‘I think that I begin these paintings looking for silence … It’s like a cleansing exercise, to seek emptiness, guided by a biological reference point.’
The abstractions of Juan Uslé (b. 1954 Santander) evoke a range of associations, from the cadence of human breath and the beat of a pulse to the environs and energy of his homes in northern Spain and New York City. The paintings and works on paper might resemble a landscape even as they present a manifestly abstract pattern of subtly controlled mark and colour, often evoking a piece of music or the rhythmic transcription of a recording device. ‘I move the brush and press down until the next heartbeat occurs’, says Uslé. ‘I try to follow a sequential rhythm, marked by the beating of my pulse … and in general it turns into a sequential field or territory of marks and routes reminiscent of the sea, a landscape, or a pentagram.’
Soñe que Revelabas (Pechora) (2018) looks like a landscape with a river running through its centre, yet there is a tangible rhythm, a slow movement through space, and an accretion of pigment and matter over time. The painting is from an evolving series of large paintings collectively known as Soñe que Revelabas (I Dreamt that You Revealed), which has been ongoing since 1997. The play of colour and pattern in the small canvas Confinado (Frio) (2020) makes the painting look kinetic, like a photograph taken from the window of a train. As with so many of the artist’s paintings, there is a dynamic dialogue between organic and geometric forms, randomness and order, and the simultaneous physicality of paint and its ability to disappear into sheer, ethereal surfaces and the illusion of light.