Extract of “La pintura de Maricela Salas: color, figura y movimiento”
Naturally, when someone meets an artist in their shop, even more so when she works from home, one also meets the personage, her family, her pets; one can see her car parked on the sidewalk and a number of everyday facts that divulge about her life, taste and aspirations. However, for those of us who want to know the work on its own right, as a product of artistic creativity, these things are of no importance; they pose a threat, because evaluating them would be to submit to the realms of subjectivity, of affection and affinities, the personal relationships, the pre-judgments, the entire and ambiguous bundle that is the human mind. To me, in this particular case, this is of no interest, for in the next paragraphs I shall endeavor to speak of something materially spiritual, which is art.
In one of her most recent works, the human figure gains a new power in numbers: “La Última Gota de la Humanidad” (2015), presents human’s collective scream of anguish and impotence used to revert the tragedy around him. A white ribbon frames a painting with numbers that stop on the fatal 43, a number that will forever mark the memory of the Mexican people. At the top, just where the ribbon’s ends meet, a female face appears heralding two long arms that hang down giving refuge to the many bodies in the centre of the composition. The images of the mothers of the 43 students possess that signature aesthetic so characteristic of Maricela Salas, but in contrast to the characters that we appreciated in her past, in this painting they display pain in an array of ways: they scream, howl, cry, or grind their teeth in silence, close their eyes or pray so they can assimilate the internal pain that becomes at once collective. Their disappeared children are present in their bodies, postures, expressions, achieving a painting that mirrors and reveals the essence of this tragedy with a magnitude that shocks. This contemporary composition clearly manifests the heights reached by the evolution of her figures.
Xabier F. Coronado
September 21, 2015
A Mexican in Switzerland
Maricela arrived in Switzerland from Mexico about 8 years ago.
My first meetings with her took place in the context of intercultural events aimed at the integration of foreigners,“the others”, with national Swiss artists. Her creations shown on these occasions had a strong impact on me. Over the years, and our meetings, I discovered the richness of the creativity of this artist: sometimes disconcerting, sometimes fascinating, different, foreign, and at the same time, very familiar.
What should I emphasize from my impressions in a few lines?
First of all, she applies a wide range of techniques on various materials- paper, canvas, fabric, cardboard, and so on. I am particularly fascinated with her books, called “palimpsests”, which are ancient parchments, or writings, on which people have written more than once and retain, more or less, the remains of the original text or texts. “Palimpsests” are old books bought at a flea market, whose pages are then decorated with drawings, paintings, thoughts, carvings, collages, through which we can see the original text, underlined, torn, colored and so reread by the image.
Her works use a richness of color, often very bright and very contrasting in a Latin American way, and very warm: a poetic hymn to the colors of life, varied and contrasting a deep blue in which there is a risk of losing ourselves, a pale green of hope, reds like the blood running through our veins. Even her human beings have different colors, depending on the situation, as colorful life paints them.
With these color schemes, there is always an element of humor: not a superficial joy that overrides reality. Her themes can be tragic, but the suffering is not silent. Suffering of imprisonment, hatred, and contempt, sometimes making “tears that are black.” But it is the nature of humor in the tragicomedy of her work, expressed in multiple ways, that gives us the breath of life force to resist and drives us to a dance of elevation, allowing us to go talk to the stars in search of hidden dreams. On the Mexican Day of the Dead, Maricela shared this humor at the intersection of tragedy and comedy, and we experienced the colorful and happy celebrations of peaceful purpose!
Tragicomedy is the human condition. Even if elephants, snakes, turtles or whales sometimes appear in Maricela’s paintings, humans are everywhere: small, large, women, men, children- rarely alone, rather in pairs or groups. What is puzzling is that they are elongated and skinny… with trunks and limbs stretched a bit like Alberto Giacometti’s figures. They are often bare, reduced to essentials. Is this a way to express that life does not allow us to sit quietly and gain weight? Maricela’s humans are always in motion, dedicated to activities that are the fabric of human life: they walk, eat, jump, dance, trust, hope, love, caress each other, take in each other and gather together.
This Mexican woman will leave us soon. She will return to her country with her family, and the goodbye will cost us a few tears. We will remember that those tears might be “drops of humanity”. If I look, inside these “drops of humanity”, there is room for many humans: blacks,whites… in summation, “others”- always “others”: a character with his back turned, wearing a pointed hat slightly torn, but fitted with a star and the arm raised as if to say goodbye. Is this artist about to leave? But happily, she leaves us her drops of humanity.
And you, Maricela…You and your moods, you and your generosity, you make us breathe the inner child that emerges through your painting.
You remind us of what lies behind our fears, our doubts, and our emotions.
On the canvas, you print your symbols, you lend them to us so we can get to know us better, to understand us and accept us.
As a fluid, you give us the strength of your feelings and of your convictions.
You also allow us to read the messages, in which, with evidence, we recognized ourselves.
You tear down all hierarchies, each of your characters is a sensitive being that grows, and learns from mistakes, a sort of acrobat who seeks balance and references.
Each one of your paintings suggests us tolerance; they call for respect and simplicity.
To dispose of false pretenses; to pay a tender look on the others, on their difference or their condition.
Derechos Reservados para Maricela Salas • México 2018 •