THE SEA OF CHINA

ALFONSO ALBACETE

In the South China Sea, linking the Gulf of Bengal and the Java Sea, between the Peninsula of Malaysia and the island of Sumatra, there is a long narrow marine refuge and seat of a large floating population, so numerous that it could be confused ( when contemplating it from the sky) with the main avenue of any bustling city.

 

Years ago I could see him for a few minutes through a scratched window of a plane flying between two lights, around a long stay in Indonesia. On one side closed and at night, the thousands of boats or houses or floating things reflected their artificial lights in the darkness of a sea confused with the sky (without mediating the horizon) of the other, the weakened light of twilight spread over the water with difficulty hitting ships, garbage and small islets. Towards the center, the same sea, here transparent, let see its bottom, of mysterious and complex aspect.

 

This fleeting image was so etched in my memory that it not only removed any other category more typical of those places (such as coconut palms, reefs, offerings, cut heads or exotic dances) but already back, when I proposed to incorporate to my work subjects or forms extracted from the experiences in those worlds and (why not) to initiate novel dialogues with those Eastern subjects that have influenced so much in the western art and of which in spite of having news I always kept far , I saw no other possible option than to make it the main argument of this series of paintings.

 

In the first, a night in which the boats, like fireflies confused their reflections on the black and opaque surface, I had the feeling of forgetting something, that something that appeared on its own when making some drawings on transparent paper and repainting on others paintings, it was the background, a background of the sea, a natural landscape similar to others that I had previously painted, although this time with another perspective and without visible human constructions but sprinkled with a whole set of remains, disasters, casual oblivion or other objects voluntarily shipwrecked. Above them could float ships that told new battles, as apparently oblivious to the theorems of classical physics as to what remained sunk beneath their feet, whether they were pieces of an old painting, a poem by Li Po, Gamelan music or the skeleton of Moby Dick and as a union between the two situations, to place a veil that controls the light, that acts as a clock and a calendar, revealing or hiding the depth according to the chosen opacity or color. Handling the three layers, as independent and overlapping situations I managed to elaborate these pictures in the form of musical scores, interpretable at the will of the spectators. As for the title "The Sea of ​​China", I am aware that applied to what I could contemplate, it is inaccurate, (if a geographical Atlas is consulted) however I want to remember that I chose it before starting to paint as it probably since I read very young adventure novels, the mythical name appeared in my head when I imagined territories so distant or unexplored, like these paintings, that hide so much, as you can see, where a transparent layer of color can be the weapon to define a space that resists the methods of perspective for not having lines or horizons, and have a point of view from the total verticality as in a cinematic picado, taken from a springboard before (with mental pirouette) jump and fall to submerge , joyful, in those and sometimes incomprehensible oriental tides, with the hope of finding rare treasures, but with the uneasiness of the one who swims in strange waves having been raised and accustomed to diving. ar, in the familiar waters of the Mediterranean.

 

Post scriptum

 

I have not flown over the eastern seas, so I have not been able to verify what relationship exists between the paintings painted and the landscape that intervened as a fleeting model of its creation.

 

My last transmarian flights (and therefore the only vertical views of an aquatic landscape) have flowed over closer waters, such as the Aegean, the Marmara or the Mediterranean; in the case of the latter (the most frequented) and in the time allowed by the round-trip of the plane and air bridge in the vicinity of Barcelona, ​​initiating the landing, on occasion, I have discovered, myself looking for in the boats perched on the surface of the water that down below passed vertiginously under my feet (against the clock and at a glance), the solution to certain problems between brightness, reflections and shadows caused by boats of fiction on a canvas.

 

I think that these nine visions will have introduced in their way variations in the last pictures, these that are exhibited here and now, perhaps not so much in the floating things that could be anywhere, as in the light, now more domestic, but above all, down below, in the background where animated beings appear and the so-called disappeared swarm along with the remains of ancient battles neither lost nor won nor forgotten forever.

 

Alfonso Albacete