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 Dr. ANI VENKOVA (art critic) about the Vertex exhibition
/Rakursi Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria, 21.03.- 13.04. 2023/, a critical studie published in the Bulgarian portal for culture, art and society, translated from Bulgarian/ 

       What is ‘Vertex’? Highest point, the apex? Isn't the Vertex what we all aspire to, what we've been searching for all our life? The highest form of ourselves, the best version of the Self.

And if we can not achieve perfection within our own existence, do we not seek it in what we create, in sublimated creative energy? It seems to me that Elitsa Baramó's searches are approaching such a goal...

       The current exhibition Vertex in Rakursi Art Gallery is part of the author's Sediment process project and the so called aesthetics of slow motion. The artist develops a pictorial concept, through which she builds a structure from cross- and longitudinal sections of one or several forms by connecting them in a new configuration. The result resembles several freeze frames of a moving two-dimensional object in space, which, placed side by side in a certain cadence, create three-dimensionality and a sense of movement of the object.

       Vertex is the 5-th stage of the concept, which complements and develops the previous ones (The Architect, Passing and Remaining Landscapes, the art film Shared Spaces and Guardian Angels), but also differs from them in several essential ways. In order for the viewer to get an idea of the project that has been developed for many years, the present exhibition includes several compositions from the previous sub-projects: ‘An Italian Style Family’ and ‘Muse’ from The Architect project, ‘Bucephalus’ and ‘Elusive’ from Guardian Angels project. In them, the structure of the individual sections, through which the form is built, is clearly highlighted, the relatively monochrome color, the frugal palette, the search for a sculptural manifestation, the illusion of movement, which are basic principles in the structuring of a composition from the previous sub-projects (with the exception of Passing and Remaining Landscapes).

       In the Vertex project, the author expands the boundaries of her research, unfolds and transforms the visual language of the Sediment process concept. With the exception of a few works that have a similar style (‘Striving /Vertex/’, ‘The Skaian Gates /Palindrome/’, ‘Free Thinker’), the compositions in the current project have a stylistic development, they include a richer color. In some of them, the visual language of the Sediment Process is fundamental, elsewhere implied or combined with other techniques in search of harmony (‘The Battle Dance of Dawn’, ‘Departure’, ‘Mirror Images’, ‘Serendipity’, ‘Phantasms /Unconscious Desires/’), and for example in ‘Objects and Ideals’ for instance it is excluded as a pictorial concept. The Vertex project is characterized by a greater formal variety of the artistic language used. In some of the works, the painting approach dominates or is equal to the conceptual structure, without disturbing the balance between them.

       Baramó does not directly provide us with her concepts decoded. She does not present us with simplified and easily digestible visual ideas. (The very choice of subject-matter does not presuppose simplification.) Their decoding requires from the viewer reciprocity and depth in reading the message, similar to the author's when creating the works, with the aim of long-term communication with them. Symbols are veiled, messages are implied and presented in an associative way, the figurative is often transformed beyond recognition. But the author whispers a code to us to unravel them...She guides us by using a visual or textual metaphor.
       Her works provoke our logical thinking. Time in them is

non-linear. Past, present, and future meet at one point, on one axis. We are involved in mental puzzles, riddles and interpretations. Our cognitive abilities recognize in the same image at the same time a horse and a heart (Bucephalus). But these are allegories of striving and rush, and resonance... In another composition, we see the outlines of a shell, a dove, a helmet, but in the essence of these symbols are war and peace, the self-destructive ability of humankind (The Shell of the Dove). Silhouettes on pedestals resembling chess pieces peer into their transformed reflections to sparkle at once and interflow (Mirror Images). The prototype is simplified, black and white, veracious. We often identify with the refined image in the mirror. We become the product of our own desires, aspirations, longings that define our identity. However, is this product an improved version of us, or a victim of the unattainable and fake that destroys our essence?

       Applying a synthetic method on several levels, the author combines figurative and non-figurative. Blurring the boundaries of the form (or the form itself), it acquires fluidity, gradually transforming into abstraction. (Spicy Landscape /Distance/, Serene Axis). The image is built by mixing separate elements and techniques – drawing and painting, adding and removing paint, blurred and strictly fixed outlines – another method that determines the specificity of Elitsa Baramó's works from the Sediment Process project. Analyzing the structure, she deconstructs the form into individual fragments, which then she re-constructs in a different sequence and logic, not subject to the law of gravity. The object, composed of several forms, with different points of view in certain compositions, rotates in space in one or several directions.

       These two opposite, but also complementary, approaches to painting matter (analytical and synthetic) form Elitsa Baramó's unique style and place her work in the field of contemporary art.

       Elitsa Baramó doesn't interpret topics from our surrounding reality. The transience of being with its conditionality are not the subject of research in her creation. Social engagement is present, but not political discourse. Exceptions are two paintings, dedicated to war. Objects and Ideals and The Shell of the Dove, which are a reaction to the paradox, to aggression and destruction, to which the artist does not remain indifferent. But what really excites Elitsa is the metaphysical perspective of reality – what happens beyond the visible, the familiar; what is inaccessible to the senses. The unfolding of the Divine principle into superhuman manifestation. "Vertex" means culmination, a high point in the spiral staircase of our realized ideals and dreams, goals, aspirations and desires. Zenith. Vertex is also a change (from Lat. - vertere) through the power of free will. Intersection of earthly and divine, knowledge and continuity.

       Nor the somatic in its material dimension is an object in the art of Elitsa Baramó in the present exhibition. Presented as a generalized image, a conduit of ideas or a messenger inhabiting parallel worlds, androgynous, man is present in his highest projection of deep awareness, as an individual with free will.

       Baramó's paintings vibrate and resonate, possessing subtle vibrations that penetrate deep into the senses. They are cosmic landscapes, dreams. The depicted matter is not the only reality, for there are slits in it that lead to another dimension. They are a portal from one space to another. They are disembodied, enigmatic incarnations, where truth is not absolute, but implied.

THE DOUBLE-PERPLEX-VISUAL SEDIMENTATIONS, RHYTHMOCHROMIES AND SILHOUETTE ALLEGORIES* OF BARAMÓ in the Vertex exhibition /Rakursi Art Gallery, Sofia, 2023/,a study from Prof. KRASIMIR DELCHEV /DSc. in Philosophical sciences, Sofia University/


       In this exhibition, which is the fifth phase of her project The Sediment Process, the author Baramó carries out a kind of ‘Fruit-Gathering’** of her long-standing creative pursuits.

       The term perplexity (ambiguity, entanglement, bewilderment), concerning the audience's reaction while the perceiving a work of art, was introduced by Arnold Gehlen at the end of the 20th century in his analysis of Fauvism and Cubism in his book Time pictures. On the sociology and aesthetics of modern painting. (1960) /Zeit-Bilder. Zur Soziologie und Ästhetik der modernen Malerei./. However, it is also valid for post-modern and contemporary art, from Duchamp onwards.

       With his expression perplexity-effect Gehlen refers to the inevitable confusion due to the interference of two heterogeneous contents and interpretations, in the same place, about the same thing. This effect makes aesthetic judgment difficult, leading to an inability to decisively judge what we actually see as a result of ambiguity and hesitation. With the Fauvists, the effect is achieved by freeing color from the imitation of external reality, and with the Cubists by disassembling the external form through the simultaneous superimposition of several different views from multiple points of view of the same thing, intertwined on one and the same place.

       In Baramó's exhibition, we are dealing with a double perplexity, as the interference encompasses both color and form.

       There is a color construction of the space going synchronously with the sediment fluctuations. The background is predominantly dark to translucent in most paintings, and in two of them it is white.

       Silhouette allegoreses are present in: ‘Striving /Vertex/’, ‘Serendipity’, ‘Objects and Ideals’***, ‘Desires, Bitten Apples’ and ‘Elusive’, because they reflect abstract concepts.

       Contrary to the opinion of Tino Seghal, who participated in the 2005 Venice Biennale, according to whom ‘paintings should be smart, they should not be beautiful’ –  those of Baramó are both smart and beautiful. In them, we observe, in addition to color vibrations and sedimentations, also a special serpentine beauty*** –  radically different from the glamorous and flashy, defiant, but stupid beauty of the kitsch artifacts, which found a shelter in the Popart.

       At the same time, the beauty in question is muted and neutralized, due to the laceration of space with slits through which Nothingness gapes, the transience of all terminal sensory forms, their fleetingness, ephemerality and doom to impermanence in time and movement. Even the light that creates them, destroys them, and unravels them. They fade both as landscapes and in memory.

       Due to the fact that the edges of the perforations are sometimes sharp and jagged, this also introduces a certain feeling on an emotional level of engagement or sinister – which is not missing in some sculptures of Henry Moore, who internalized in his creation the holes in the plastic language, along with the wickedness of things.

       Baramó is aware of these risks and does not go overboard with sharp corners and jagged contours. On the contrary, in her works dominate the roundness and serpentine beauty that have something in common with Leda by Leonardo****.

in the composition "The Skaian Gates /Palindrome/" 

S   A   T   O   R
A   R   E   P   O
T   E   N   E   T
O   P   E   R   A
R   O   T   A   S

       The palindrome is present in perfect form in the magic square Sator Arepo found in Pliny. Consisting of five letters arranged in five lines, so that they can be read left-to-right or right-to-left, as well as vertically top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top, without changing the word order, the essence of the words and their meaning. It is therefore primarily a palindrome, more advanced than many others…

       It is possible that the formula alludes to the "space wheel" in general.

       Alchemists and esotericists have interpreted in all possible ways the Latin phrase in question SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS / the sower forward (finally, at the end of his fields, behind the plough) / holds in his hands (guides) / the wheels / of the work. The Sower probably symbolizes the Creator, disposing and sowing the seeds of Everything?!

       Different interpretations simultaneously combine the symbolism of the letter itself, the symbolism of the number traditionally attributed to each letter, and the symbolism of color, depending on what background the letter stands out against – black or white.

In this magic square, hiding the creative wheels (ROTAS), some people are seeing the cosmogenic wedding of Fire and Water, giving rise to the creation. Some interpreters note that the word TENET /holds/, written on the middle vertical and horizontal line, forms a cross. This word also means rule. In the meaning of the word and the central place it takes they see an indication that the cross rules the world. It gives meaning and connection (It symbo-lizes the four directions, the vertical being the spiritual beginning, and the horizontal – the material one...). In astrological traditions, the square represents the earth, matter, limitation, and the circle or sphere represents the sky, the infinite, and the universal.


* Allegory /word, expression, image in which one thing is said and another is understood. Expressing an abstract concept with a concrete image/ makes a connection between a concept and representation /visual or verbal/. Because the author visualizes abstract concepts, her allegories are symbolic, and the symbol has multiple references.

**A reference to ‘Fruit-Gathering’ /1916/ – a collection of poems by Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian writer, poet, philosopher,  composer, public figure, who profoundly changed Bengali culture at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

*** ‘Objects and Ideals’: In this composition the author refers to a fragment of Novalis /representative of early German literary romanticism/, and namely: ‘We look everywhere for the unconditional, but we find only things.’ /Wir suchen das Unbedingte und finden nur Dinge./

**** Serpentine beauty, a concept of Renaissance painting and mannerism, associated with the golden section.
(from Latin: serpens - "snake") can refer to: /noun/ sharp turns on a road on steep slopes; /adj./ spiral curved

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