Pauline Cristi | Entre vivido y simbólico

By Francesco Scagliola / Italy.

The Chilean Visual Artist Pauline Cristi has passed all her life in constant contact with nature, developing a strong admiration to the lives of fishermen. Today represents nature, the meticulous study of “boats” and the lives of these brave characters through a style that leaves aside the landscape and costumbrist scenes, end in a dimension where reality powerfully mixes with imagination and the symbol.

If I convey a mood, which often is the mood of the character with whom I talked, with color, with stripes, with elements that I put to it. But it is also my mood.

“Sir!… Sir!” Pauline yells to a busy fisherman picking up his nets and probably soaked after a whole night at the sea. “Sir…” now he hears her. “Excuse me sir – she asks respectfully- I would like to take a picture of your boat. Would you allow me to do it?” After the snapshot, perhaps, you could stablish another interesting conversation. Crossing with another fascinating history. “But please Miss, go on!” He answers immediately inviting her with his hand. “You can not imagine how well it was for me last night” there it is. Just need to start a conversation with him: “really? – Yes miss. A lot of money…”

The scene could easily refer to one of the many Sundays enjoyed with the family by walking on the coast near Concepcion. At Talcahuano or Caleta Tumbas, for example. Or it could have happened during some vacations years ago in a foggy morning in Chiloe, or during a sunny morning in Algarrobo or Tongoy. Because, for Pauline Cristi, Chilean painter, the fascination for the fishermen existence is something of all lifetime. But what is also true is that, through a very human connection – asks, click, narration- the creative path usually begins that leads her –for days, weeks or months later-to scrutinize through hundreds of photos of boats archived for years to finally decide on one in particular. “This one” she thinks.

“I always say: Let’s see, on this boat a character dwelled and maybe he was fishing all night. Did he catch anything? Did something happen to him? Is he a sad fisherman who has a bad life? Or maybe he is an extremely happy fisherman.” There is a story – Pauline continues- behind the boats. Sometimes is sad, sometimes is magic, and sometimes is about strength. Because I’m very interested in human being and at the bottom, behind that boat, there is a person who lived it. ”

© Pauline Cristi
© Pauline Cristi

However, there is something essential that needs to be clear out before everything: In the boats of Pauline never appear human figures.

In fact it is true that – after preparing the oils and grab the spatula- the artist always tries to pour out on the canvas this little piece of existence with which she was cross; It is also fundamental to stress as do not simply copying the reality in looking for a costumbrist representation. On the opposite: In Pauline Cristi’s works the image of the boat is abstracted, it mixed with the imagination itself of the painter and her feelings; it becomes a metaphor and finally becomes symbol of the character and history that dwelled.

“Humans never appear -confirms the painter- If I convey a mood, which often is the mood of the character with whom I talked, with color, with stripes, with elements that I put to it. But it is also my mood. Maybe a story told by a fisherman long time ago stayed spinning on my head. For example, once I started to talk with one who was cleaning his boat and said: “I’ am living a wonderful life.” He started to talk about his children, about how fascinating is fishing for him, and that he did not care to get soaked… So –she concludes- I named that boat as Strength”.

It seems then that Pauline’s boats are configured as an allegorical and abstract anthropological research; real traces of a life in which, after all, we are passing through. Some unstable sediment between reality and symbol, if on the one hand overcome to a powerful mixture of memory and imagination, on the other hand are anchored to an organized tangible: In fact Pauline combines the oil paintings with mixture technique that allows her to insert in her canvas residue materials collected along all her career. And, clearly, the number of boats, it is in most cases, collected sand just steps from the boats themselves.

© Pauline Cristi
© Pauline Cristi

“I take the photo and also grab sand of the place-underlines the painter-and then I put in the boat the same sand. For example, this is a boat that was at Chiloe: I took the photo and I bought some sand with me. Because an existing bond with the nature itself is very interesting for me”.

A union that it had already been developing both along the life of the artist –accustomed since childhood to be related to it- as the pictorial production -boats are inserted in some way in an imaginary bucolic- it is true indeed, it is sublimated in the last works of Pauline content in the series Imágenes imaginarias.

“I started with another issue that initially was called Entre cierro los ojos, because I was attracted to nature, I was taking pictures, the desert, a forest, then I squinted my eyes and painted what I was seeing in that moment: The movement of the leaves, and suddenly a ray of light get in the middle. The landscape to the canvas was abstracted. So today– She ends- the series is called Imágenes imaginarias.

© Pauline Cristi
© Pauline Cristi

Today Pauline Cristi is still working on these two projects, which soon will be exhibited at the Spectrum fair in Miami, from 2 to 6 December, in an individual exhibition at the Exhibition Hall Club Ecuestre Cachagua (January 23 to February 21) – where the same frontier dimension is investigated; where the heard mixed with the lived, and what is remembered and imagined; where reality intersects with the reverie, in which the organic takes part the abstract and where a painting emerges of a photograph. Where the oil is stirred with sand like the human being gets confused with the whole nature. Where, in brief, at the same time there is a presence and an absence in a single footprint: A personal and shared experience.

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