One can only perceive the effect light has on a surface, a face, for example, through perceptible phenomena in shadows and subtle nuances. Often, it provides sufficient consciousness of its existence to make what one could behold, potentially, visual palatable. Every nominal object that can be perceived, whether it is the outline of an object, or a figure, offers viewers the opportunity to perceive something, analogous to seeing. Inevitably, in psycho-economic terms, it is a matter of giving and receiving: one can either ignore or simply not perceive what is presented, or one can turn one’s attentions to reading what merits looking at, within its context. This context is one of admiring what we desire in others or, without hesitation or shame, worshipping what we see.
Unfortunately, what we see is often clouded by the fact that things in this world are all burdened by the rules that provide them with a sense of order: numbers, dimensions and appellations. Certainty, provided by neatly labelling everything, simply cannot be achieved. These qualia, ineffable, intrinsic, and privately conscious perceptions, can be used to educate us further, to then create a relationship, however it is established, with what is considered to be “other”. The normally metaphysical, imperative-seeming presence, with lustful eyes, rarely contain much visually. It is intended to remind us of something similar, providing an opportunity for ideas, and the imagination, to wander. This makes briefly glimpsed potential seem tempting, as it is, at the same time, determinative. A gaze, and then recognition, is a means of celebrating the past by evoking figures from long-forgotten memories. This act of making what had been abandoned become visible again in fantastic forms is one of the tricks our consciousnesses like to play on us. Such very individual means of production are sometimes recognised as being repetitive, calling the logos of such eidetic valences into question.
The power of such nominal volume, promising longed-for feelings of control and supposed innovation inherent in fantasy offers norms and limits through which the world we see can then be described and explained. What appears between light shone on a surface and the gaze cast refer to the manner in which the outside world makes itself absent, covered, albeit lightly, from the lack of a gaze cast on it, under the aegis of what could be beheld. That which is beheld only notices that being an image to whoever is beholding it when provided with a means of comprehending the mysterious hermeneutic of being eidetic, questioning the logic in said images. This can only be achieved when, in the act of visually perception and, therefore, in its individual means of producing images, the options of how one interprets visual information pays sufficient attention to the phenomenology of encounters with what is “other”. Only when one goes beyond the level of recognition can one preserve the dignity of what one sees. The same applies to what is invisible, that which accesses memory and fantasy in the phenomenal realm, such as taste or atmosphere, as well as other senses, basic means of understanding beyond language.
In the shadows, there’s the risk that a figure could emerge, illuminated. Shadow play lacks substantiality; in it, there are creatures from the hereafter, otherworldly. Their invisible world remains a chimera to us. Outlines of shadows are like the holes in light. They give the composition of light, which is merely an intangible shadow, incomprehensible, an uncannily animated and autonomous existence. What can be viewed or made visible are multi-valued valences of images that resemble some physiognomically recognisable shape that have been purposefully removed from their own outlines.
This is, in its shadows, not only what one sees, but also an outline, assisting it to be removed from the surface it emerges from, provided with characteristics that whoever is there to behold can actually perceive. Yet, woe be unto those who take a scissor to follow the contours of a drawing and cut it out! The risk involved in such an undertaking is best described by a German expression that states that “it’s better to cut something out than it is to destroy it entirely”, which would apply here. Such activity suggests removal from the reality of gazes that meet, and provides access to a sphere of being unto one’s self (dasein), self-contained. This makes it possible to perceive the reality of “otherness” in the world: seeing is dependent on what we’re accustomed to seeing. By cutting out what has been drawn, the material counters the moral and aesthetic impetus of the nominal possibility of portraiture, allowing the ethical and aesthetic dimension of creating a picture to become the focal point of the process.
Tania Bedriñana’s installations are, essentially, compositions of silhouettes of elements specific to her. Whether drawn or painted, her figures are always realised on a white surface. Usually, Bedriñana works with watercolour, which expresses the intensity, indeed, a reduction to the essence of painting itself. The application of the outlines of her figures intensifies the organic quality of the painting’s valences. This lends the drawings a pre-meditated and practised fluidity. The flow of the contours merges with the background, while the brushstrokes within the figures are filled with details that vie with other for the viewers’ attentions. This is expressed in the dramatic nature of the act of drawing or painting with force, emphasizing each impulse with which the artist applies each line. This either creates effects imbued in each brushstroke, or surprising, even shocking moments. It both, surprisingly, contains effects and lulls the viewer into a state of reflection and, then suddenly, even shockingly, rushes into the day and now.
Amidst calm scenes, chockfull of details that are intricate and beautiful to behold, there’s suddenly a banal morsel of evil or lurking danger that baffles the viewer. Since Tania Bedriñana cuts pieces out, layering them like plastic film, these elements take on a 3-dimensional quality, which is further supported by the sensuality of how she installs the elements, as fragile, drawn surfaces floating on walls. In contrast to what the term silhouette usually implies, i.e. contrasts and rhetorically-influenced means of narration, Bedriñana’s work is reminiscent of unspeakable scenes or stills. They are phenomenal as time suddenly stands still, stretched, until it induces pain. The resulting effect, of diachrony, confuses viewers, as it is evocative of hidden primal effects, or moments of violence. Nonetheless, the events portrayed are neither spectacular nor calculated; each cut-out is imbued with genuine painterliness, intense emotion breathed into every brushstroke applied.
Prof. Dr. Ferenc Jádi
Author, Dortmund University and Munich Academy of Arts
(Translation: Deborah Phillips)