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  • Reviews

    Abstract Painting by Lorenza Aranguren

    Suny Ramírez

    One of Jalisco’s outstanding abstract painters, her artistic career spans just over 25 years. From the time she first set aside all figurative references, she knew that her way would be that of a quest inward: delving as deeply into her psyche as into the painting itself. This is how her series of works have evolved, as testaments to a quest that never ends -- otherwise there’d be nothing left to seek -- but provides felicitous aesthetic and conceptual surprises at every turn. This catalog brings together the most important works from the artist’s various creative stages over the past eleven years: particularly, those featuring the encaustic technique. We should note that from the first her painting stood for strong and dynamic lines and use of color, resulting in lively and engaging work; later she explored the idea of urban spaces, and from there her painting turned toward the earthy and organic. Lorenza Aranguren rose to the challenge of encaustic, a technique requiring special skills because its principal element is wax or resin, generally used hot, so that you must work with great speed and dexterity. She began with Textures, where repeated incisions achieved a visual effect that was almost tactile, taking advantage of accidents and contrasts. The series titled after My name is red by Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel prize for Literature in 2006, extended the same warm tones that have characterized a large part of her work, though here red was obviously the focus, because -- as Pamuk says -- it’s everywhere, firing passions and quickening hearts. In the series Silencios, ‘heard silences’ she not only included letters but complete texts, with compositions entering a more conceptual ground. The most recent series is Without a glance, a group of pieces exhibited at the Arts Museum in 2011. Here several things are foremost: on the one hand the gradual distancing of the artist from so much color, limiting herself to black and a wide range of grays; on the other, her mastery of encaustic and oil, so that she can freely but very skillfully play with impulsive and dynamic lines, challenging the viewer to walk by “without a glance”, without feeling some strong feeling of taking-or-leaving them. Another notable aspect of this work is the attention Lorenza Aranguren pays to those who literally cannot see, proposing a tactile-visual reading of the Bible in Braille, along with a set of blind strokes on pages from the telephone book. Instinctive impulse, pressing need, over the top and under control, broad and precise gestures, and an insatiable creativity that leaps from artistic materials, media or studio-space: these are the distinctive features of Lorenza Aranguren, an artist of soaring flight and wide horizons whose each new series will no doubt surprise us. In this catalog, the University of Guadalajara Arts Museum wishes to provide a record and witness to Lorenza Aranguren’s distinctive art; a proposal for future generations of artists and their public. May they see that dedication to art not only requires talent, but a deep commitment to vision and discipline, to technical mastery and hard, tireless work; if one hopes to show works of the quality this Jaliscan painter has achieved, over five periods of five years each in the realm of the visual arts.

  • Silences made visible

    June 2009

    Lorenza Aranguren

    And we stay home. Work, remain inside. Say no to public places. There’s a new virus. “Stay at home, avoid going out.” One hears nothing else. No kisses or hugs. Something intangible, all around us. Where is it? There are so many dead. In silence, confinement. Look and look; they can’t be found. A tv series, a good or bad book, a good or bad conversation, a good or bad project. Not coughing, sneezing; calm, distance. Wash your hands, cover up, don’t come anywhere near me...

    We look sick, sick of selfishness, sick of panic, of pride. Keep your distance. From now on nothing will ever be the same. What sort of monsters have we become?

    This project titled Enclosure/Encierro consists of 31 brief chronicles, harboring the opinions of 31 people, their feelings when they had to forcibly withdraw, maybe to save their own or someone else’s life. These opinions are duly identified by their initials; a photo of the author confirming authenticity. The paper’s wrinkled, as if someone wrote something, went to toss it away because now it wouldn’t do, no longer mattered, they were done with it. I rescued them; considering them important I placed them inside acrylic boxes representing ‘model homes’ around the world. I arranged them in a circle to represent a spinning, dizzying twist of fate: and I faced them toward the mirror so they’d replicate over and over. This spinning directs the gaze toward an eternity in space and time.

  • Enclousure

    Looking beyond. Guadalajara, January 2011

    Francisco Javier Ibarra

    Artist Lorenza Aranguren’s most recent series of works springs from a dual purpose, without limits. Its very title (“Without a Glance”) is surely provocative, going beyond artistic mediation into the realm of sensual attack, ethical and aesthetic questioning, a voice that’s anything but abstract, howling in the desert of what’s ostensibly invisible; all its letters, all its paint layers forming a challenge: walk on by, without a glance

    In this exercise displaying her consummate artistry, Lorenza Aranguren turns painting into a medium that’s approachable: cautiously, via contemporary artistic language it offers reflections of the current human condition. Her work doesn’t allude, represent, allegorize; it simply views the world, but a world apparently blinded by its own conviction, or at least not quite disposed to take on the supreme responsibility, commitment, freedom and complicity that implies really seeing.

    From each painting in this pictorial array (it would be iniquitous and insensitive to label them abstract), what ‘pops’ in every direction is the glazing, functioning perfectly as a vehicle of transparency and visibility.These are compositions in chiaroscuro; a range of grays in frenzied flight, or incisive black-and-white tones. Nothing remains of those vigorous colors, that chromatic virtuosity from Lorenza Aranguren’s earlier canvases and series. As if they’d been stripped of their comforting and rhetorical protective mantle, in order to see — to see sketchily, with the eyes of hands and spirit, with the eternal eyes of art — and then to reach an epiphany, a new vision, a moment of dazzling confusion: her painting’s poetic intensity.

    In this sense, “Without a Glance” becomes a complete experience, almost alchemical, reaching vision’s inner sanctum, painting’s most expressive powers.

    Going against the current in a world where, as much-lauded Portuguese novelist José Saramago would say, “we’re blind, blind people who see; who seeing, don’t see”: this is also a world where images have become an incessant bombardment, a daily saturation and unavoidable dictatorship of political correctness. At every turn these images keep us from seeing ourselves as we really are — from seeing the real world -- as we respond to the blind logic of presentation and representation…

    Faced with such contemporary realities, Lorenza Aranguren decided to paint each of these works blindfolded, to work acrylic and wax sgraffito on canvas, blindly picking up brushes, palette knives, paintpots. Expressing thus all her rage, helplessness, “blindness”; her reflections, critical passion and urge to say what’s what: creating a many-faceted transfiguration that leaps joyfully into view, canvases flinging the light at us to remove some of our own blindfolds, revealing us to ourselves and sowing seeds of rebellion so we’ll look at life and the real world now with our own eyes, seeing what’s really important, what’s right in front of us, right beside us, what we almost always don’t want to see, what we walk by without a glance, whether actually or metaphorically.

    With this unsettling pictorial series, twenty pieces in various formats, Lorenza Aranguren re-asserts her aesthetic challenges, her contemporary artistic vision, her reflections upon the human condition. Without a doubt this transformative experience also acts upon us, we who view her works, as her paintings constitute an initiatory journey inviting us to look again, contemplate; pushing us to go beyond what’s most evident, past prejudices, the ego’s visible landscapes, our everyday blindness; in a word, Lorenza Aranguren shows us, through her irreverent canvases, a way to see beyond.

  • ...my name is red.


    Lorenza Aranguren

    With his book My Name is Red Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize winner in Literature for 2006, inspired me to assemble this new series: with it, I want to honor the color red.

    In one of the book’s chapters, Pamuk poses a key question that really interests me as a painter.

    What exactly is it, to be a color?

    Color has been a constant in my work, and for a long time there’s been an imperative need to express myself in red.

    Why? I don’t know, but maybe these encaustics bathed in red, or black and white with a touch of red, like those from the days of Ottoman Empire illustrators, called forth answers to a few questions… or maybe not. Artists never cease struggling to find themselves.

    What follows is me textually narrating some of the ideas from the Turkish literary genius.

    What does it mean to be a color?

    “Color is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness. Because I’ve listened to souls whispering – like the susurrus of the wind – from book to book and object to object for tens or thousands of years, allow me to say that my touch resembles the touch of angels. Part of me, the serious half, calls out to your vision while the mirthful half sours through the air with your glances. How happy I am to be red! I’m spirited and strong: I know I call attention to myself and they can’t resist me.”

    “I do not conceal myself: For me, delicacy manifests itself neither in weakness nor in subtlety, but through determination and will. So, I draw attention to myself. I’m not afraid of other colors, shadows, crowds or even of loneliness.”

    “How wonderful it is to cover a surface that awaits me with my own victorious being! Wherever I’m spread, I see eyes shine, passions increase, eyebrows rise and heartbeats quicken.”

    “Behold how wonderful it is to live! Behold how wonderful to see. I am everywhere. Life begins with and returns to me. Have faith in what I tell you. As I bring my color to the page, its as if I command the world to Be! Yes, those who cannot see would deny it, but the truth is that I can be found everywhere.”

  • Silences

    Lorenza Aranguren sets color aside

    The Pablo Guerrero Gallery’s exhibit of ten abstract canvases, marked by their shades of white

    It’s been awhile since artist Lorenza Aranguren has shown her work in Guadalajara’s exhibit spaces. She’s taken two years to think, write a lot, reflect and bid color adieu, abandoning above all the range of reds so evident in her last series. What’s resulted from this introspection is an exhibit of ten oils and encaustics, opening tonight in the Pablo Guerrero Gallery under the title of Silences.

    "Most people identify me with my highly-colored work, but I had the need to make something different, putting color aside (it was getting too ‘noisy’ for me) and delving really deep inside: which led to work that was more polished, cleaner color-wise,” says Aranguren, who in some of these pieces includes a daring brushstroke of red, or one or another shade of yellow.

    The origin of the Silences series dates from about a year ago, when the artist began painting a canvas entitled ‘The vulnerability of whiteness’: until then she’d never used the ‘absence of color’ so exclusively. “This work turned out to be an incredible battle,” she recalls, for while she began with various shades of black she found herself scraping and scraping, “and I spent like four months doing this canvas, until I finally touched down. I worked really hard, scraping off and painting back on, over and over. I was adding more white, different tones of white, and it wound up being a virtually all- white canvas. And that was great, because when I looked at it in the afternoon it had a different look from what it had in the morning, or when I lit it with halogen bulbs.”

    The title of the show is the result of a yearning Aranguren had then, “to give voice to the silence I had within, as if speaking of what arises in silence, a look, a handwritten letter...many things can lead you to hearing silences.”

    Faithful to abstraction

    Nearly two decades ago Lorenza Aranguren gave her first solo exhibit of abstract art, a style from which she’s never disengaged herself. Far from imitating reality through figurative art, what interests her is expressing subjectivity through her paintings, her artist’s inner realm; managing at times to directly transmit feeling through unrestricted color mixing, immersed in forms and brushstrokes that relate freely among themselves.
    “The abstract entertains me, I like it tremendously, it keeps me going. It’s an endless search, for sure. Within the figurative you’re always going to be limited, while abstraction is an ongoing quest: though it’s harder, and more complicated because you want to find strong balance, or sometimes a bit of nothingness. I like it a lot. I’ll definitely keep at it forever,” she says.


    Silences is Lorenza Aranguren’s second solo exhibit at the Pablo Guerrero Gallery; the first time it was an installation she titled Enclosure. That consisted of 31 small acrylic houses, each interior holding a wrinkled piece of note paper with someone´s thoughts on how life felt early last May in Jalisco s capital, when an influenza outbreak forced suspension of masses, restaurant and bar closures, obliged soccer games to be played without onlookers and caused nearly total paralysis of programmed cultural activities; all due to the health emergency. “By tucking the different opinions and thoughts people had inside houses, I convey the idea that we’re under lock and key in our homes. This installation also speaks quite a bit about eloquent silences, silences that say a lot,” the artist notes.

    ‘Enclosure’ is reflected in several of the works here too, as Lorenza Aranguren, by including a tiny house, gives a wink and a nod to figurative art.

  • Life’s arrow

    February 2004

    Francisco Javier Ibarra

    By its very nature a genuine voyage means taking risks, as does true artistic creation, or a life profoundly-lived. Going beyond the foreseeable, the planned, what’s been sketched out by an invisible hand to mark the hours. Intuition, the knowledge that by escaping tourist routes as we travel, we’ll arrive at an understanding and feeling for a place. Seeking, creating one’s own language may mean truly expressing the shape and content of what can be communicated via artistic media. By living and remaining conscious of our capacity to choose, we make sense of our individual and shared paths upon the earth. In other words, we believe that there’s always ‘something more’ that moves, seduces, captivates and makes way for new possibilities.

    From this perspective, Lorenza Aranguren’s exhibit titled DNA is a risk consciously and freely taken by the Jaliscan artist, who’s wholly consumed by her will to create, eager to play, to experiment, to walk life’s tightrope, to research in painterly terms the source and the outcome, to thumb her nose at chance, to go beyond.

    In these paintings oil and wax co-exist, reds and ochres, greens and oranges, black and white, searching and finding, excess and balance, chance and exactitude. Lorenza Aranguren portrays a journey along vital access roads, via the language of abstraction: evocations of a universe throbbing under the skin, in each movement, every possibility of embodiment, every way of coming to an end, each sequence of contradiction and absurdity, every destiny coursing through the veins, every gap in eternity.

    The truth of Lorenza Aranguren’s paintings, canvases where she comes alive as a contemporary painter, lies in her dedication to asking palpable, essential questions that most people might often prefer not to raise: where do we come from? where are we going? what are we? just how is life possible? what is death? is immortality possible? is time just a conventional measurement? And finally, do we return to eternal ‘conservation of matter’ or is there something on the other side? Are death and life two masks upon the same face?

    The paintings Lorenza Aranguren is now showing are a way of responding to such questions: with silence and mystery. In her canvases, longing to breathe free, DNA keeps spinning its golden helix, time’s arrow never pauses, textures are chromosomes challenging the gaze, diversity flourishes in a garden with no more restrictions than those imposed by life itself; the genetic code evaporates into color’s expressive intensity, configured to be scrutinized and deciphered, the black hole of temporality fascinates and repels, disturbs and charms; the existential journey is an invitation, an incitement, a chance you can’t resist taking.

    With no wish to have her canvases become documentary accounts of contemporary scientific paradigms for the language of painterly abstraction, Lorenza Aranguren has managed to fashion a genuine aesthetic experience, an act of creativity and imagination, a bedazzlement. Life and art imitate one another, unfold, challenge, intertwine and go their own ways, look in the mirror and open our eyes, throw dogmas and conventions into perspective, artifices, convictions, all sorts of strings-attached, or in other words everything that makes existence a mockery of what it really might be.

  • Rigorous Passion


    José Luis Meza Inda

    A FEW years ago, young Guadalajaran Lorenza Aranguren decided to free her artistic mission from the bonds of reality, and this not only gave her artistic career a decisive jolt, but provided a highly-refined scope for her contemporary aesthetic expression.

    At the beginning, what this young artist needed as a starting point for her painterly aspirations was persistence and enthusiasm, to cultivate traditional academic naturalism: she thus proved her gifts when it came to drawing, discovered the purpose and meaning of color, and confronted — with invariably successful results — the realities of landscape, human figures, floral and fruit forms, architecture, the sea and other natural forces; as she ably brought them to her canvases, in all their truth and beauty. She was exercising hands, eyes and sensibility: but then that way of painting, rooted in simplicity, ceased to satisfy her. She knew that the ability to duplicate her surroundings couldn’t satisfy her aspirations to autonomy and nonconformity. Finally she needed to move from mere exact reproduction of external forms, toward personal re-creation; on to the vivacity of interpreting mood, intensely meaningful brushstrokes, to realizing the work in fact while charging it with subjective purpose. It was then that Lorenza Aranguren’s genuine adventure as a painter began.

    During this evolutionary phase her paintings still held references to the natural world, but they were now striving to project themselves forcefully toward new and freer images, characterized by a warm physical and chromatic exuberance. There were hints of forms and figures; others maintained an identifiable structure while at the same time being transformed, drifting, floating or launching themselves vividly into other spaces, onto abstract and neutral backgrounds created with great verve, saturated with pigment and suggestibility.

    The theme, predetermined subject or object of the work thus came to entail fewer pretexts, using bold plays of purely formal and chromatic values to the extent that independent form and color became her paintings’ true structural and compositional bases; definitively replacing traditional approaches. Lorenza realized that painting for her was hardly about imitating what’s already been seen and explored, but was instead for discovering the whereabouts of the unknown, finding an order between elements that’s not been shown before, inventing new ways of registering reality.

    The logical consequence of this trend was near absolute abandonment of the objective and its reproduction, turning to seek and find the essential, the hidden soul of things, form’s metaphysical structure; then translate it into lyrically abstract compositions.

    Her attitude flourishes in these carefully grounded acrylics, where Lorenza Aranguren begins to paint wide swaths, radiant stormy light-shows or areas of extreme calm; vigorous brushstrokes stretching flamboyantly or crashing into one another creating unreal fields of attraction; vestigial shapes that are vaguely recognizable, but absorbed into unfathomable depths. Vibrant and balanced plays of color criss-cross like lightning, or follow their vertical, horizontal or diagonal courses: upon the surface of her canvases thick and dynamic circular marks, charged with dense material, strident gestures, desperate flashes of light, comic thundering explosions; tense lines of force carried to extremes; all this impregnated with a deep dramatic note, a dizzying expressiveness, convulsive disquiet made visually concrete in a series of truly beautiful paintings, powerful and convincing; bearing witness to the presence of a woman with a rich interior life, sure of who she is, ruling over her media — who at the same time seems to give shape to, make apparent, the constant struggle that unleashes human spirit, the elemental and primitive forces of emotion and passion.

    Still, there’s something powerfully evocative about these works: despite the overwhelming violence of their technique, their wave-like energy, the fierce imagination behind them; there’s always an order keeping them within reasonable limits; a natural sense, almost musical, gracing them with a rhythm of execution and admirably balanced composition. Above all, there’s an exceptional harmony in the coloration, just as apparent when she wields a palette restricted to a few basic tones, as when she lets loose a rampant variety of colors.

    Her handling of color is so engaging and tense, so luminous and limpid; always blessed with its own distinctive warmth, with a talent for alignment with the expressive intent in each of her works.

    She’s showing, or underscoring, environmental concerns, moody scenarios, thoughts or feelings tied to irritation, convulsiveness, tranquility, severity, coolness, heat, stillness, passion, silence, anguish, peace, hope — but above all to the pleasure of painting, the emotion behind expression, the joy of imagining, the capacity to plot and scheme. And especially to that fine sensitivity, natural elegance and measured cadence of her mixing and blending, skills found only among the very best colorists.

    Any other aspiring artist might find flattery in honest praise, infusing rewards with lingering enjoyment: but not this ever-driven and restless painter. Despite well-deserved applause, all the admiration and satisfaction she’s received throughout her formative and then her evolutionary process, she is more focused than ever on her artistic calling: secure and confident, with fully conscious and reflective intentions. Lately she’s devoted herself to making lovely, refined canvases, free of excess or exuberance: composed instead of introspection and thoughtful brushwork. These are paintings whose technical and structural solutions arise from an erudite and clever counterpoint of sharp-edged geometric forms, strong lines colliding, complex angles playing against one another in square, rectangular and circular forms; carefully-fitted mosaics, tight screens and grids, chessboard fragments, zones whose aesthetic resolve uses non-pictorial resources, impregnated with rich visual and conceptual intent; a formal staging ground of hard flat structures upon which are recorded the calligraphic signs and nervous strokes so much a part of Lorenza Aranguren’s very own plastic language. As I’ve said though, this work, here and now, is more contained, more premeditated, more in accord with structure’s rhythmic depths; more open to complex relations and thus more profoundly meaningful.

    This same formal resolution is supported by color that’s also different from the rest of her earlier work. It’s a more sedate chromatic range, less strident and explosive, tending almost always to tones of ochre, golden, burnt earth, resulting in canvases toasted by an interior sun, happily accentuated by areas of clear luminosity or dense blackness; paintings, finally, both truly suggestive and very delicate.

    Beyond freedom or contention, what’s essential is that Lorenza Aranguren always stands out as an excellent painter. In these well-structured and fully detailed works, in these colors with their refined tones and measured brushstrokes, this care to achieve a clear order, this search for signs ruled by painterly rationale, there survive hidden away all the burning emotional charge, rhythm and movement, vitality and fantasy characteristic of her earlier work; here restrained, as noted earlier, by touches of reason.

    This passionate rigor, or rigorous passion, may be what decisively marks Lorenza Aranguren’s aesthetic mandate: more than ever before and beginning right now, we’re face to face with a singular painter, an intense personality capable of holding our extended attention while engaging our emotion; via a body of work which in my judgement far surpasses much similar painting being done now, not only in this city or this region, but surely throughout the entire country.

  • Sometimes I Lie

    Enduring Entity in the work of Lorenza Aranguren

    By John Austin

    It is fascinating to explore an artistic practice of a Mexican artist Lorenza Aranguren. It is equally compelling to situate her oil on canvas paintings by referring to the dynamic space in the service of communication of ideas and emotions. In order to do this with some semblance of accuracy one must take into account a double set of reference points that inform these seemingly casual.

    A composite nature to her abstract surfaces is used to deftly relinquish one sort of linear, planar and spatial autonomy in order for the artist to assert an exquisite opening up of installation possibilities. The artist uses her notations and marks derived from seemingly, on the cusp of cleaving towards the representational narrative. It is to become fully operational as a mimetic mirroring of something we know and recognize without being fully caught within an imagistic a-priori.

    Accidental procedures in art making has long and rich history. As historical background information it is useful to recall that Leonardo da Vinci, in this Treatise on Painting, speaks of process of interaction between making and matching in the projection of found images or accidentally-made patterns and the need for the artist to capitalize on these mental associations. Aranguren´s mark making fully exploits our innate ability to psychically project images and extract memories out of accidental accumulations. We can trace them in our experience and culture, which builds the core of our identity. This issue is both used and referred to in Lorenza Aranguren´s series Because Sometimes I Lie.

    Stylistically, the artist uses grid and line technique. In her works oil applications create another (perhaps deferred) measure of physiological impulses. What immediately commands our attention as viewers is the magisterial sense of scale within these medium formats as well as a diptych duality of juxtaposed canvases. Energized and playfully ironic, these works hold us in suspense with the weight of their lightness and sensitivity.

    Charging their surfaces with a play of energetic physical releases the artist compels us with her visual puzzle-like conundrums Her works assert the picture planes with their own sense of inviolatedness each line and stroke is autonomous one minute, yet the next minute a magical transformation appears. All paintings contain pure energy; undistilled sensation yet the force of these energetic fields yields another, casually superimposed correspondence to emotional states.

    The result is poetic visual imagination at its best in which the activity of the work of art, in philosopher Etienne Gilson´s words, captures “a changing, fleeting, and always incomplete experience of stable complete and enduring entity”.

  • Alternate Routes

    Ricardo Duarte

    Lorenza Aranguren’s distinctive vision captures images: documenting architectural space that challenges the whole concept of ‘habitable’. Her photos are reflections and visual metaphors, and along these alternate routes the viewer becomes part of an experience: we’re invited to ponder and re-think how an individual relates to space.

      Aranguren, thoroughly versed in various techniques, takes a knowing look at new visual media: then lets us know, for good and all, that a totally contemporary discourse, from process through tangible result, can arise using traditional techniques. Her abstract language lets her eye, through the lens, synthesize shape, color and texture. Her vision adeptly departs from the concrete to deconstruct and articulate a new language, one based not only in the aesthetic or visual but also coming from philosophical analysis, from human thought; showing us how the spaces with which we interact can permanently defy us, shape-shifting and changing constantly, becoming chaos and composure all at once.

      Constructing and reconstructing is a permanent thought experiment that allows us to deeply know the chosen object, whether an image or the relationship between us and any given image, individually or as part of a community. Constructing and deconstructing, we diversify and amplify media, process and language; creating a sort of new alphabet, well-suited to creating unexpected visual metaphors.

      Moving out from photography to printmaking, to painting or textile art, follows these variations: new dialogues between techniques as rich and diverse, specific and complex, classic and contemporary, as free and clear as the processes and media Lorenza Araguren now presents to us.