The origin of abstract painting was born out of a necessity to transcend reality by substituting it by another type of reality that emerged from the mind of the artist. It was about surpassing traditional, figurative painting through shape and colour in their purest of states.
This type of art includes symbolic connotation that sinks its roots in philosophy and aesthetics produced in human thought throughout the centuries. It is a type of art captured by our eyes that we understand, above all, through intellect. It is as though every abstract work encloses a mystery that we are forced to unravel using intuition and intelligence. In this sense, any piece of abstract work is a challenge for the spectator. What presents itself to our vision is not an identifiable landscape but the interior landscape of the human soul with all of its richness and expressive diversity.
The work of Susana Lladó parts from these principles. It is concurrently abstract and figurative, even though both are intimately intertwined in significance. Both styles explain in different languages a single symbolic discourse.
Her work is charged with strong mysticism and a clear spirituality. This is especially reflected in her paintings of mountains that covered in clouds move the spectator to another world. The same happens in her paintings of trees, in which the realism of the trees opposes the reality of a vast abstract zone of brume, or of a snowed landscape that is, nevertheless, in actuality already another world. It is this hypnotic and dreamlike character of her work that brings us closer to the concept Schopenhauer has of art as pure contemplation, in which man forgets his most intimate self to form communion with something superior.
The most abstract of Susana Lladó’s paintings wants to transmit these same sensations through her use of shapes and colour.
The painting titled “Cueva” (Cave), which at first glance seems entirely abstract, allows us to guess the dense atmosphere of the interior of a cave after a paused contemplation. Our vision enters the cave slowly. It is a painting, like many by Susana Lladó´s, which makes us think of the works by Mark Rothko. We can figure that there is a rocky formation and a subtle blue line that could very well be water but what is important in this work, as it is in the others, is the act of long and relaxing contemplation.
In “Oia”, the successive layers of paint allow us a glimpse of an intense red that alludes to a submerged volcano in the Greek island of Santorini, but with a powerful aesthetic effect that allows the viewer to get timelessly lost in the detail. It is as though the successive layers play in revealing, little by little, a more profound reality. There is a subtle and interesting contrast between the upper part, of bumpy texture and informal in character, and the more geometric lower part of the painting.
In “Io”, also a work with texture, the shapes remind us of the surface of a planet as seen through a telescope. It is a suggestive perspective of another world that allows our imagination to fly to places never visited by human beings.
In “Atardecer” (Dusk), the successive layers of paint that are consistent with strata evoke the beauty of a moment lived by the painter from an intransferable personal experience and that the artist transmits to the spectator through an artistic translation of that experience. The painting is more contained and conservative when it comes to the use of pictorial effects and this gives it subtlety.
“Oia en Silencio” (Oia in Silence) possesses a compositional structure similar to that of “Atardecer”. The different pictorial strata are of wider variety, which allows the spectator’s vision to relax when it comes to observing the piece.
In “Wei”, a word that signifies “subtly”, the phase of invisibility that precedes how things are shown in reality is evoked. It is as though the ‘veil of Maya’, according to Oriental thought, would unravel and allow a step forward in all of its splendour to a beauty that until that moment one could only intuit- to a revelation of moral or intellectual truth. Such is the semantic richness of this piece.
“You” is a work intimately related to the previous piece. The title is associated with what is latent, still formless, but that which is there about to emerge and materialise into something concrete.
“Síndrome de astronauta” (Astronaut’s Syndrome) and “Vista satélite” (Satellite View) are two works that our memory will associate with photographs taken of other planets by satellites. This sensation, nevertheless, does not annul the metaphysical reflection the pictures entail.
In “Vista Aérea” (Aerial View), the painting clearly appears divided into two parts: the superior evokes the sea, with the foam of the waves or perhaps the clouds that lay below us, and the lower part is the coastline and the earth. A beautiful work of art, with its combination of the abstract and the figurative at once, permits us to recognise where we are and what we see and at the same time allows our imagination to roam free to interpret according to our own experience and knowledge.
“Sin título” (Untitled) is a very peculiar work of art. It is about a diptych in which the subject holds an important role and who at the same time is held compartmentalised by straight lines that form a graticule. It is a very interesting divergence that combines, in a single painting, emotion and reflection.
“Agujero” (Hole), as the title will indicate, is the entrance to a bottomless profundity, an enormous vortex, a black hole that transports us to another world. Densely textured, it invites the sense of touch and should invite the viewer to let go and be taken by the unknown.
“Hemisferios” (Hemispheres) is the piece through which one should most recognise the admiration of Susana Lladó for Rothko, the great American painter who looked to reach a ‘religious’ experience in his works of art. The commentary is not unwarranted however because, as it is clear, the significance of Susana Lladrós’ paintings also follows this path. Such is the multiple and enriching semantic of her work. Four fields of colour in different tonalities divide the canvas. In comparison to other pieces, the softness of tones makes the contemplation of this work more affable, and it tells us about the capacity of the artist to work in diverse styles, with different techniques.
As I have previously alluded to, Susana Lladó can also express herself through artwork that is very clearly figurative. For her, it is simply another way of expressing the same ideas, yet with another pictorial language.
The romantic sentiment is found in her series about the mountains that induce the spectator to a dreamlike world. Religion, her spiritual consolation, and the sensation of serenity and mysticism are found interlaced in these works that produce a special and indefinable impression to those who observe them.
The work of Susana Lladó is dense in its content and symbolism. For her, painting is a manifestation of a mystic and spiritual sensitivity; a way through which she can supersede verbal communication between humans. Mystery is inherent to her.It is the expression of a thought process intimately related to Oriental philosophy.
They are paintings to be understood through contemplation; as the language that best defines the communication of human sensation.
It is about the utilisation of texture that practically makes it become inherent thought. Instead of directly representing a physical object, the texture transmits the idea through its forceful intensity.
They are spiritual paintings through which it isn’t necessary to represent a tangible god because the paintings in themselves emanate the presence of divinity.
It is a new way to ameliorate the lives of human beings by beating verbal language to reach a new form of expression. Her art works as a vehicle that can be articulated in a way that only it alone can.
This way of understanding painting, despite its historical antecedents, is the contribution of Susana Lladó to contemporary art. To have moved to actuality and modernised the way of feeling art that had already been professed by the primitive artists with magical character that man exposed in prehistoric caves.