The Laws of Expression


What is at stake at the beginning of the 21st century, since the crisis of the great stories about modernity were built seems to have solidified or have crystallized in an (im)balance between new forms of homogenization and new reinterpretations of natural law, is the ability of civilization to absorb and utilize what which always -  and especially since the triumph of mechanism (and mechanics in general) - has been despised and rejected because it is, by definition, impossible to manage, to take on and to systematize. If the art of the early twentieth century highlighted fascinating attempts of productive use of the irrational and random -the surrealism and automatism of the 30s, of course, added to the informalism of the fifties, abstract expressionism of the sixties, the happening of the seventies and current derivatives of the vanguards... - the image of white noise that Javier Liebana proposes, which is closely related to the essence of his creative process, appears as an adaptation of the assumptions on which rests the lyrical abstraction to new possibilities that science and thought have opened to him,  finding what he has called, aptly, "the perfection of imperfection".


In Liebana's work, white noise, a cosmic residue from the first instant of chaos -and consequently, an eternal interference-, like a  mathematical formula of chance and  an entropy  generation factor- which has, moreover, practical applications because of it's disorienting, hypnotic and narcotic effects- is, somewhat, a systematic subjugation of the matter itself to the Duchamp art coefficient: it links the difference between what the artist envisaged and the end result of a series of unpredictable chemical processes, to that undetectable or negligible randomness that is part of the very laws that govern the matter. It is also a way to certify with Collingwood, that "the expression is an activity for which there cannot be technique" to the extent that what makes something art and not handcraft is precisely that distance between the planned and the executed, that uncertainty that starts when technique gives way to pure expression.


In White Noise, the most mature and surprising exhibition of Javier Liébana -who otherwise always managed to intrigue to both  this writer as the audience who praised his work in the two site specifics that I was lucky enough to propose some years ago-, that random expressiveness depends, first, of the force exerted, on literal sense, over materials. Liebana's work is, in many ways, sculptural -of his works must be said, like of Rojas's works, or Farreras, or Lucio Muñoz, that at least are relieves- and, to the extent that the artist intends to do evident in the final work all the phases of an enormously complex process, its expressiveness depends on relationships, not only between each material, also between molds and countermolds, underlying structures and surfaces, construction and destruction, additions and subtractions, expansion and contraction, liquefaction and solidification .... Each of these elements and phenomena leaves a visible mark on the final surface, determines the size of spots and quartered, the situation of drillings and masses, generates colors, shapes, textures, arguments, stories finally; random, unexpected, mysterious and revealing stories.


The second of the expressive lines of the latest work of Liébana is a systematic study of the - very unpredictables - relations between surface and interior, to which the artist has referred, appealing to the scientific methodology again, as follows: "I discovered the surface science, which describes perfectly what is my work. It says that matter behaves differently on the surface than inside when a phase change occurs. A molecule inside is surrounded by other molecules in all spatial directions that balance the force exerted on it. On the surface no such conditions exist. It's generated a surface tension that causes matter behaves differently, which is what we see. But inside it develops a unknown universe. (...) I'm investigating that. it's one of the things that more interest me. I investigate what happens below the surface, inside and I discover an aspect of the matter that has not been seen so far. It has been used  additively and subtractive but has not studied the intrinsic nature of matter in art, as could study a chemist but with the eyes of a painter ".


Clearly, it is not possible to know what happens inside the paint if it's not doing a testing. In practice, this means all that we perceive in the painting, and especially the mysterious hollowness that punctuate it, the perforations and carvings, or scratched, scratches and scrapes not only isn't arbitrary -never nothing is arbitrary if it expresses something - neither depends entirely on decisions related to the artist's sensibility, it is a consequence of the destruction of the painting itself -of it painted , of the painted image itself- or, more precisely, of its deconstruction and all those damages - hurts, incisions, extractions, oxidations, corrosions ... - it suffers during analysis.


Both excavation and chemical analysis are attributes of mining - and there are several paintings in this exhibition with an unmistakably mineral texture -, but also from archeology. Javier Liébana - and both his library, consisting of travel books and classics, like his periodic trips to Greece attest - has noted that, beyond contemporary influences -Tàpies, Vento, Chillida ... and also the french  informalist  and the abstract american expressionists -, his art born of the encounter with the vestiges of Greek art, that is to say, from the image extraordinarily rich in suggestions from ruin. If the expressiveness of these paintings and his argument depend, respectively, of the avatars of their construction and accidents  suffered during their exploration, the sign, which is the genesis of all the works in this exhibition and it's present even in the earliest paintings of the artist, represents, at the same time, the universal and the lost. The indecipherable words of Javier Liébana are composed of disordered calligraphic elements and recomposed that, like white noise, are subject to certain fractals developments that confer a mysterious unity to the entire surface of the work and, ultimately, allow each of the pieces is perfectly unique and strikingly different from the others (Javier Liebana, on the other hand, has been very critical with the shunts current of authorship concept). That's why "every sign only makes sense when it's inscribed in a concrete work" in a particular landscape, in a context that does not exist by itself but is always consequence, precisely, of the appearance of a sign and his development, first over the plane and after in space.


The story of these paintings is, then, that which stands between the clarity of an original message and the darkness in which man and culture move. And if in fact, in Javier Liébana's paintings, the sign, the question, the origin and destination, are white noise, it is that veil that time weaves over the arcane sign, made of natural processes and human activities, which allows us to decipher it in the only way possible: by watching, listening, leaving bewitched by his enigmatic appearance, his inexplicable avatars and, evidently, by the own beauty of intention.


Javier Rubio Nomblot