image courtesy of the artist
Ana Perez Ventura is a Spanish artist based in France, but also a talented musician. Her work creates new correspondences between art and music while exploring the relationships between time, space and the idea of repetition. La Mesure du Temps is the first personal exhibition of the artist at H Gallery.
Ventura’s work had already appeared at the gallery in June 2016 in the group show, Harmonies Constructivistes. Her training as a pianist is the basis of her art. To develop the necessary qualities to a concert performer, a pianist must spend hours repeating the same gestures so that the body can internalize and integrate them. The artist establishes a synesthesia, an equivalence between music and painting and thus becomes a kind of human metronome. Music gives the impulse and the work visually explores the passage of time which is then reflected in the process of creating images.
Indeed, in the same way that a pianist must practice, repeat, memorize his scales and in the same way that a composer builds a score with motifs assembled in a certain order, the artist, involving her body by similar gestures, repeats again and again, on canvas or on paper, patterns in a particular order, while superimposing them. Ventura adds strata of colors and shapes to create her artworks. Likewise, the musician’s memory, notes and gestures superimpose the notes to make a synthesis, a melody, a music. She finds beauty in the technical aspects of her exercises, just like an athlete could find as much beauty in her training as in her victories. Her gestures measure and count time and, by inscribing themselves in space, her works make visible the music which, in essence, is impalpable.
Ana Pérez Ventura, Etude n°199, Acrylique sur toile, 38 x 46 cm, 2017
Neumes are signs of musical notation inherited from the Middle Ages. Their etymology, which means «which concerns air, breath», indicates that musical notation is already a writing of the time. The series of the Neumas by Ana Pérez Ventura is com- posed of 27 pieces based on the 24 studies and 3 other musical pieces by Chopin. The latter developed this pianistic genre by going beyond the educational aspect in order to make masterpieces of technique and emotion. To create this series, Ana transcribes the score with white and black points that correspond to the piano keys, she removes the rhythmic indications of the stave and reveals the relative relations between the notes. Each page is written on a layer of tracing paper and superimposed on the next page. The cryptic drawing becomes a real three-dimensional object whose plays of transparencies and nuances create subtle melodic forms.
Her series of Notages began when she was invited to participate in an exhibition on monochrome. The notages are an operation to record airs on music boxes hence the idea of drilling holes in her works. She first used a study by Chopin (op.10, no. 5) in which the right hand plays only on black keys. She continued this series with her works playfully nicknamed «beans», for the exhibition Réalités Nouvelles in which she participates regularly, using repetitive piano exercises that she describes as slightly boring, such as those by Lemoine or Hanon. The physical effort to drill the holes in the various materials, the variations in the depth of the holes themselves, the precision, the unacceptable slightest mistake, the patience and the discipline used in this series mirror the experience of a professional pianist.
The repetitive practice of scales is one of the exercises that each pianist must perform regularly. A scale is based on an ordered set of notes that follows a sequence of fixed intervals, which can be repeated on different octaves. The major scale is one of the most used musical components. It is possible to form a major scale from each of the 12 piano keys (7 white and 5 black). There are therefore 12 major scales. Each scale involves using a certain set of notes, a certain physical path that the fingers and hands of the pianist must learn by heart and repeat unceasingly.
The drawings of the 12 Gammes majeures series show the scores of the twelve major possible scales that use the maximum number of octaves according to the keyboard size. Ana Perez Ventura’s drawings work like geographical maps and indicate the paths that must be followed by fingers on the keyboard. The color of each note refers to the specific physical spaces that are the black and white keys.
Ventura’s paintings and drawings can be gathered under the name of Etudes. This series, begun in 2007, has undergone aesthetic and technical evolutions. In music, a study is a piece intended to solve a specific problem, usually technical, which is translated by a gesture, a concrete physical movement. For Ventura, the specific problem to solve is how to create an entire work from a continuous line in the same way that a piece of piano is played from beginning to end. She has engraved paint layers, applied the paint with markers transformed into tubes, quarter-turned her canvases and papers between each layer, drawn curves until reaching the limits of the canvas and of her own physical resistance.
In her Études, she explores the temporality of the painter’s gesture. The works are, therefore, the result of the rhythmic repetition of the same circular gesture which leaves a mark on the surface of the canvas by adding or subtracting matter. The repetition of this gesture makes the pictorial surface a weaving. Thus, the final image is the result of superimposed layers which give rise to an infinity of subtle variations in color and depth.
In music, studies are built around a single musical material, rhythmic and melodic patterns that repeat with slight variations and create a continuous writing that visually recalls a tapestry. In the same way, the plastic choreography of gestures and movements of Ventura creates works that are as swirling as hypnotic.
The conceptual and geometric works of Ventura reveal themselves to be of great poetry and immense beauty, for whom takes the time to look at them and immerse themselves in them. Their abstraction, their silence is only apparent since they evoke a sensitive, real and sonorous language: music. The notes, the inflections become colors, points, lines, holes, crevices and produce sounds that resonate, whether subtle or brilliant, in the heads of visitors… Beyond contemplation, a rhythmic, plastic, meaningful and physical spiral invites our imagination to a delicate and effervescent dance.