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Patricia Aguilera
Edge: Shadow and Substance

"Our visual understanding of the world is not as accurate and complete as it seems"
—N. Chater.

Edge is a series of paintings. It synthesizes sensations and ideas through color and expression in the strokes. Through the paintings, I describe my perception of certain sensations. In a moment of altered perception where the environment intervenes in the work, I explore specific themes in painting, as well as the feelings and emotions that underlie my ideas.

Color emits a magnetic resonance, a vibration, which I find enigmatic beyond my current understanding of the phenomenon. In my painting, color creates form and generates an atmosphere based on its relationships. I perceive concepts and ideas through color, which have both physical and spiritual significance in my life. Color evokes in me a number of sensations, such as intrigue, irritation, hope and reverie. However, the perception of color is subjective and varies greatly from person to person, so it is rarely a universal experience. These works aim to offer a better understanding of the meaning of color.

Thinking these past few months about perception, I have been looking for ways to capture in paint and make accessible sensory experiences I have had. An experience with meditation instilled a sense of coordination between the aesthetic and semantic aspects of my painting. During my contemplation of "Expansion and Light", I established a system of interconnected nodes using charcoal: dark lines that emerge from my perceptions and explorations. They are an integral part of the work rather than a deliberate expression of the composition. These marks permeate the room, extending beyond the canvas and onto the walls. For me, there is a connection between the meditation mantra and its exploration of form and perception. It marks a shift in my painting process because I adopted a new approach that allows me to create something genuine beyond my initial considerations. This is how, in my words, "painting finds me and reveals to me a meaning I was unaware of at first".

For human beings, the pleasurable, the soothing and the disturbing are distinguishable in hearing from the time they are babies: long before they can visually discriminate between them with any subtlety (Tuan, 1975). With deafness, life seems frozen and time lacks progression. Space itself contracts, because our experience is greatly expanded by the auditory sense that provides information about the world beyond the visual field (Tuan, 1975).

Touch is the direct experience of the world as a system of resistances and pressures that persuade us of the existence of a reality independent of our imaginations. "Seeing is not yet believing" (Tuan, 1975). Without sight, a person can still operate with a high degree of efficiency in the world, but without the sense of touch it is doubtful whether he or she can survive (Tuan, 1975). According to Yi-Fu Tuan, author of Topophilia, of the five senses, the human being is more consciously dependent on sight to make his way in the world than on the other senses, much more detailed and spatially specific information comes to him through the eyes than through the sensory systems of hearing, smell, taste and touch (Tuan, 1975).

The senses are an input and output of information. Sensations, emotions and interpretation of the sensory are all part of the construction of reality. Perception is an incredibly rich and subtle process of inference: the brain is carefully piecing together the best story it can about how the world might be, to explain the stirrings of its sensory organs (Chater, 2018). Hermann von Helmholtz, a German physician, physicist and philosopher, realised as early as 1867, before psychology had become a distinct field of study, that perception requires deciphering the meaning of a set of clues, each of which is of little significance when considered in isolation (Chater, 2018).

For me, to be an artist is to transit between senses. In relation to my work, some influences function as a relationship between two or more senses: auditory-visual; visual-touch; temperature-visual, where the medium functions as an extension of my consciousness. I believe that an elemental function is personal exploration in the work because it opens up possibilities and allows for panoramas through the imagination. My work develops organically through the painting process, starting with color and allowing the paint to point to the subject. I create lines, shapes and silhouettes to establish an atmosphere that envelops me and suggests a direction. As I encounter each work, an idea emerges in my mind that gives me clarity about the painting. I then develop the work around the idea, taking into account the emotions that accompany it.

"Untitled I" and "Untitled II" were created during a crucial moment in my life, when my imagination intersected with my perception. The challenge of remaining conscious made me attribute new meanings to figuration and color. This resulted in the placement of figures on the canvas while imagining that each decision made had a direct effect on the surrounding environment. The integration of oil and charcoal allows for an interaction between the components, resulting in an interconnected composition.

In "Untitled I", bees, flies and ants cross the gestures and lines of the painting like a path, evoking the canvas as the creator of an environment that transcends the sense of space. It was then that I began to believe that what was proposed on the canvas had a direct effect on the environment, and I decided to create from this sensation. This work shows perceptual rings. It is my interpretation of the conditions that shape my life. Through the tracing of these forms, I perceive that my circumstances have changed. It is a tactile work that kept me in touch with reality. The sensations that this work produced in me were the starting point for the series. The title of the series plays with the double meaning of "edge": the uneasy feeling of "being on the edge" and "having an edge", having an advantage.

In "Gratitude", translucent layers of paint capture my sense of abundance. Waves of pastels and dots appear across the canvas, creating an aura. The lines represent energy fields. Genesis shows the movement of elements falling into place. For me, this work represents a beginning. From the Greek Genesis, Greek translation of the Hebrew bĕrēʾshith, traditionally translated as "in the beginning" or "origin", it represents the beginning of a movement or an idea. "Combustion" brings together elements present in smoke. The abrupt lines evoke burnt wooden sticks in sienna and mustard yellow. The importance of representing both the coldness and the warmth of the tones of the fire is crucial to capturing the sensation of being consumed. What interests me here is the abstraction of a personal feeling of exhaustion. The sense of exhaustion is transformed, in my opinion, into a sense of intense meaning.

The use of color is fundamental in these works, with strokes and tonalities that form the main motif of each piece. "Resilience" arises from a moment of coping with conflict. Culminating in an intense landscape of red sky and a fading horizon, it is a discharge of the process of coping and overcoming. "Condolences" expresses a wish for the mourner, while "Silly" represents bliss in the absurd. Energetic spiral brushstrokes convey a juggling movement, expressing color as a mood and punctuating each idea as a sensation. Strokes of viridian green and yellow create a moving landscape in "Divine Help". The stylized faces and winged figures are both human and angelic, and evoke a moment when I felt supported.

I suspect that the way we project meaning in works of literature and art has much in common with the way we understand events, stories and relationships in our everyday lives (Chater, 2018). We continually try to make sense of what is happening to us, we step back and try to make sense of how the different pieces of our lives fit together, or not; and we do the same with other people's lives, our relationships, the groups we are part of, the projects we are involved in, etc. (Chater, 2018) In each of these moments, the thinking cycle has only one task: to notice sensory information (including, crucially, linguistic) and to organize and interpret it.

I think of color as the variable that homogenizes the universe. I interpret nature as using color as a kind of structure. In a broad sense, I understand it as a mapping: a graphic representation of the parts of a whole. I associate everything, every experience with color. For me, it is simply the construction of meaning in my everyday life, as well as in painting. In my opinion, the reading of a pictorial image is the product of mental improvisation, the result of associations, subject to the mind of the interpreter, but ultimately consensual from the collective imaginary, culture, historical context and conditioned by individual personal experience. In my painting, I give priority to the resolution of conceptual issues through the treatment of formal questions. It is a way of working that I identify with and feel as my own.

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