Activities, exhibitions and projects

Carmen Laffón: La sal

Carmen Laffón: La sal

CAAC | Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo

Image: Carmen Laffón. Salinas de Bonanza, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Relieve. Image Claudio del Campo

La sal (Salt) by Carmen Laffón (Seville, 1934) brings together a dozen large-format pieces recently produced by the artist. Laffón shows an interest in observing the place, an exercise in which the desire to narrate does not exclude powerful emotional content. This has been the tone since those outstanding drawings and paintings produced on the Isla de la Cartuja in the late 1960s, in which an eminently modern, even political, mood was revealed in her assertive commitment to the real. The pieces brought together in the exhibition provide us with an equally attentive look at the salt flats of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz; hence the title. The area at the mouth of the River Guadalquivir, between Cadiz and Huelva, and with the Doñana Nature Reserve as a motif and privileged witness of the picture, is the place from which the artist has displayed her loosest and freest painting. It is also the most ambitious, as the formats she employs here are unusually large. The paintings in concentrated shades of grey and those in fiery blue reveal an interest in serial work and focus on the careful study of certain places – the salt flats  which are perhaps not the most common motif in the tradition of landscape painting. This is where her modernity lies. The paintings may perhaps belong more to the field of photography, but the importance of the workmanship and the material distances them from the objective nature of photography.

In Carmen Laffón’s latest painting the horizon plays an essential role. There is nothing like sitting in front of the mouth of the River Guadalquivir, facing the Doñana Nature Reserve, to perceive the powerful horizontal axis that presides over the scene. If in the images of the Nature Reserve, produced over almost a decade from 2005 to 2014, the horizon was already the main player in pictures of the same format characterized by a melancholic treatment of the image, these latter pictures delve into the geographical uniqueness of the landscape, modelled by centuries of historical vicissitudes that have conditioned the physical, economic and social situation of the area. Laffón thus links up to those early works from the 1960s that dealt with the transformations of the Island of La Cartuja in Seville, and thus revitalizes her relationship with the landscape, which from untiring activity transcends the conventions of the genre.

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