Elisa Estrada Space
Curated by Eliana Hidalgo
On April 1, 2020, a few weeks after pandemic lock-down began, Anthony Arrobo (Guayaquil, 1988) decided to assiduously paint a small watercolor every day, without having anything specific in mind about the eventual fate of this series.
Like On Kawara’s Date Paintings, the artist worked and dated each work in his notebook over the span of a day. This repetitive exercise, where everyday discipline modulates the meaning of production, also has multiple antecedents in local art, from Un arte a día (2002-2003) by Marcelo Aguirre to the series It’s Raining Outside (2018) by Pablo Cardoso.
In Blue in Green, its minimalist and abstract language stands out for its simplicity. Arrobo creates an entire poetic world focused on the exploration of color, nothing strange considering that his work has always shown interest in the formal aspects of painting and sculpture. From his early works, the artist manifests a desire to play with traditional materials used throughout the history of art, as in his work Layers 2 (2010), a large ream of A1-sized papers on which he only paints the edges, with care and precision to achieve the range of the rainbow, ignoring in this gesture the traditional role of paper as a support. Ten years later, we find ourselves again with a proposal that at first glance seems like a set of simple chromatic exercises, but we now discover a new, more spontaneous and random facet.
As in jazz, the artist flows through his experimentation and improvisation to create the watercolors that fill the gallery. That is why the title Blue in Green, taken from a song by Miles Davis, is not coincidental and, more than a relationship with color, it is that continuous and tireless exploratory search with watercolor. His process consisted of approaching the cardboard “without having a clear notion of what he was going to paint… Drawing, tracing measurements and playing with color were the only premises,” says Arrobo. Within this sea of color we find Abril, a work painted in black that arises as a need to let oneself be carried away “by a composition closer to Brazilian concretism to indicate great silences in the diary.”
During the period in which the exhibition began to be organized, large-scale works emerged, such as Red and Blue Center or Blue in Green, where the motivation was to take those chromatic gradations of the previous months to another level of experimentation and visuality, and where color “began emancipation.” These abstractions do not refer to anything more than the effects of the pigment. As Frank Stella said, “what you see is what it is.”
In this process and daily discipline developed by the artist more than a year ago, color has symbolically acquired the qualities of time, transforming these walls into a log of his experience during confinement. These chromatic fields are the reflection of a specific moment, one in which the artist found himself present.