MARIA DOLORES RUBIÓ
MALOLES. FROM PLEIN-AIR PAINTING TO PICTORIAL LYRICISM
Arnau Puig, philosopher and art critic
One fine day, sensibilities give rise to realities. En plein air came about when Corot realised, while painting the bridge at Narni, that what interested him was not the bridge but what his eyes were unearthing colour-wise from the view he was beholding. What had entered the picture was impressionism: what the senses garner, what draws the eye is what interests one’s sensibility; one’s own particular sensibility, of course, which is personal and inalienable.
Then came a host of different attitudes towards this subjective stance, for 19th century art was still interested in the epic feats of war and economics which the “objective” artist had preserved over the mythomania of the previous two centuries. But for the “modern” artist, the presence of the most absolute personalism had become everything. Romanticism is the path that leads to subjectivities and these manifest themselves according to the driving force that we all become when faced with what we believe we find ourselves.
The subjective-objective, personal versions of this new “reality” were to go by the names, to give just an idea, of Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Mir and Sorolla. And it is here that Maloles (Maria Dolors Rubio) enters the scene.
First was the temperament; then, undoubtedly, the circumstance. Maloles lives in a place where the light plays games of dispersion and construction. In her environs we find the wet-luminist Olot School, the “luminist purists” of Sitges and, of course, the aforementioned Mir and the colossal Gimeno. The first thing you need in order to create something is to know what you are doing, how to do it and what your sensibility aims to find or establish. The classical construction evident in her work came from the Llotja School; as for sensibility towards colour, her teacher Sanvicens grounded her in harmonies, and for the strokes, dimensions and spiritual lines, there she had Teresa Llácer, ever keen to redress dissonance. The coordinates for painting had been constituted, the drive for reification came from Maria Dolors Rubió, Maloles.
From here on, the works themselves have determined the propriety and sincerity of everything that she, with her colours, has managed to produce or find that she has created, though without betraying what motivates or causes each of us to belong to our circumstances.
Let us wander visually and mentally through the artist’s work. We are going to find both the obvious and the surprisingly subjective. More than anything else, constructive elegance: everything in each work commences, unfolds and is retained at the point where the decorum of the classics demanded that the environment be presented.
For at this solely apparent point of equilibrium, it is “desire” that has guided the artist’s gestual action. Maloles sees and constructs according to a thirst both indefinite and restrained which is born and flows from within her. The compositional structure, on account of the very principles that form it, retains the overwhelming thrust of eager gestures which pour forth from the inviting sensuality of what pleases and delights.
She constructs through colours -in point of fact, all those in the range verging on the coldness of warmth: blues, greens, whites, that jet black which slides towards purple and grey- which, together with dispersion, hold steady the structure of the initial sensation that existed in the creative thrust.
Obviously, her work harbours relations and these mirrors into the past can be labelled with the classical-modern names of Sorolla (for the gay and fleeting) and Matisse (for the startling jolt of the undying impression): but it also contains, albeit at a greater distance, that strange enchantment with reality, exactly as sunlight presents it, of the “Sitges School”, with Mas and Fontdevila. Contemplating Maloles’ work also evokes that indefinite plane in Monet’s “water lilies”: colours and more colours which draw you in without your ever knowing why. Though in that list of underpinning kinships that one decides to take as cornerstones in life and then cast away, we can also find the delicious Marquet, far removed, to set things straight, from the watered-down Dufy.
But with Maloles’ work, as already suggested, plein air is never the unleashed or ragged, but her way of building and constituting interior landscapes. And this means, once again, that despite the apparent chaos, compositional structure is always firmly present.
Regardless of whether it is a seascape or a landscape you are facing, the near and the far are always there. This causes our sensibility to feel that while people are not portrayed in the artist’s work, there is always a penetrability, a homeliness in the midst of the maelstrom of colour. There are no figures, but the possibility of inhabiting those spaces always exists.
There is something that I would still like to stress: we have mentioned the total sensuality that the colours Maloles uses convey. But these colours do not imply spurious spiritualities (in Matisse, the colour so often goes too far and enters that dimension which leads to the banal). And yet that chromatic spirituality verging on religious disquietude, as found in that other fauve Rouault, plays no part in Maloles’ work either. And that is because, as the great Italian artists used to say, bellezza non c’è scherzosa; beauty is a very serious matter which admits no cosmetics or grooming; it is either achieved or it is not.
All the antecedents and concomitants mentioned when talking about Maloles -apart from her teachers, it goes without saying- are just the circumstance, the curiosity that culture entails and the affinities that everyone feels and experiences with respect to those around them. That is all there is if we are to be honest with ourselves and in Maloles, the colours, her colours, breathe and spout sincerity.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the artist understands that ultimately all these emanations of her life, this explosion of sincerity, are actually whispers, that ebb and flow that the wind brings and takes with it, and of which, after the zephyr or the squall, nothing would appear to remain. When faced with Maloles’ work, such a sensorial appreciation would be a mistake. There remain some magnificent impressions waiting to be rediscovered on seeing the works anew. I do not think these works will tire the eyes of those who see them; besides the freshness they always breathe, there exists within them the possibility -and I will say it again- of being inhabited. Or maybe I ought rather to say that, in the objective reality of everyday life, there should be a reality which is an imitation of the artist’s works.
Barcelona 20 February 2018
Translation by Eliot Jones