Antonia Covarrubias Noe

The Painter of Lightness

From the rooftop of her Trastevere’s house Antonia looks at the city and smiles. Her sight embraces the wide cityscape, the trees and the river. She listens to the noise of the frantic city life in an early summer dusk, while a delicate breeze caresses her skin. She closes her eyes and feels light and peaceful. The world’s colors intertwine and overlap in her head, becoming an abstract and gentle mixture. Then Antonia opens her eyes and traces the first brushstroke.

Like the Impressionists, Antonia Covarrubias paints “en plain air”, with her “studio” set up on the rooftop of her house in Rome. In this way she can open herself to the world around her and get inspired by it. The sun, the wind, the smells and noises influence her perception and the work itself. In fact, Antonia lets her imagination free to elaborate her sensory experience: things, sensations and atmospheres become colors and abstract forms. Then she leaves her canvases to dry in the air, so that the elements of nature complete the work in unexpected ways.

Antonia conceives art as spiritual and aesthetic pleasure. Her works convey the freedom and joy of creativity and aim to elevate the soul above the heavy burden of everyday matters. In this regards, Covarrubias often use the word “lightness” to define her approach to art, the character of the works as well as the forms which constitute them and the sensations they raise. Lightness also informs the materials Antonia works with. For instance she uses extremely diluted oil colors, which then look like watercolors, and glass as the surface of the painting. As a result, Antonia’s works present a lively play of transparencies in which colors and forms gently reveal and hide each other. The artist creates these multi – layered painting fields spontaneously, paying attention to the suggestions that the work itself gives. In fact, according to Antonia, there is a crucial moment in the creative process, when the artist opens up her mind and soul to the work that speaks to the her and manifests  its own nature. Lines, color spots and other visual signs might not be foreseen before they “happen” on the canvas and these contingencies are inspiring to Antonia as they direct the artist toward a new and unexpected creative path. Therefore, chance informs Antonia’s art making process, also by leaving the painting drying by itself, in the air, exposed to the forces of nature, which add their signature on it. Hence, even though there is an initial specific idea, Antonia doesn’t stuck on it but, conversely, listens to the hints the works discloses while in progress. Her artistic attitude is driven by the playful logic of the “who knows…” that also characterizes the creative dialectic with the painting. Each work is unique and special and has its own particular time of growth. This is not the time of the artist, but the time of the dialogue between her and the work. It seeks and ultimately reaches a magic harmony in which every single visual element perfectly complements the others.

Antonia not only gives life to the work, but also makes the work free to live. She carefully observes the world and respects the nature of things, their essential movement, which she reproduces in her particular pictorial language: abstract signs and color layers, which expand on the surface and that she realizes exploiting the colors’ different drying times. Antonia enjoys to work with light colors such as white, green, light blue and even red. The colors’ tones are always light and soft and they move by alternating shadings and more concrete stains, both intentional and accidental. But the abstract impact of the work doesn’t exhaust its formal content: in fact a careful look can catch a quieter expressive level, made out of detailed, little figures and symbols, which emerge from the abstract – informal stratification. Once discovered, these mimetic, graphic elements determine the emotional atmosphere of the painting. These light and gentle figures softly break the formal synthesis of the work, giving each piece a particular charm and balance. They seem to evoke the place of the artist in the world: both into it and above it, engaged in a continuous discover of its multiple aspects and voices. The works represent moments of such adventurous path and celebrate the world as an unlimited source of inspiration.

 

Virginia Villari

Curator, Roma-NY

2008

Virginia Villari