‘The stone is a direct link to the heart of the matter, a molecular link. When I hit it, I get the echo of what we are, at the solar plexus, matter’s center of gravity. Then, the whole universe has a resonance.’ -Isamu Noguchi
Rooted between the limits of abstraction and figuration, the work of Paula Cortazar (Monterrey, 1991) is part of a narrative defined by the production of stylized and simplified sculptures that represent and equate vestiges and processes found in nature. The exhibition “Comunidad”, presents the artist’s most recent body of work that starts from early pieces – intimately linked with the exploration of drawing on various organic sculptural materials – to give way to a renewed aesthetic discourse intrinsically related to the natural processes that arise and occur in the lands- cape adjacent to her home and studio, located in Parque de la Huasteca in Monterrey.
The material exploration of drawing, applied to paper as well as wood or stone, is one of the central axes of Cortazar’s work. Her artistic language shows a formal stylization in which other media, such as photography or collage, have been inscribed. Her methodology and manual work are of a punctual precision that functions equally between the smallest pieces and those of large format. Beyond the sketch itself, Cortazar uses drawing as the first essential element for the connection between her production and her environment: “Drawing is the tool that allows me to show and interpret the graphic code hidden in elements such as a tree or a river. (…) It proves that each element surrounding us is part of a whole.”
The evolution of the artist’s artistic language designates sculpture as a way of exploring the world and understanding the environment of our spatial awareness. Formally, the pieces that build up “Comunidad” are characterized by being representations based on huge blocks of limestone and polished marble, which have been commercially discarded and later rescued by the artist to be directly sculpted in the studio. Cortazar shows profound skill and knowledge of the materials she works with. She modifies her process to relate more directly to their intrinsic properties. The heritage of artists such as Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), and Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) is undeniable; Cortazar inserts herself into a historical-artistic line based on sculptural production not reduced to the creation of isolated objects, but as entities in close relationship with the space that surrounds them.
Cortazar does not intend to create direct figurations of the orography, topography, and vegetation surrounding her but to evoke the intrinsic biological, social, and relational processes of which they are a part. At first glance, the exhibition presents a sculpture garden where we register elements of the native flora of the Northeast region of Mexico. Mesquites, collas, or agaves are recognizable as resources to trace a direct relationship with their context. The sculpture garden presented by the artist is characterized by lightness, dynamism, and a deep understanding of its theme. The pieces Huella del agua and Vi crecer un mezquite build a relationship between these natural elements and the capitalocentric processes that alter the landscape and that have led to the observation of water scarcity and consequent drought in the region, which generates not only social conflicts but also severe long-term environmental consequences.
On the other hand, Cortazar digs into the resilience processes of the species that inhabit this type of semi-desert ecosystem. Resiliencia and Comunidad (which gives its name to the exhibition) reflect on the plant species that live together and that create a network of sustenance that allows them to constantly adapt to adversity and subsist in what the artist defines as “an environment where few manage to survive.” In the same way, Mis hermanas delves into the artist’s relationship with these species of plants that find themselves and with which she lives. A deep relationship is evident in which the ecosystem protects the most vulnerable who inhabit it.
Brancusi defined the simplicity of the work as “the ability to be aware of the real meaning of things.” With this exhibition, Cortazar manages to capture this real sense as the most alive essence of those beings with whom she lives. At the same time that she achieves a formal connection with the heritage of the history of sculpture, she manages to formulate a concept crucial to the beliefs of many traditional cultures that embody the connection between human beings and the earth.