Long before becoming a popular phenomenon for her illustrations, Paula Bonet painted and read a lot of literature. Now he has captured these two drives in a unique creative project with two aspects: the literary and the pictorial. On the one hand, he just published the novel Eel (in the Anagrama publishing house, in Spanish; Univers, in Catalan) and, on the other, this Tuesday he presented 158 works that make up the exhibition of the same title with the apostrophe of This is a picture, not an opinion.
The project revolves around the pain over the death of a loved one, pregnancy, sexual abuse, patriarchy and the violence that men exert on women. Bonet defined it as “a love letter to all women [especialmente a sus abuelas y tías] and a spear in favor of those who come behind ”. “Report the attacks we suffer in a hot and throbbing story that slips away when you want to tie it up,” explained the author of What to do when THE END appears on the screen. The choice for the title of the eel, the elusive animal that mutates throughout its life, is loaded with symbolism, as it has been throughout history.
“With this project I have felt that much of what I learned, much of the discourse that we have internalized and that is patriarchal has been broken and then I have been in charge of pulverizing it and blowing it so that it disappears”, said the creator of Vila-real, 40 years, surrounded by her paintings.
For more than two years, the artist has captured these “gross” works on canvases of different sizes, in which the viewer can appreciate “aggressions in the line, soft brushstrokes and brush strokes that break with academicism and masculine impositions”, according to the curator, Cristina Chumillas.
Illustrate to write
He wrote, stopped and painted. He painted, stopped, and wrote again. “I illustrate to be able to paint and write; I illustrate to eat and paint and write to live, ”he said. Regarding his work that has given him the most renown, he points out that he has always tried to embark on illustrating projects of admired writers, such as books The year of magical thinking, by Joan Didion, o For oblivion, on the work of Roberto Bolaño, in collaboration with the author Aitor Saraiba. O La but, the particular honor of the illustrator to authors like Clarice Lispector or Virginia Woolf.
The exhibition of Eel, which can be visited until May 16, is divided into three parts: The inheritance, The meat and The painting. Each one of them tells a story and a specific moment of the author and shows a transition that goes from an art still connected with the figurative to another white and luminous one that practically aspires to disappear.
The suggestions to sex and the woman’s body, to the fetus, to the imposition of the male sex evolve towards a more dreamlike formulation, an almost radical abstraction, almost Malevich’s white on white, passing through an abstract expressionism, which he made with brushstrokes gestural, even blind, in the part referring to the meat. The female body appears “stripped of the male gaze, since they are the entrails of a woman, not a beautiful package that wants to be liked,” added the painter.
Bonet recognizes that this creative project has changed her and has allowed her to talk about issues surrounding gender inequality from “temperance” and not from anger. In addition, he has done so understanding “that the work is better when it is not the author who matters.” “At the moment in which I have lost respect, a series of images have emerged that I would not have allowed myself to paint if I had been aware. I recover the idea of the process and face the artistic process without any kind of concession ”.
Were you relieved after completing such an intense and personal project? “I was relieved the moment I knew what I wanted to talk about. Sometimes it is very difficult to identify situations of mistreatment or abuse or why the experience of women is not part of the canon ”, she indicates.
“Bonet transforms her thinking into the work of a plastic talent made from personal experiences and a series of reflections on the meaning of being a woman,” said Chumillas. “From that moment on, Bonet focused his work on a tool that he knows very well, painting. And that is what we find in this exhibition: the natural evolutionary development of the painter Paula Bonet ”, he added.
The exhibition includes a careful catalog with reflections and literary creations purposely written by the authors Patricia Escalona, Cristina Morales, Laura Freixas, Kate Bolick and Nell Leyson.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.