The Artistry of Gil Mares
Trends in the arts are cottage industries of their own. Critics and academics and the marketers of fashion are driven to coin names and brand individuals and styles. A process that sometimes muddies our understanding of art as much as it informs it. Some artists confound and outrun attempts to quantify and pigeonhole their unique vision and talent. Gil Mares is such an artist.
His photographs are evocative, confined intensities. Kingdoms of color and light and shape, found in what is disguised as mundane sensory information,found in what is affixed to the ordinary objects and surfaces of our world:
What appears to the average eye as a beaten and barnacled bow of a ship
yields brilliant, abstracted panels of light and color in intricately orchestrated arrangements.
A tattered, peeling window on an old, abandoned building becomes a luminous phantasm, providing the focus for a previously overlooked psychic and sensory reality. A found community of forms. A population of objects in newly-acknowledged relationship.
Gil Mares' aesthetic is predicated on the power of exclusion. Knowing exactly what needs to be left out of the field of artistic apprehension. The result is that only the essential elements remain and resonated within the boundaries of what is viewed. It is a confinement of context and the interrelationships between objects in a field of space, until their "apparentness" as real things dissolves into vibrant abstraction. This is his unique visual idiom.
His sensibility revels in the possibilities of harmonized disparities. His elegant, discriminating sentience exposes only the most intense artistic reality.
His eye is always "right." His work manifests that quality of style so pure that the viewer becomes one with what is viewed. So pure, that the personality of the artist is exactly equal to the artistic expression. There are no externals to intrude upon the authority of what is presented.
For all practical purposes, his is an extinction of self in service of the intensely seen world, intensely felt. He and we are there in absentia. It is a purity that is fed by the precision of his artistic humility. He is devoted to the subject and its most perfected expression, more than to the ego that needs to create.
The control is so inconspicuous, the process so transparent, that the elements communicate only their artistic reality. The works never come across as stagy. As sets of particulars that force some contrived expression, or manufacture some "statement of ideas" about what art is supposed to be, or satisfy expectations that are merely topical or trendy, pretty or posed.
These windows he is presenting us open into worlds we recognize as brilliant locations of visual ecstasy. It is as if we were recognizing or remembering what we have always known as the beauty that is always around us, just occurring beyond our notice. As if we, too, would have seen it this way, even though we weren't the ones to see it first.
T. S. Eliot said that, with the arrival of the truly new, ". . . art never improves, but . . . the material of art is never quite the same." I don not propose to classify Gil Mares' work or compare it to others'. I will leave such comparisons for those whose training and inclination it is to expose and expound upon such qualities and concerns. His artistry defies simple or singular elucidation. The works represent a range of subjects, and a rich and distinctive vision. The material of his art is like no other. It is particular, but not eccentric. Exquisite, not artificial. His work is accessible, but not ordinary. The caliber of his talent is undeniable and authentic.
The visual arts move us without words. Paraphrase and explanation are poor substitutes for the beauty and clarity found in the works themselves.
These photographs are Gil Mares' gift to every soul and spirit hungry to see through the practical and rudimentary veneer of the "sensible" world into a deeper existence. To arrive at the house of our higher senses. To explore a more brilliant temporality.
Swim in these atmospheres! Immerse yourself in the metaphysics of these forms! In the sensed presences stirring beneath surfaces! In the magic of this illuminated terrain and these deeply felt immensities!
Enjoy his work. His gift.