Armando Alvarez Bravo
The classical, always and its best.
More than a decade ago, I stated that perhaps one of the characteristics that identifies genuine actual art is its capacity to accept the classic orders. The courage to defy fashions and modes, enriching the permanent with the dreams springing from imagination. Based on this certitude, which the passage of time has only reconfirmed, I defined the spirit behind the paintings of the Chilean artist Enrique Campuzano.
That spirit has not ceased to enrich the carefully worked style of this creator, to endow his discourse with new dimensions. His exquisite oeuvre rest on several pillars. Most important among them is the literary, the poetry that originates in and draws on the fixedness and the evidence and the “otherness” of things, and has the capacity to establish, from that sumptuously formulated rendition, new thresholds and possibilities on both sides of the reality conveyed by the painter. Thus, Campusano has succeeded in transcending, through the deep authenticity of his images, the qualities of immediateness and permanence of a classicism in which the artwork is both the final exaltation of the real and a proposal based on control over the intensity of everyday objects and situations, which is transformed into testimony, invention and magic.
This painting in which composition is so rigorous, in which the detailed and impeccable drawing reaches heights of precision and expressiveness, and in which color, glazes and textures comply with the strictest canons, is offered to the viewer regularly in remarkable canvases of exquisite beauty. But that beauty does not constitute an act of aesthetic complacency whose scope may be easily justified in and by itself. It is actually a supreme statement of the determined wish for calm that animates the creator. It is a statement of his capacity to take the whole and subject it to an alchemy in which both the painter and the viewer who beholds his work know that in the image and otherness represented in such work there breathes a possibility of harmony, of balance, of discernment of what is, and of what can and must be.
The realism in Campuzano’s painting is the incarnation of a double valency: that in which the factual and imagination converge. His works imply questions, answers, and an ideal reconciliation between the spirit of man and his circumstance and contradictions. Thus, from his treatment of the nude as an exceptional manifestation of the forces and nuances of the human condition, through the rich reinvention of reality starting from the oniric rearrangement of its components, to his approach to the more permanent themes in the history of painting, such as still lifes and interiors, Campuzano portrays a world that is as personal as it is partakable.
The treatment of the human figure is exemplary, in its most classical and academic sense, in such works as “Interior with Figure”, in which his model sits on a chair, self-absorbed, completely entranced, as if he were hanging on the painter’ s gaze that perpetuates his images. This oil painting is an exponent of the artist’s awareness that even in its most absolute solitude, the human creature is always exposed to the look of “the other”. This painting contrasts with the oil painting entitled “Velázquez’s Bags”, which exemplifies Campuzano’s capacity to capture the permanent and the changing elements in the reality of things and of the passge of time. He does so in this work by featuring three paper bags with images of paintings by the Spanish master painter, which rest naturally on a plain wooden table. “Calla Lilies” ilustrates Campuzano’s elaborate sensibility to prov ide things with a different sense -without altering or distorting their nature- through the contrast with the huge flowers that stand in irregular containers, beside some books, an iron and other simple objects on a table.
These extraordinary canvases could not be more realistic. But strangely enough, the power of their realism goes beyond itself. That is the measure of their excellence. An excellence that enables us to recognize that which we already know, that which we so often overlook or ignore, while at the same time we realize that there is a lot more beyond its appearance. Thus, from his consummate mastery to perpetuate the intimacy of the human being and of things, the language of their surfaces, the kaleidoscopic possibilities of their changing impulse, so full of sudden nuances and illuminations, Campuzano, a creator who knows that painting finds its achievement in its own beauty and perfection, is a consummate artificer of something that is gratly lacking in the art of our time: the spirit of classicism in its enduring permanence, and at its best.