the presence of their being-together. In her drawings, the grace of the children figures leads us into the world of these rather stubborn children, the enfants terribles. Their reality is fearless; they are bold and badly behaved. They are on the verge of grace, resentment, presumption, and boldness. While standing, sitting, laughing, and looking they are in motion but are merely moved inwardly. Tania Bedriñana explores the borderline of expression, too, expressing the emergence of an emotional phenomenon as desideratum, a fulfilment. Her figures want to know; they want to find the source of the mysteries of the world they experience or approach, into which they were thrown.

In good faith children are usually protected from truth. Like a treasure of its inner world the child (even the “learned infant”) conceals under the fine veil of shame that it knows about evil. This worth-preserving act of veiling the truth in images or words, which also merely imply ideas or empty objects, separates the expression from the expressed. In other words, the expression of truth is separated from linguistic or pictorial expressiveness. Tania Bedriñana provides the viewer with a figurative visual thinking that in this dimension leads beyond words to the core of one’s self. All aspects of one’s self are rendered invisible by visibility. If triviality of the obvious is impending, they are estranged and banished to the level of the “I.” We find traces of this process in the genesis of the expression movement as well as in the ideation of the act of expression. The graphic line easily transforms into contour. Thus, the testifying creating line – the trace of the drawing process – is concealed behind deictic intentionality. It is not discovered until the viewer comes to understand aesthetic creation with all its dangers. We should, therefore, concentrate first of all on the artistic realization of the drawings out of the profound flow of drawing and ordering style.

Wherever Tania Bedriñana uses the subtle affective differences of the tempered line in her linear drawings, she moves on the verge of graphic expression and graphic expressiveness. Linearity, intervals, breaks of a line, gaps, and entanglements are means of creating that bestow a liberating power on the drawing. Here, after every move linearity starts to play with the line’s valence of expression and to form a logical realm for the qualia of an aesthetic topos. In Bedriñana’s art the line’s emotional content is never superficial. The linear flow is based on an inner temporality, on the freedom of an immanent rhythm, which is never metric or calculated but freely structured, containing an animated imagination.

The evident radicalism of these drawings, their profound artistic character draws not upon dramatic effect, sensation, or coquetry but rather upon a radical reduction of expression indicating the complexity of truth beyond narration. On his threshold of shame the viewer apprehends himself, especially repressed elements of his self. The said radicalism, therefore, is based on the negation of expressing immanence with words, on annihilating the obviousness of visibility. Here, a world is created that shows a curious atmospheric density of being’s dark side. Already as a maker of silhouettes Tania Bedriñana searched for atmosphere in her works. A true master in this field, however, she became with her drawings. Atmosphere works with the attraction as such, challenging our senses and demanding our faith. It triggers an intimate sense of reading the traces of being-as-such, the intuitive recognition of the nature of being. In her radical drawing techniques, Tania Bedriñana uses this ability to constitute being at a moment when it shows the non-ephemeral of the ephemeral. Childhood signifies this dimension of human being. Its radicalism of consciousness can be expressed because it leaves inherent and persistent traces in each and everyone. Childhood’s atmosphere, especially the space of possibilities for a child’s play, is characterized by the fact that it operates with figures but can be understood neither by words nor by showing visible forms. It can only be experienced in uncovering the eternal traces of a gone being adding more to that, which can be seen or said. One cannot read relations out of images but conceives them in a synthesis of different moments of being. Tania Bedriñana has the ability to turn relations of indications, appearances, and make-believe figures into art. She places her painted fictions in an indistinct hereafter, which can be seen best in the peculiar relation of light and shadow in the dark drawings or in the expressive attitude of the children’s figures. Are these wise children in her dreams? Angels of a history of nightmares or figures of another world, which are more real than reality and yet unreal in that they add something more to being? This world is incredibly beautiful and yet it is true. Similarly, art created like this creates a world that – despite all resemblances to other worlds – is a world in which the viewer can disappear and encounter just himself or himself as a stranger.