june 2006

Pablo Betti: Dematerialization of Painting

por Horacio Safons

The dematerialization of painting, (action by which the pictorial corpus is driven towards a blurred effect through the use of veiling the picture), requires an educated and sensible eye to enjoy ones physical surroundings (animate and inanimate) when reduced to their utmost state, without sacrificing the multidimensional aspect of colour and its imbrications.
Pablo Betti is without doubt one of the most subtle achievers of this very particular kind of work, who thrives for a type of painting capable of penetrating the innermost corners of matter in order to reveal it in its most brilliant essence. His paintings are iridescent veils inclined towards chromatic insinuations (insinuations, because, after all, the predominance of one colour over another disappears between one blink of the eye and the next). One cannot embrace these paintings in an immediate manner, as initially they seem to reveal a sort of nature we could call “mutating”, as they are revealed to us to a greater degree as perception dominates reason. By means of anamorphosis of a particular concept, the human mind perceives them only through a certain contemplative attitude.
We stand before what we may call “landscapes”. Yet this word in Betti’s work has a much broarder significance than the general notion; this is so because these paintings fall into the general category of landscapes, not because of the geographic representation, but because they subtly replace matter by inner self not by simply jotting down the facts perceived on canvas, but by bringing out recordings of a refined intuition. If landscapes usually aim at nature’s most vivid expressions as means of representing a unique moment, in Betti’s case his landscapes go one step further: that unique moment is a pretext to transform matter into pure luminosity and colour, transformation that results from a dialectic relation between matter, brushstrokes and the artist’s creative impulse.
When we observe a painting such as “Detrás del vidrio” ("Beyond the Glass"), a painting where all takes place in the space between the virtual coat of varnish and a background that vanishes the very moment we search for it, we become aware of the simplicity, precision and elegant moderation Betty uses to engrave a world of pure light that takes nourishment from a solid base of poetic colour. This is probably the painting that best represents the actual state of Pablo Betti’sartistic production, not only because here we find his best technical ability, his skilful use of signifiers, but because this is the piece that indicates his will to add an additional category to the universe of objects. This is because if up until nowBetti’s paintings have been precisely paintings (and this is not just a play on words), this new addition of a coat of varnish originated to unify each landscape, results in an effect of a certain elusive background, that is also of an indeterminate depth and extension, firmly held down by ones glare, and provides the painting with a gemlike substance. The canvas yields its function as matter’s physical support and acquires a coparticipating entity with the landscape, what’s more, it evokes the landscape.
It is important to insist on this painting “Detrás del Vidrio” (“Beyond the Glass”), because as in other canvases of similar dimensions, we can elucidate certain characters (in the sense of writing) which relate to a complex pictorial system that appears as a fact, simple and direct, but has what we mentioned at the beginning, that is, chromatic insinuations, which can only be accessed by a shrewd look, an ability to contemplate.
To slide ones glance along this laminated surface, entails gathering matter and colour’s genetic code, reconstructing from a series of features such as dots, clots, irregular boarders, transparencies, juxtaposed features, etc., a story that gesture and concept, intuition and intention, desire and mimesis load with a sense of pictorial delight.

June 2006
Horacio Safons*
*Horacio Safons is currently Honorary President of the Argentine Art Critics Society