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Who is Raquel?

by Marcelin Pleynet
Special to Fashionlines

Raquel's paintings are not easy to see, not only because the artist does not exhibit them easily, but because they partake of a metaphsyical ambition that our new century is not really ready to welcome. If we explain to someone who has not seen the books on which she has worked for the "Orange Export Ltd" that Raquels paintings are huge paintings that are 4 meters long by 3 meters high, I do not think however that it would give an idea of the very peculiar place that Raquel's painting takes up, but we will emphasize the importance - and it will surely make sense - that we ought to give to the double adequacy between paintings/books and books/paintings in her work.

Raquel's pictorial work is like no other and more difficult than no other if I may so. The huge colourful fields that she puts forward confound the screen of painting in the sense that, even abstract, painting is always, in one way or another, a representation. Raquel mainly applies herself to defeating this representation even abstract and to that end it is also necessary to confound all manifestations of colour that would be too expressive. That is how most of her works suggest vast fields of colours that are enigmatic, that at first are enigmatic in the sense that the prominence of colour goes through the referential charge of its birth and its burying. This effect by substraction finds itself intensified due to the size of the painting, the huge dimensions of the painting that most of the time extend beyond the field of vision, to the right, to the left, higthwise and lengthwise, thus doing away with all possible confusion between the works and the painting and consequently all possible representation.

Clement Greenberg, the American art critic claims that all limited surface is a painting. Raquel seems to apply herself to delimiting the surface that extends beyond the field of vision from all sides , all the way to this whispered depth of colour, in order to signify that the connection of the artist, of the painter, is not with the painting itself (since it can only be a representation) nor with the measure of the painting but with an excessiveness that belongs only to the artist and that colour magnifies. Raquel seems to prefer a more abstract order, a more abstract and less immediately measurable reference, to tradition and to the referential order of the painting.

With her work, the order of the painting seems to free itself from the lists and collections of objects and of figures organized in scenes, to escape the limits of nomenclatures, in order to identify itself with the coloured breath of the voice and with the coloratura as tessitura of a nomination, the reference of which is not books but The Book (it is in this manner that the English designate the Bible, "The Book"). This explains no doubt that the work that Raquel achieved with Edmond Jabès is among the most successful of all. But let us be clear : the reference to to The Book (which was, let us not forget, the source of almost all iconography of western painting) can only be an abstract reference in the creation of these paintings and as it inevitably encompasses all other books, it manifests the excessiveness, the immoderation of the The Book.

Thus the artist moves from this astonishing collection of books, in so far as we can refer to them as books, to the space with no beginning nor end in the coloratura of words, as one who thinks thoughts, as one who interprets and thinks thoughts and lives on the coloured breath where the letters of interpretation shine.

The Origin of the Work

Raquel's evolution
Raquel's work is spontaneous. It obeys no dogma but each stage of her work is preceded by a period of silence corresponding to a moment of intense reflection.

The first period of her work, that of monochrome paintings using dark colors, stretched over 1970 to1983.

The originality of this ascetic practice was due to : large formats (3 meters X 6 meters), the paintings were grouped in diptychs or triptychs opposing 2-3 close colors the jonction of which, marked by a limit, created a work on difference.

Main exhibits :
1976 - Galerie Arnaud - Paris 1982 - ARC Modern art museum of the city of Paris 1983- 1984 Twenty years of painting in France * Berlin National Museum * Mayence Museum * Tubingen Museum

Very slowly, Raquel, modulated monochrome but not in a manner that would allow one to variations assimilate her style with impressionism or nuagisme.

Indeed, the expressed and achieved vibration stemmed from interiority.

Main exhibits :
1984 - Galerie Breteau - Paris 1990 - Astride Parades Foundation, Caracas

Raquel made this modulation evolve towards polychromy, but her search for unity, her passion for "oneness" took over and Raquel's universe remained static.

Main exhibits :
2000 - Galerie de L'ADP (Air Ports of Paris)

As of 2000 and thereafter Raquel's universe was truely the cosmos in prey to evolution.

The irruption of colors materialises a diagonal axis that moves through space going from the upper top right portion of the painting on the right and all the way down towards the left.

This scriptural surge associated first blue with its green declension, then both colors with red the outpouring of which marks her recent work with rawness.

It is possible that in works to come the tension created by the diagonal movement lines will tend to become more nuanced.





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