SYMBOLOGY AND GOLD LEAF IN MARÍA JOSÉ GALLARDO
Aug 1, 2018
Visiting the work of María José Gallardo is, at times, like entering a second-hand market, finding a space between its shelves and collecting the strangest things, most connected with the dark side of religion and death. Incomplete tarot decks, unpaired earrings, faded metal boxes, cracked photos, crosses and skulls, make up a sample of dissonant elements that, in the work of this artist, acquire meaning and entity. It is an invitation to an initiatory journey, a way that confronts us with an unexplored part of our minds and that often wakes up before the vividness of a memory.
Her artistic proposal is based on a mixture of styles that plays with the misunderstanding and the multiple possibilities of painting, such as her work "You may not be luminous, but you are a conductor of light" where pixelated vegetable motifs are identified, which could seem a blur cross-stitch embroidery or a 17th-century tapestry framed between scrolls of gilded wood. His pieces rarely include a single element. They are presented as allegories of the complexity of human thought itself, of the warp of ideas and sensations that link us with the object reality of our environment, and which the artist represents with an aesthetic that feeds on Rococo and Horror Vacui, on the Baroque religious imagery and contemporary illustration based on sharp contrasts and angular contours.
Although throughout her career María José has worked on several proposals with different and even risky themes, such as the series dedicated to Hitler and Nazism, an essential aspect of her work is the presence of the symbol. It is that element capable of condensing immaterial values that the social-individual attributes to the object. Many of her works recover those meanings, which go from the esoteric to the earthly, from the connections with religious beliefs to their projection on more mundane and materialistic aspects such as representations of power, wealth or social position. María José addresses these issues, respecting to a large extent the traditional depiction of these spheres, which preserve their particular aesthetic and whose artistic tradition goes back to the beginnings of iconography (religious or not) in the West. For this reason, the recourse to gold leaf and the reproduction of spaces of worship, such as cathedrals or temples, has a deep connection with spirituality and the way in which the collectives have transferred this spirituality to tangible reality.
The works of the exhibition "In the enchanted forest" are a catalogue of magical beings, those who inhabit the usual corners of fairy tales and who make their appearance among branches of flowers and rays of light. But true to her style, María José displays all her pictorial potential in these pieces, which do not hide a dark side that faces the hackneyed "happy-ending". A narrative is thus constructed closer to the original story of Brothers Grimm. Her proposal looks at us frankly and offers a less truculent and real vision of the history in which we are all invited to participate.