The development of modern technology and the extraordinary new possibilities offered to image makers has created the need to look back to ancient art with the hope of finding clues to read with fresh eyes and follow up using new tools.
My interest in antiquity dates back to my early childhood in a mountain village. I grew up surrounded by Neolithic petroglyphs and Iberian settlements. The community's religious rituals were a mixture of paganism and fundamentalist Christianity. The former was haunting, the latter disturbing but instructive.
My comprehensive art education included the RCA (Royal College of Art) after an intense year in Italy painting in a secluded village in the mountains. The richly descriptive approach and oneiric imagery I had picked up in England were cut loose in Amsterdam by the Puritanism of the Dutch School, leaving me reduced to my bare bones, so to speak, and ready to return home. There I started to paint fragmented imagery, perhaps as a means of moving away from figurative work that felt rhetorical and repetitive. I then tried to understand further the use of light via colour and my images became limited to amorphous - and sometimes geometrical - forms. This process was concluded a decade later in England where I started to use bitumen, wax, varnishes and similar materials as well as drips in order to draw, partly in response to the simplicity of a group of statuettes I saw at the British Museum, originally from Benin in Africa. The Benin imagery and African drums helped me take a more direct approach to drawing, paradoxically getting rid of frills by daring to include them in my painting.
During these past five years, due to a certain extent to my work as a teacher, research in art libraries has garnered me a large collection of images ranging from Palaeolithic paintings from caves and rocks in Spain to the Neolithic frescoes of Çatalhöyük in Turkey as well as those of a later date found in the excavated remains of the civilization that existed in Mohenjo Daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley, Pakistan.
My first live experience with iron oxide red paint on bare rock, free from glass screens in museums, was two years ago, in the Serra de Godall in Ulldecona, Spain. A composition of a group of images of humans and animals, mostly deer in full flight, dating from 6000-5000BC. Some figures are carrying bows and arrows and some animals appear to have been wounded, hence it could be a hunting scene. A passive figure with a long ponytail holding with both hands a stick like a broom between his/her legs is standing motionless on the left, observing the scene.
Never before had a painting had such a powerful effect on me.
From then on, I have been experimenting with iron oxide paints on bare MDF and awkward surfaces. Last summer I visited Çatalhöyük in the Anatolian planes of Konya in Turkey where, in 1960, the archaeologist James Mellaart found and started to excavate a 9000 year old city. There he dug out frescoes and statuettes that revealed extraordinary carving skills and considerable powers of observation. Unfortunately, most of the frescoes were destroyed by light and oxygen, as they were exposed to the air, although some are kept at the Anatolian Museum in Ankara. Years later Ian Hodder, another archaeologist, continued the process that Mellaart started. He applies a post-processual method to archaeology, exploring areas such as post-structuralism and neo-evolutionary theory as well as phenomenology. In his new approach, he welcomes other disciplines and I therefore plan to work next to his team and produce a series of works inspired by, and responding to, what the team is excavating in Çatalhöyük.
Read more reflexions on work process on Eva's Blog.