Impossible Figures


Text by Vicente Aguilera Cerni for the “Figuras Imposibles” exhibition
that took place in the Galería de L’Université de París in September 1979.

Among the various points of view used to throw light on artistic activity in general, one of them seems pertinent to us, when we approach the proposal in the works of José María Yturralde. This distinction could be the one that marks the notions of “art” and “aesthetics”.

If beauty were, for any human work, the interpretation, reorganization, or correction of beauty as it appears in nature, becoming itself the source of these values (which in turn is important and valid, aside from the purely quantitative), such a concept would lead to a selective and technical process being performed. In this way, the profession of artists– painters, sculptors, architects, designers, etc.-, is linked, enabling the use of certain operations, at the technological levels of a specific society. The way the different notions of beauty and the suitability of the techniques fit together will determine the artistic quality of the work.

However, in our industrial and technical age the values of art have fallen into a crisis; its qualitative essence is up against a cultural system heavily oppressed by an economic system in which the quantity is inseparable not only from its industrial supports but even less from its production of values. And this dialectic between qualitative and quantitative becomes one of the basic causes that have provoked insecurity, doubt and antagonism in making art.

As Julio Carlo Argan said: “It is a question of knowing whether the capitalist-industrial system throws art into crisis only as a set of techniques that do not yield to its technology, or equally, through art at its aesthetic value though contradictory to its own set of values.”

So, if aesthetics acquire vitality through becoming more substantial with the notion of value, and if art is disrupted by its rupture with the technological system and its cultural consequences, what paths are left to us to bridge this chasm and begin to move towards a new model that is not based on repetition and arbitrariness?

It is necessary to point out that Yturralde is among the few artists that have put forward this question seriously. We can also say that his answer is very clear: to renew artistic activity in its relations with science. For this reason, it springs implicitly from the assumption that art is to technique what aesthetics is to science. Consequently and logically his work is found listed under that directed towards the original sources, according to the concept that would identify aesthetics with the science of art, as a science of the beauty that was, clearly, the science of art.

But Yturralde is an artist, not a philosopher, though inspired in a philosophical background. It must be said that when he supports himself with science he does it empirically, proposing systems created by virtue of a behavioural model. The artistic behaviour of Yturralde, his search for aesthetics, becomes specifically a methodology, even if this method is not aimed directly at the technical application of his searches, but rather at the structural foundations of the aesthetic phenomenon. This is the equivalent of saying that if he breaks with the tradition of the widest sections of contemporary art, it is because he is consciously joining other perhaps less numerous paths, though these are still active in the research into the foundations that would be necessary according to the data that give shape to the current concepts of the world, reality and knowledge.

From geometric rationality to the psychology of perception, from space-time to the agreement with the laws of nature, Yturralde moves irresistibly towards the creation of a consciousness for the appreciation of aesthetes. This implies a new project where the objects created, whatever their dimensionality and their universe, claim for the humane a universal horizon, its agreement with nature, and its search for plenitude,