Essays  Alberto Giudici  

Alberto Giudici

Works - Obras 1981 - 2011

Entitled Visiones, the most recent exhibition of the work of Norma Bessouet –who lives in both New York and Buenos Aires– was held in Boston in April of 2009. To a large extent, visions and its meanings run through her work, blossoming in the silent corners of memory and dream. Reminiscences and experiences connected to her perception of the world and art history, with which she is in constant dialogue.

The secret of existence, other possible worlds, lost paradise and innocence, that first instance of human wandering still unpolluted but threatened by human drives. This is the curiosity of Alice going through the looking glass, venturing into the vast world, opening up to the mystery of sexuality. These are the ground waters that inhabit Bessouet’s work.

In its state of restrained tension, her painting entails dichotomies: the human and the animal; the neo-Classic and the structurally dreamlike; the image of the young woman and the disturbing presence of the mediating man-child; femininity –suggested by the form of the woods– and virility, present in the figure of the animals. These polarities attract one another and give shape to the message of a highly codified poetry, a wordless and nameless poetry, a poetry that collides with thought.

Silence pervades her paintings. Everything is latent, waiting for things to happen in an unsteady balance of frozen moments in something that was, that will be, that might be. Like in her work Matias’ Visions, where the theatricality of the child’s gesture suggests The Burial of the Count of Orgaz: the curtains that open grandly to reveal a stage that Matías points to, aiming at a virginal supine body, awaiting the moment of the offering. Initial moment where everything is balance and drive, harmony and wait. The earthly and the heavenly, as in that celebrated canvas by El Greco.

The tension between these two poles in the perception of her painting is also felt in her prints and drawings. The drawings partake of a vital sensuality that awakens dulled senses, in for instance the powerful triptych Fragments to Dominate Silence, where the restless of the scene, of the framing, of the refined strokes places us before situations devoid of context and worldly contamination. They aim at transcendence, at the immanent.

In her pictorial procedures, Norma Bessouet is exquisite. Her work has been said to partake of Latin American magic realism. That is certainly true, but it also resonates with art history in its entirety as seen through an absolutely personal filter that speaks of universal being. Norma Bessouet’s work is undeniably “the story of a soul’s journey,” as Guillermo Roux so succinctly described it in the prologue to the exhibition Visiones. A journey of a soul that sheds petals of meaning whose answers lie in the viewer.

Alberto Giudici