Gesture Against Oblivion
Delving into memory. Plunging into and being permeated by images, words, by gestures. Uncertainties that trace a history that isn’t always remembered. The question branches off in many directions. As a result, engaging in an exercise that is fed by memories requires understanding that we’re hoping to recover something that we don’t know in the present. In that sense, calling on memory takes us into a dimension where the private and public spheres go hand in hand. Memory understood as an essential part of our history—of our…(shared?) history. Does that mean the things we forget also belong to other people? What would we be without memory?
Much has been written about the need to make history, to remember and to avoid forgetting the past. In a shared and personal history there is an intermediate space of accompaniment and complicity, of simultaneous experiences that knit together a cosmogony full of grand, universal stories, and small, intimate indescribable ones. The important thing is to find the channels to access those records, the ones that show us who we are and where we come from. Sometimes historical data can help, even if it’s only to prove that in everything that has been said, the essential is always missing. Other times, they may come from unexpected encounters, like Proust’s famous moment with the madeleine; moments when something sparks a stellar voyage through far-away spaces.
It is significant that, in classical culture, one of the titans, Mnemosyne, was the personification of memory, who, together with Zeus, engendered the muses. It’s interesting to take a closer look and to reflect on how, in the act of creation or before it, we usually invoke the muses. And it’s interesting to imagine, since we can imagine it together to an extent, that the gift of creativity is engendered by memory, by a kind of memory that cannot be manipulated, a memory that is ancestral and direct but also open and accessible.
Susy Gómez (Pollença, 1964) has been doing research for years focused on a collective history that surrounds the universe of women, looking at how others see us and how we see ourselves, and with great subtlety she says to us: “Do they see us? What do they see?” It’s something she has worked on in a free form, without the need to join movements or subscribe to labels. At the same time, she has worked on and built up a personal memory. A way of getting in touch with her most intimate self, without fear, without concessions and without indoctrinations.
A few months ago, in May 2022, she presented the project “Quantum” at the Horrach Moya gallery in Palma. A series of large paintings that merge her knowledge and experience. Gómez has created a space where we can all find the path to recognizing ourselves. The iconographic universe she generates plays with images in the same way that poetry does, through nuances and revelations. It’s a pictorial space that speaks to us about everything we’ve forgotten, to remind us that what we’ve forgotten is who and what we are. We can dive into those worlds, our own, by drawing on universal and collective knowledge or personal and family knowledge. Everything is there, and it shows us the way.
What is on display now in the museum goes beyond a simple change of scale—although that is also part of it. The installation highlights a gesture and an action related to a woman’s drive, to a historical and artistic practice, understanding how to create enough freedom so that each individual can decide how far they can or want to go.
Throughout the history of art, there have been relatively few exercises of this kind: Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” or Nymphéas, now hanging in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris; Mark Rothko’s frescoes in the chapel that bears his name in Houston; Barnett Newman’s “Stations of the Cross” series at the National Gallery in Washington, or Cy Twombly’s “Lepanto” series at Museum Brandhorst in Munich. They are all a response to the desire to transcend pictorial space; they all point to what lies beyond the canvas, suggesting that what we see on the surface isn’t what we should be seing. But, somehow, despite the fact that they all belong to what we might call a universe of abstraction, they all refer to something specific: nature, religion or history itself.
It’s worth paying attention to the details and realizing that the first time an exercise of this kind has been carried out in the 21st century is at the hands of a woman. An artist’s body that doesn’t take external references as inspiration, a porous gesture that embodies universal time and space. Susy Gómez looks into the world and into her own world, and thus she gives us the opportunity to stop and see. She offers us the possibility of delving into collective and private realms. I don’t know if we’ll all be able to do it, because we’d be wise not to forget and not to want to. The past can’t be manipulated: history will only ever be what it is.
Gómez combines ancestral and intimate knowledge; she reclaims what we are in essence: union and love, without complexes, without filters or religions. Perhaps the origin of our contemporary malaise lies therein: in having forgotten so many things! Having forgotten what we are or what we should be. That’s why this exhibition is an offering—an invitation to meditate on what we need to reclaim, since that is what shapes us. Susy Gómez offers her “Gesture Against Oblivion” with the hope that we will reconnect with what makes us what we are.