Dialectics of the city
Downtown streets, neighborhood corners, warehouses, people passing by, buses. A list which immediately brings to mind the image of a city. A list each item of which also corresponds to Graciela Ieger's paintings in this show. However, we would not feel satisfied with such a scanty description, one which leaves out the poetry behind the artist's view, her powerfully realistic vision, the subtlety and surgical precision in the composition of her perspectives, the atmosphere, the expectant blues of her frozen skies, the delicate evening of a quiet district, all expressed with the virtuosity a sixteenth century Flemish painter who comes out of her beloved indoors and faces a fascinating and troubling world she feels urged to portray.
But there is more. An urban landscape is usually the scenario of human actions and as such, when it is presented as a painting, implies an aesthetic experience somehow intertwined with ethical implications. Ieger leans out towards a motley megalopolitan world of disjointed time and space, as if her long chronicle of the city and its people had increasingly absorbed its excesses. As if a profound longing prompted her to invert contemporary chaos by either leaving the streets empty of people or singling some out by neutralizing their surroundings. This allows us to stop and look and enjoy, clear-headed.
What is left of the city is thus perspective and construction as a detached vision of lucid consciousness. Those long porticos, those streets of impressive neo-classical buildings, those ramshackle structures, a bareness which seems to arouse the experience Freud calls "the ominous", the familiar which acquires strangeness. This "spring cleaning" or uprooting of whatever is out of place or lost turns the urban into a spectral landscape. It becomes a ghost world where human traces can only be perceived in the reflection of a mannequin in a shop window.
A game of presence/absence vaguely suggested as inherent to the urban experience. A dialectic game of images, outskirts vs. downtown, warehouses... and people, walking beyond their settings, neighborhoods without neighbors, industrial areas without workers, the City without the frantic pace of weekday business life. In the face of excess, she proposes fragmentation and distance, a resistance to conglomeration, a deep longing for order, even at the price of silence and loneliness.
And the inhabitants? Life remains in the movement of the pedestrians along the street - whither? whence? - caught by the artist as they walk.
With a masterful stroke, the artist bestows a second nature upon the city, offering a utopian antithesis, a stage rather than a set, demanding the human presence it was created for but has perhaps failed to find its proper place. Graciela Ieger's urban spaces counterbalance the city's exuberant disorder by claiming for us another type of experience, one which recalls Hölderlin's words: “Full of merit, yet it is poetically that man dwells on this earth."
English translation by Eloisa Squirru (email@example.com)