The intimacy of color

Intimidad del Color 1Blue. Ultramarine blue. It merges with another blue, the phthalo blue, a greener one. Blue that runs like a wave. It moves and suddenly there is a sea. Medium-cadmium yellow. Incandescent sun, warm sand, headland. Camium orange raises the temperature, the intensity of it all. White, titanium white: stars, wind, water current, spiral. Just a flash of red, then another, darker – a wound. Then the phrase is done, the landscape, a universe. Sometimes it is enough, sometimes it is just the beginning: afterwards I will add layers of materials, making a more complex image. I build worlds within worlds, opening windows for the imagination, all of this with paint, canvas, paper, prisms, vinyl. Some place else in the room, there are pencils, transparent rocks, a library. Drops of light on the wall. The leaves repeating themselves in the garden: the vegetable order. Sounds, textures. What belongs inside and what belongs outside, all joined in the same breath, osmosis. Exalted intimacy, never stillness, never silence.

c6Color is the thread that unifies my visual thoughts. My childhood memories are marked by color: it is the most private thing of my entire being. The playfulness of color. The discovery of a magic wand, and the transmutation of elements in images. The flowers, the ixora from India, the red skooter, the sturdy blue spheres, or red, or green. The lake. To encounter again the alphabet of basic sensations, in order to reproduce certain atmospheres. Falling in love with that which surges, only because it comes from deep inside. Upon occasion, disgust with that which comes out. Sometimes a lovely disgust, sometimes disturbed, estranged. It is the expulsion of a body of one’s own, a body that was being contained, growing, inexorably destined to materialized. Each painting is a thought, an affection. It is private. Each painting, each piece, reveals my desire to be surrounded by flowers, by the aurora borealis, by sweets, by books and woods, by adjectives and substantives regarding the sphere of the sublime, the spiritual, but also the quotidian. It is the recreation of small, intimate paradises. It is the desire to watch starry skies, to have the eyes of nature. 


Poetry, music, color. The synesthesia allows to build images holding the necessary resonance, so as to transform what is secret in artistic act and piece: the sweet poetry, the soft music, the warm color. To transfer, dilute and mix substances coming from the soul, from memory, in order to pour them on space, in two, three, four dimensions. Memories of what we have seen, tasted, listened, what we have touched and breathed. To change the nature of these evocations; to transform them into works of art using the instruments that identify us as creative beings. The fabrication and weaving of the oneiric matter, turning it into a personal language, is an individual trance, guided by our own knowledge, our education, the information we posses. Verbal thought can accompany this process, but in my case, such a procedure is generally non-verbal, unraveling itself in other areas of the brain – areas containing what is abstract and spatial, and, above all else, what is intuitive.c3 There is a doubt, however: why is my product a work of art? Because others, who know, say it so. It is not cooking, it is not literature, it is not science, it is not carpentry, or gardening, even though it has something from all of them. What I do is an object, an idea, a concept found in the closure of a discipline called Art. Is it because it originates from a different, special energy? In any case, it is what I like to do, what I intend to keep doing, so as to see where I will arrive if I follow this path oriented like a pendulum, between cosmos and gardens.


The creative will, coming from what is deep and intimate in us, the artists, the sensorial beings, intellectual and ludic, often produces eidetic states. Being awake – or rather half-asleep, from time to time I project in front of me images that are visual spectacles that are not really there, even though I am watching them. A carrousel of simple forms, strongly colored, whirls above me. Or a flower detaches from the wall, growing, opening its petals and levitating before my eyes. Or a hippo that tamely comes to my bed to rest its head on the sheets. Or even a tiger that jumps off the Selva Mater collage, escaping. Or a crystal that hovers in my room, meekly lighting it.


What is intimate is permeable. What is intimate can modify its receptacle, depending on external stimuli. The drive towards the particular order of a plastic proposal draws force from other sensible phenomena, aesthetic sensations, designed by man or nature – be it a small collage, a painting of large dimensions, or a chromatic intervention in a specific place, be it an ephemeral or permanent work of art, it will always drink of that source.


4When I think of a loving, intelligent film such as Amélie, or a book rich with characters and stories from India, or a banana and papelón cake, or Bach at any hour of the day, or even the mere thought of resting on a hammock – when I think of any of those products of a specific individual intimacy that, nonetheless, touch entire communities, I dare to assert that what is intimate is also common, despite its variables. The amazement the Gran Sabana can exert on anyone who sees it, the wonder of a rainbow appearing behind our back or of a bird restless in its branch, these are all works of God, telling testimonies of His existence, and motive of joy, that sort of joy that nurtures the generative springs of life. Like a genetic map, that which is intimate in each artist will in turn have its own features, determining where its artistic proposal will go. A dark intimacy leads to a dark artwork; a luminous intimacy will take us to a lighter artwork. Or maybe not. Can calm intimacies produce tortures pieces? Maybe, as we are struck by the reality around us, we tend to produce pieces that bear pain, or reveal certainties, or move towards introspection. In my case, I have invented for myself a house of painting, with its gardens and its windows, so I can protect myself from irony and create starting from the beauty of the universe, even when it means growing apart from certain trends of contemporary art.


c5I wish for my work to be read and enjoyed by others. I will take words from some of my friends, starting with Hanni [Ossott]: “I saw Patricia making them [the pieces] and her gestures struck me as those of a child that simulates writing. I also had the impression that it was all about painting with the body, as if the restlessness of the lines were compromised with the dance of the hands. […] In other occasions, Patricia has told me about her passion for that which is ludic and the joy of color. I think passion for color springs here like a festivity of some kind, like an exercise, like a dance.”


Then María Elena [Ramos]: “In her dreams, objects simultaneously change of color and shape. Dots become stars, what is opaque brightens, what is matte turns iridescent. […] But she need to move the fingers again, she needs to remember with them the times and childhood pleasures of painting with fingers, and so she searches for the acrylic that makes transparencies possible, the creation of new colors.


Then Roberto [Guevara]: “She produces by herself, or finds, fragments of matter for her great paintings / collages. With every intention she works this primal matter, that carries a charge of its own, and then she uses it to compose different baroque visions, sumptuously clashing with chromatic suggestions and demands, and there the spectator moves inside universes that are still taking shape…”


c2Again, in contact with that which is intimate, I choose a pair of scissors, the sharpest. Then I take an already-painted canvas, off its frame. The scissors painlessly cut the canvas. I am relieved to know it will serve a purpose, even when it did not show the right qualities to become a work of art. I want to cut out a particular form, of a certain area, because of the disposition of the colors, because of their tone, their compact shade, a miniature landscape soon to be inserted in a larger panorama. These small pieces will take over immensity like a shoal of fish, or like books in a bookshelf, or windows on a building. I soak my latex-covered fingers in glue and, as one that would care a cure a wound, I spread it across the back of the figures I have just cut. Then I stick it on the new canvas, making sure to clean the excess of glue with a wet tissue. Thus, a painting fills another painting, and when every piece falls into place, reading the artwork finally becomes possible.



I frequently feel anxiety because I lose the perspective from which I was regarding an art piece. I get saturated. It sort of leaves my sight. I get uneasy, and this discomfort fills the day up. It may be that, in time, that very same painting will seem solved to me. Or that others, in whose judgment I trust from time to time, will think so. In some cases, after a period, I go back to the painting and think its identity is not clear just yet – then I start working on it again, feeling a form of vertigo. I do not mean to finish the painting, because that never quite happens, but only to apply more color, a bit of yellow there, maybe, and the harmony will be clearer: then I know that it will be hard to surpass that sort of orchestration that I have accomplished, so I leave the painting be. But sometimes I work on them so much that I lose them. I used to throw them away, in spite of the horrified gaze of some people – now I keep them, so I can cut them. Considering this process, it seems superfluous to affirm that creation is the product of inspiration. It is the pressure of a deadline, rather than the urge to express myself. Or the conjunction of both. To paint is to enter the absorbed world of pure creation, the intimate contact with every extraordinary thing. It consists on harnessing the capacity to expose the imaginary, so as to amaze, move, and shock whomever is adequately in tune with my language.


What I see there: a Castellan mill, a ruby mine, rain pouring under water, a fenced garden, a paragraph, a jumping hare, a clearing in the wood, a burning sun, the Milky Way, the Nordic coastline, a nocturnal palm tree, the luxurious rain forest, cultivated fields, yards, windows, cayennes and tulips. What do you see?


Patricia Van Dalen, September 2003.

This text was written for the

Translated by Adalber Salas Hernández, 2014