Raúl Díaz


By Fermín Fèvre.
Although Raúl Díaz´s work acquires personality and identity throughout its fulfilment in the nineties, we can say that its origins go back to the eighties. When he drops his well-advanced university career of Architecture, the option for art becomes an act of transformation in his life. It is a copernical revolution which gathers together both theoretical and practical knowledge acquired through Architecture as well as the trends towards drawing and painting clearly present as a real vocation since he was a child.

What is more, pictorial contemporaneousness creates an adequate frame for evident similarities to some artists from Córdoba, Argentina and Europe, particularly to those who belong to the Italian transvanguardian movement. It deals with a shared glance at reality. A general disillusion which is closely connected with the political process our country is going through; lost of faith in ideological absolutisms; a perception of a strong desire to go deep inside interior world and the remains of the past in our memory are all part of this enumeration.

These are the aspects that motivate Raúl Díaz after the initial search where the emphasis was on the closest social reality. Our artist gives vent to his expressive impulse which, in turn, gives vent to the artist´s imagination. Our artist develops an intense and passionate personality that leads him towards surprising discoveries. He shows himself and transfers to his work an identity which finds itself within the appropriate environment to reach its destiny. An artist has been born.

His activity throughout the nineties, that is the hundreds of works he has made and the high opinion people have of them not only in Argentina but also in the United States and Europe; the favorable opinion of the critics and the interest of various and qualified collectors are proof positive that the last decade was more than beneficial for him. It was only in ten years that Raúl Díaz´s artistic work reached respectable consensus.

Since it has acquired an identity other than the one that defines it, we find ourselves facing the presence of an esthetic thought which has matured under the light of its own creativity. There is an expressive will in Díaz which is present in his paintings, sculptures and drawings. He is the owner of a world and a language that is thought.
Raúl Díaz intuitions made up his poetic thought. They come from a double flowing. On the one hand they refer to present perceptions that have to do with involuntary memory which establishes associations between today and yesterday and rescues animated experiences throughout existence which , on the other hand, make up essential paradigms of what is human. This is the reason why his work travels along contemporary and present time and the lack of temporality of the essences. What is connected to existing and what has to do with the being; if we understand that although they are different, both coincide.

These two times live together in the work of this artist gathering perceptions of the timeless being and the present existing. Since they are both, at the same time, contemporary; they establish a conceptual unity: Today experiences are put in an order that goes beyond themselves.

This determining fact makes Raúl Díaz develop images of a symbolic nature. They refer poetically, in a more metaphorical way, at times, to feelings, beliefs and values; that is to say: to the absence of what is a product of intuition.

Raúl Díaz uses binary propositions in order to carry out this enterprise. He practically avoids pictorial space without the representation of the human silhouette which is found in almost all his works. In general, one or more men whom the observer can sometimes see from behind. They are usually flat silhouettes, with no volume and, in some cases, accompanied by the emblematic presence of a horse. The human couple man-woman appears in other works with similar characteristics.

Such presence has to do with architectural structure of imaginary spaces. They have a strong psychological burden and the human silhouette both receives the environmental impact and contributes to create it. However, and despite this determining situation of representative figuration, there is a noticeable trend towards abstraction in many of his paintings. Those spaces which have been created, become almost abstract but still include some reference from a real space. (the sea, nature, a flower...) All in all, they keep their sensitive character in an unassailable atmosphere that, in some cases, acts as a distant veil.
There is a substantial elaboration of color in those cold and distant though sensitive atmospheres which are the result of a reflexive process. Díaz creates his own textures specially when he uses the wooden table or its substitutes as support. He uses different kinds of materials, pigment, plaster, acrylic, industrial thickeners, chalk, calcium carbonate, aqueous methods, glue, varnish, etc. within an alchemy that is modified upon circumstances. With the use of burins or different types of electrical saws he generally cuts the wooden surface which has already been textured, obtaining a new texture that breaks the neutral plane which consequently gains mobility.

This is how he obtains a spongy and flighty color in a wide range of ochre, grays and blues or vibrant reds. Sometimes color diffuses itself , spreading up with an atmospheric sense. This chromatic power produces multiple visual sensations that pierce the observer´s affectivity. A pastel chromatics, a distant passion. We must remember that the world of image always refers to absence (It is the image of something that is not there). It leads to the sensitive world of affection and color is a means of singular efficiency which is used by Díaz from intuition and reflection, that is to say, within another binary perspective.

This repetition of what is mythical is, in its turn, connected with the ambivalent character regarding meanings. We have come to the area of what is mysterious and inscrutable grounds of this evanescent vision that creates the atmospheres of the paintings of this artist as if it was behind a veil. There is a great burden of nostalgia in these images which undoubtedly comes from the memories of experiences that have been kept there and which re-appear updated and organized in accordance with the incitement of the present. Carl Jung considered that it was impossible for man to live without myth or history, without producing a mutilation. As far as his dissidences with Freud are concerned, the fact of considering that the unconscious had to stay always as such, giving no try to taking it to the conscious plane and consequently avoiding the possibility of rationalizing it. Would it be too much to say that Raúl Díaz paints with the unconscious?

The vision that this artist´s painting offers walks along ambiguity due to the inaccurate, hardly intuitive condition. This is the reason why the drawing is never closed and the borderlines among shapes get lost in the space which has been created.

Everything is suggested, partially said, it lacks evident allusions, taking for granted that what is obvious does not belong to art. The esthetic field does not depend on realism although it does as iconic representation hence, symbolic. There is a close correspondence between symbols and values and beliefs of strong intermixture of affective roots. Those symbols are part of a deep internalization which makes up the identity.

There is certain critical distance among images created by Díaz which maybe deliberate, with the purpose of diminishing distances and softening passion which is, according to what Ernst Gombrich says, essential to create a work of art.

The concave –shaped vessels we repeatedly find with or without the human silhouette speak to us in a metaphorical way about the trip and drift, two existential situations that have been poetically developed since Homeric times. They refer to a feeling we experience today when we face precarious existence.

On the other hand the natural world where men live together with animals, vegetables and various objects seems to be frozen, taken to an unnatural field, static and artificial indeed which makes it lack temporality and places it in a virtual space merely imaginary.

Díaz´s artistic work, not only his paintings but also his sculptures, enables him to mediate his experiences. However he is still autobiographical though it is his expressive distance what allows those experiences to become universal transferring them to the spectator.

This artist has managed to stay away from the vanguardian clamor and its unsteady and ephemeral situations. He has developed his work all alone being part of no particular group and following no esthetic fashion of his time whatsoever.