Luis Gonzalez Palma


Santiago B. Olmo
A gaze is so much the discovery of a world, as it is the showing of itself to others. Through the eyes sprouts the interior in the form of expression. That is why the portrait holds the psychology and the soul confined within the body, that is why it is becomes the model of all symbols. The gaze is a place of expression, yet it is always a silent expression. Luis González Palma has modeled his own gaze through the gazes of his characters, because with them he is able to share a conscience and a sensibility based on silence, on the fright and pain of the body of forms, which are the precise places of convergence of personal stories and the traditions of a culture of exclusion that has characterized Guatemala since the Conquest and even today remains unresolved, in disarray with the brief postwar of a war (unscrupulous rather than fair¿although war is never fair) so long that it has been more than thirty years since it began.
In his artwork, as he deals with perceptive and psychological matters focused on the gaze, such as silence, the obscurity of the expression, the pain or the symbols that are used for representation and its transgression, he reviews and summarizes (almost without pretending or looking to do so) the tragedy-always silent-of the history of Guatemala through the personal experience with the symbolic models of beauty and exclusion.
The past and history merge with the present through the allegory, the fable and the fiction that are used as a permanently renewed palimpsest which formulates the question¿not so much because of its identity¿but because the question proposes the drama of excision and supposes the un-identification.
To look in order to discover and explore fusions and tears; to look in order to show the impossibility of expressing what is being seen. The silence of the gaze (the title of one of his books) is a way of discovering the paralysis of understanding and of reason, questioning the absurd (not of Goya¿s monsters) but of the sensibility successively stimulated and then shunned or punished. Luis González Palma talks about an emotional glaze in order to refer to the character of Guatemalan thought and world and show itself unto others. The weight of the past is what looks after and hides through guilt. His images are often transformed into a medium that dotes with gazes those who were stripped from not just history, but from existence as well: those who are not able to carry a gaze that shows and discovers are excluded from history itself. Through the clear eyes of the characters of his images, the gaze is recovered through the symbolic reinterpretation of history, of the allegories and metaphors, of the tales and words that the eyes are capable of formulating.
The gazes of González Palma don¿t stop over the exotic image of the native, do not pretend to establish the conditions of a lost inexistent arcade, they cherish the entity of empty figures, figures that have been emptied of individuality and dignity by history, overshadows the value of reestablishing other forms of gazes as an antidote of the frustration caused by the pain: the gaze transforms its subjects, and all of the look and observe while they show themselves. Restoration of a gaze, reconstruction of a subject for the history since the symbols that time has accumulated in stratums of words, forms and narrations.
The baroque tone of his images is a parting point, a language that speaks of the symbolic and the allegory. The baroque represents the theatrical tradition of fable, as intertwined tales allow double lectures to take place, but above all, to be able to look freely and completely. The baroque is the language the allows the fusion and the excess in a scene where the metaphor is liberated with the ingenious and the fantasy so that later on, its fragments may be crushed by the weight of the immense. Opposites unite in order to be separated and projected toward an idea of "limited" infinity.
Symbols are key in the construction of models. Since the transgression of such models, history has traced another semblance which provides, since the consciousness of pain, a place to secure the hope of a new dignity. The poetry of Francisco Nájera (friend and interlocutor) expresses a coincidental detention, paralysis of gesture and the expression that turns pain into "an ever-lacking reality, an always absent experience". In his prose verses, Nájera talks about the aesthetic of what is lacking, of a voracious silence that extends like a dissolution that is aspired, of the absence, of the loneliness. His words, just like the images of González Palma, tend to make a bridge of expiation and reconstruction to dote new meanings to the gaze.
Touch is always present. But as a forbidden desire, like the spectacle of what is kept for the hands and bodies: in the canvases and damasks that make up some of the diptychs; in the pages of the books¿the antique ones¿that are superposed on semblances; in the skins or the brocades that cover them¿ touch is a temptation. It offers itself to the eyes yet denies the body, it is that the punishment given to perception. There is not an idea of sensuality, for its simulacrum through the mirage (prohibited) of touch does not imply carnality. Touch is reserved exclusively for the gaze: perhaps this is why the gaze only penetrates parting from the ephemeral flash of inner expression. Perhaps this is why pain is so evident. Painful gazes and gazes that express desertion. There is no drama for tragedy hides in the interior that sprouts, only slightly, through the symbol and allegory-so profoundly baroque¿that sustains the silent tale, slightly mute. There are also new gazes, displaced from exoticism, freed from having to faithfully respond to the stereotyped censured gaze of others: gazes conscious of their pain and of the unjust weight of a story. This new gaze assumes a language of its own shapes and forms as a poetic affirmation, like the beginning of the reconstruction of its own existence in the figure of a subject.