Not yet have we dimmed the memory of the Monads, during our visit to the beautiful exhibition at the Gallery, let’s hope this memory will last, and we find again Barbara Duran’s eyes, that hold no doubts and turn with great acumen towards a present which, if necessary, we could call figurative.
A tormented topicality, in this new cycle of art works technically already completed, viewed in her studio, with exemplary refinement, conveyed through color, molten and completed, as it outlines quivering bodies and physical immobility.
The sorrow of a look, the happiness in the light touch of a gesture, brighten the brilliance of white supports in the rhythm and the synthesis thus accomplished, and thrust their beauty towards an extreme allegorical cohesion, intimate, and sublimated, more than endured. The masses of ochre and blue acquire, surrounding the perfect outline of a body, the plasticity of matter, which on its own still determines and concludes each elegant consistency.
This same elegance drives and sustains objects and forms in a few large still life paintings where every day elements recapture a measure of harmony and simplicity, coherent with the clear and soft backgrounds or the corruptibility of pasty and tangible depths.
This imaginary rank of figures therefore drives us to observe, in this evolving moment of Barbara Duran’s life, paintings that stand up for themselves, in the need to assert, positively and lyrically, the art of painting.
Visiting Barbara Duran’s studio you discover, stacked, heavy wooden structures, straight towards the walls, waiting: they are old rough doors, or rough with yellowed paint and they weigh like the old woods that have absorbed the destruction of humidity and the fire of the sun. They are grouped on the wall, supporting themselves by weighing on themselves. They are waiting for Barbara to draw large living figures, evanescent transparencies, blocks of matter with light oxides and white impasto.
It happens that, cyclically, these figures return, reappearing at the edge of the walls of the studio, from the exhibition rooms of the world of painting and are recomposed still waiting, until the future possible to realize a new bridge with those who love art. Many figures have not returned, but Barbara is already very far away, fled to other atmospheres, beyond new lines and vanishing points. In these hours she is busy, in the most complete concentration, to elaborate anew the line of the horizon, the nature expressed with skilful clumps of earths and velvety greens, ochres and blues that come apart from the penumbra that the earth of Casseladdensa and crowns, opposite to liquid white skies.
And the figures wait, thinking and blocked, for new characters to fill the absences, after the last competitions, like unreal bystanders.
The stimulus that emerges from the deepest interiority to propose the most ancient, most radical sensations, is in the artist that concretized in the work. Until the moment when it is impossible to proceed further; it is at this moment that with the greater presumable safety, the color, the stroke, the structure does not need any further intervention.
With this happy moment the last phase ends: the work is done.
And in this sense, the expressive periods of Barbara Duran must be examined, as cycles composed of single works that open and close in their finitude and allow further meaningful openings to reach concrete transfers – from a cycle of works to the new purposes that are will accomplish.
Willem de Kooning wrote:
“Painting never seems to give me peace or purity. (..) I never seek, neither” inside, “nor” outside, “nor in art in general, a state of rest. Somewhere, I feel it, it owes us be some extraordinary idea, but every time I try to reach it, I get a strange sense of apathy and I want to lie down and sleep. Some painters, myself included, don’t care what kind of chair they’re sitting on. They don’t. it doesn’t even need to be comfortable. We are all too restless to worry about where we should sit and we don’t even want to sit “with great fanfare,” because we have realized that painting – every genre, every style of painting – to be true painting it must be a way of life, a style, so to speak, of life. (..) If I stretch my arms around and ask myself where my fingers are – here, I have traced the space that is enough for a painter. “
(From The New American Painting, 1951)
This short writing by the great Dutch artist seems to me to be a useful suggestion for an analysis of Barbara Duran’s recent painting. In fact, in the last paintings, the young painter, further articulates the elements of light, whose vibrations are able to create, close to the past years, new variants – and we are talking about the variations and her completed and overcome paths – peremptorily disposing of the ease of which de Kooning writes, for the attainment of “some extraordinary idea” which appears to be “somewhere”.
In fact, following the guideline of the “Monads”, of the latest series of “material” paintings of the years 2002/2003, it acquires the perfect harmony of the return to an inexorable new figuration. He delves into his own painting until the creation of works that, “here, trace the space that is enough for a painter.”