Galeria Horrach Moya
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Nota de Prensa

museum walls: the seven vermeers

Girbent returns here to one of his favourite themes: his fascination with museums and with the Western pictorial tradition.

With this proposal, Girbent leaves aside the theme of the replica understood as a clone capable of functioning as a perceptually indistinguishable substitute for the original. The plan is now a different one, of a quite different nature: the artist is not considering the exact copy of a Vermeer but the representation/repetition of a series of carefully chosen walls: specifically, fragments (190x190 cm) of walls from various museums around the world. In this case, walls displaying the seven most unanimously acclaimed Vermeer masterpieces.

It follows that the aim here is not the replication of an object, but of an environment. What Girbent paints here is a landscape? or something halfway between a landscape and a still life. A still life that includes a painting, that is, a painted painting (we cannot help shuddering when we sense how vertiginous this recursion could be). On the other hand, some of the Vermeer paintings depicted include painted pictures...

What Girbent puts between the painted frame of the depicted masterpiece and the frame (if any) of his own physical painting - that is, between the two boundaries of the two paintings, the painted and the real - is the world.

The artist paints something that does not seem, at first sight, innovative at all: a fragment of space/time illuminated by a certain light: a duration, as Bergson would say? but, as we shall see, a duration with an air of eternity.

By replicating the fragment of wall and the painting it contains, the artist paints on this occasion an aspect of that painting: the artist renounces the replica of the absolute object to capture a point of view - a gaze - on that object. It seems clear that this takes us back to the precepts of Impressionist painting... but Girbent avoids this implication by eliminating from his painting everything that is not essential, all distractions: he decides to work with only three elements - painting, frame, wall - and to repeat them in real size, and then to assemble them perfectly by means of the pertinent effects of light, creating a powerful optical effect, a visual sensation close to trompe l'oeil.

If we analyze the operation carefully enough, we realize that it is more about construction than printing: in fact, the artist first focuses on the masterpiece, which he places in the center of his canvas in its original dimensions. Then, around the painting will emerge, in proportion, a frame... and around the frame, the wall, that is, the space: a space (and a time) in which the masterpiece is embedded and of which it forms part... A world has emerged from a center, has been woven around a vortex, the painted painting: a star endowed with its own magnetic field, its own power of attraction.

We are faced with an interesting middle ground achieved between two apparently antagonistic models: painted instant versus timeless essentialism. The painted pictures embedded in these works by Girbent are part of a sensitive instant captured in the inexorable course of time: a duration we had said... but at the same time these paintings exude timelessness: in their serene silence and their radical essentiality they refer to the eternal.

These are not the only fortunate syntheses (between landscape and still life, between impression and essentiality, between instant and timelessness) that the artist achieves in this series. Girbent also seems to have reached a very interesting middle ground between tradition and the contemporary: it cannot be ruled out that this is precisely where his irreducible singularity lies.

Arturo Castro