MÁS ALLÁ DE AQUÍ
por Óscar Alonso Molina
text for the catalogue 2-Dimensional Sculpture,
galeria MasArt, October 2011
Everything in Sabine Finkenauer's delightful oeuvre is a little flat, a little sketchy and more sophisticated than it appears at first sight. With a characteristic and mannered formal reduction of her figures, increasingly singled out using their basic geometric structural components, she has got us to believe that her paraphrasing of individuals and objects is in truth the result of a ingenuous, childlike and spontaneous perspective; it is almost as if the author, in a state of grace, or rather being funny (to be sure very nice and even amusing), approaches her task of portraying things with singular spontaneity and fluency, with great ease, taking a swift tour of the aspect they present to us and through which it is easier to recognize them.
Is this true? Does the artist have a special ability to connect with the essence of what she observes and offer it to us, translated one might say in an unmediated way into a naif and innocent code without mediation? I am afraid that taking an attentive look at that universe populated by girls, dwarfs, flowers and gardens (in principle, it is true, so simple and happy) that until recently characterized her work was enough to realized, for example, that Finkenauer ultimately always refers to issues that lie beyond the aspect of these characters, or that the graphic repertoire of her drawing of the children is just another visual code, and I would say an especially convoluted one, with which first of all she addresses the expectations and knowledge of the world of adults, or that the iconography she handles discreetly and maturely transcends the symbols, archetypes and strata which traditional anthropology ascribes to the limits of the imaginary of a children's tale. Yet there is more; it would also be sufficient to follow the process of progressive abstraction in her issues and ways of dealingwith them, her growing austerity going hand in hand with the rise in multidisciplinary spatial concerns, or the increasing importance she attaches to the site-specific location of her three-dimensional works, to understand that something in this work is maturing before our eyes. All of this is especially relevant in this new exhibition at masART Galeria, which in some way rounds off a process which had already been quite clearly marked out in her previous appearance at the gallery.
This is because, and I will say it now, Finkenauer's recurring "childlike universe" (which, according to what I have read and heard, for many is practically the same as infantilized) is just that: a tale, in other words, in itself a narrative formula based on clarity, the effectiveness of certain stuctural patterns of characterization, action and meaning, which allude t.o morecomplex issues, through which they are compressed and expressed in a brief and figurative way for a universal audience.
But no, Sabine's art is not for everyone, this should be accepted. As indeed neither is that of Klee or Calder, despite their amazing popularity, nor even that of Torres Garcia or Basquiat. Successfully explicit in spite of their almost complete abstraction, these most recent scenes of hers, in particular her models and installations, without drama or stage (everything in them develops the intense but laconic main performance by a usually unique, and increasingly generic, abstract and mental character) function as hermetic emblems, onlywithom a legend or moral. Reflections of a gem, tightly fitted pieces of a puzzle, the warp and woof of a space where the conical perspective is alluded to ... These are very unusual things for the drawing ability of a child, aren't t they? And yet at the same time, how attractive and close for their attention. The perception of what surrounds, in a real or imaginary way, this hypothetical immature consciousness may, it is true, be one of the driving forces of Finkenauer's work then and now, but stated just as we in the adult world assume it should be as they pass through life; full of attention and surprise compared with the mystery and magic that psychologists associate with that age.
It is thus not surprising that now things are slowly peeling off the walls, coming off the wallpaper or the pages of the tale that was left open, since this is something that occurs relatively frequently and without great problems for kids' imaginations. Through the mirror, the reflected (in her crystal moon or the child's little head that Sabine offers us with no little malice) is literally the fruit of quicksilver ...Indeed, behind the smile that they undoubtedly cause, I suspect the uneasiness of anyone who has to navigate between all these figures through the rooms of the gallery that, as in a puppet theatre, leap into three-dimensional space without totally convincing us of their status as certain or free-standing bodies. It is as if there were a strobe of their bodily presence and therefore of their specific meaning for those who perceive them. The remains of the representational artifice in these most recent pieces by Sabine, nowadays more complex, intellectual, abstract and concerned about their location in the particular space they are to occupy, as in the author's much better-known drawings and paintings, are evident, even ostentatious. This is a world held in two dimensions which aspires to conquer the third but which, as in Abbott's famous novel, is something that will only happen at another time, through gaininga new future generation, a final transfer that we are about to witness, waiting.
It is, I repeat, an effort of artifice, of the wonderful artifice of an which makes Sabine Finkenauer's personal worldview into a place, as if it were a sound box, where the presence of man in the world, his very physical location, so basic and at the same time problematic, reverberates in a strange and very stimulating way. The power and the energy which surrounds it and he manages give shape to her endearing but at the same time so curious, deformed and succinctly allegorical cast. I also believe that nature, paraphrased as the ultimate referent, as an Edenic state of a psychology or a natural state in the species (the child, the primitive, the madman, the wild man), is in actual fact the true absentee, the same in her synthetic landscapes as in her inhabitants and fruits. It is a nature that more than once while writing these lines has reminded me of that described by the narrator in The Little Prince at a point in that famous story, no less wonderful and deceptively simple - as if for children - than Sabine's: "I soon learned to know this flower better. On the little prince's planet the flowers had always been very simple. They had only one ring of petals; they took up no room at all; they were a trouble to nobody." So be it.
MasArt Gallery. Sant Eusebi, 40. Until 6th January 2012.