« A knot traces a one-dimension path in a three dimension variety in order to connect one or zero or three dimension elements. One has to imagine folds, invaginations, deliciously complex situations that generalize the practice and notion of knot to all possible dimensions 1 ». Michel Serres Painting is still surprising us. Although its agony has been announced throughout the second half of the XXth century, many artists have stayed faithful to this medium and kept working on its infinite shapes. Julián Aragoneses, rising artist of the Spanish artistic scene, shows in his work that painting is still very strong, in its utmost abstract form. Inspired by the Abstract Expressionist movement, denounced at the time as the precursor movement of the end of painting, Julián Aragoneses works on spontaneous rhythms developed through a whole new artistic process, in which the work structure is unpredictably constructed through the use of tangled up lines. Julián Aragoneses’ art is about working on destruction and reconstruction. Destruction in art used to be metaphoric or symbolic, whereas destruction in the artist’s work is for real. By cutting bits and pieces of burlap sack which are then hung to a frame, in order to be prepared for the next step of the process, the artist appears as an executioner, leaving traces of violence on the edges. The possible metamorphosis of a material is here experienced; from solid and resistant, the burlap is transformed into sad pieces. « The artist’s work is in the choice of his raw material; in his ingenuity to prepare disorganization; to find instruments, fire or thunder, that will give this material its multiple expressivity 2 » said Eugène Ionesco. Thunder is indeed used here, in a wish to get rid of the forces of the chosen raw material. Julián Aragoneses’ work stands beyond artistic movement of destruction from the 60’s with main character Jean Tinguely, who destroyed works of art made of recycling objects, sometimes creating machines programmed to destroy (one will remember Rotozaza III in 1969, constructed for a mall inBern, and created to break into pieces everysingle plate from the store, twelve thousand pieces!). Furthermore, Julián Aragoneses’ creation is far away from Land Art, in which elements transformed the work into a short life production. Aragoneses’ work is also very different from pieces by Lucio Fontana, who cut his canvases one or several times, in order to question the existence of the canvas in its materiality and artistic space. Julián Aragoneses has the particularity of destroying in order to reconstruct. This reconstruction operates through the knot, which is at the heart of his creation. The knot appears as « the most ancient technical symbol and the expression of the first cosmogonical ideas in population3». Through this return to old techniques, and by bringing together bits and pieces of burlap, the order comes back, in a different way, creating something new between two parts of burlap that meet again, in these endless paths that takes each direction of knot. These moldable burlap pieces create a strength expressed through the powerful knots, almost unbreakable. A weft is brought to life, looking like a material on its own, with the appearance of a spider’s web. Therefore, there is a stake in abyss of the original burlap sack, made of infinite links, widen to the extreme in order to see every knot that composes it. Beyond reconstruction, a reconstitution is done. This reconstitution gives a fundamental part to the full and the empty. Full parts are composed of a mix of extended burlap bits, completed by empty parts left between each line. A union is created between these two opposites, one enhancing the other and vice versa. Like abstract contemporary sculpture, from which Julián Aragoneses’ work is not far away, the empty comes to life, becoming a constructive value. The emptiness is completed by a colored background, which prevents the viewer’s eye of getting lost in the depth of the work, and brings it back to the foreground. Therefore, the emptiness of depth enhances the work made of knots. Emptiness does not appear as a loss, but as a constructive element of the artist’s work. The complete dissolution from the pictorial plan brings the artist to explore new expressive ways, creating bi-dimensionality in the piece of art, between the background and the work on knots. Due to spatial effects of this tangled up material, Julián Aragoneses manages to create a third dimension, which brings him closer to sculpture. This stimulation of the possibilities of material refers to the great Spanish artistic tradition and especially to Antoni Tàpies, whose work greatly inspired Julián Aragoneses. With this new approach of painting, operating through destruction and reconstruction, a great evolution is happening in Julián Aragoneses’ work, approaching sculpture and announcing a change in contemporary creation. 1 Michel Serres, in Florence de Mèredieu, Histoire Matérielle et Immatérielle de l’Art Moderne, Paris, éditions HER-Larousse, 1999, p. 205. 2 Eugène Ionesco, in Roger Caillois, Cases d’un échiquier, Paris, p.195. 3 Gottfried Semper, quoted in Viallat, Catalogue, Paris, p.13.


Aurelie Didier
Text Catalogue Individual Exhibition Paris 2009