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Essay by Vicente Pascual for his
Nómadas exhibition catalogue at Galería Edurne, Madrid Spain, 1994

The normal man has an innate conviction that the world cannot be reduced to a system of formulae and measures, but routine life tends to imprison us in an increasingly coldly practical world. He senses that life is not limited to a series of accidents and random events, but the world tends to weaken us, involve us in a life that is increasingly in disarray, which is fiercely arbitrary.

Inertia leads us in two typical directions: a hardening of the heart or mental disarray and confusion. During the last few decades various forms of art representing these two tendencies have alternated their predominance; first the pendulum seems to swing towards a rationalist rigor lacking in creative freedom, a rigid form of art, then it seems to turn back towards a type of passional intuitionism lacking in intelligence, hopelessly chaotic.

But art makes sense precisely because man has the need to free himself from the ego which restrains him and the world which fragments him. Through creation, he exteriorizes what he loves or knows in order to interiorize and assimilate it through a process of objectivation. As a reflection of that process of internal alchemy, that great art which has no place on the canvas, the finished picture will have accomplished its purpose for the artist, but according to its perfection, the work will, like an echo, arouse a memory of the archetypes in the receptive viewer.

The art of the nomadic peoples --the Touareg, the Native Americans, the Mongols and others-- stands out for the balance it maintains between a sober, rigorous observance of artistic principles and a joyful freedom, the music of the soul. It is a powerful art, immediate and participatory, far removed from any type of theorizing and profoundly universal. Among the various styles belonging to the different ethnic groups one can easily recognize the same symbols, identical references to the archetypes; nothing could be further from the small-minded aspirations of many present-day artists who believe themselves to be original by expressing their "interesting" personalities, than the work of these peoples who are linked to space, as reflection of the spiritual world, and to an awareness of death.

The admiration which I have for the artistic expression of the "primitive" peoples which has|shaped my work for the last few years, has become obvious as my paintings have been stripped of the veil, the landscape's forms which covered them. In this sense it might be appropriate to say that what arouses my interest is not the peculiarity of any particular ethnic group, but the universal element which they have in common. This is what produces an echo in my being and rebounds in a form of expression which is shaped by my artistic development, a European education, by a set of experiences and memories. As Basho might have said: "I do not follow the ancient nomads, I am looking for what they were searching for."


Vicente Pascual
Bloomington, Indiana,|1994


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