Taken as a whole, Beatriz de la Rúa’s artistic production reveals a formal vocation and an imaginary universe that has been slowly yet consistently consolidated. Her technical procedures, materials, themes and approaches display an unusual constancy; they indicate interests that are kept and enriched over time; they reveal emotions and sensitivities that find in the plastic language the ideal means to forge a visual and affective bond with the beholder.
From her earliest to her latest paintings there are inquires, drives and obsessions that unceasingly feed back into themselves. Some images repeat themselves; others disappear and then spring back; others make up a sort of immanent poetic sublayer that acquires different intensities at different times. It could be said that the entirety of her oeuvre unfolds in an orchestral register of changing sounds, in which, from time to time, some rhythms and instruments assume a momentary prominence. Thus, the Cavernas oceánicas [Oceanic Caves] series (1987) finds ritornellos in Camino a la caverna [Way to the Cave] (2006), Caverna submarina [Submarine Cave] (2012), and finally, in the Cavernas [Caves] series (2015). The inks of the Lugares escondidos [Hidden Places] series (2006) reverberates in the later inks of the same series (2015). Nature and spirit are constant hues punctuated by some leitmotifs such as stains, trees and crowds.
Something similar happens at the technical level. Although the bulk of Beatriz de la Rúa’s work is framed within the broad pictorial field, she uses a number of procedures, and their variation is permanent. Inks, acrylics, collages, frottages, pencils, gouaches and photo-etchings are some of those procedures that, like the themes, gain strength, vanishing and coming back at different times, bringing life to a production of visual and plastic richness that could hardly have been achieved otherwise.
The importance of a particular format is worth mentioning: the artist’s book, through which de la Rúa experiments with words, the sequencing, the reading time and other specific properties of this unique means of expression. A means that is based on its own logics and that sets very different challenges from those akin to pictorial spatiality, demanding planning and a sense of design that would seem to go against the flow of spontaneity and indeterminacy that characterizes the rest of the works. However, there is no contradiction here, but rather a counterpoint. Freedom and control are manifested in Beatriz de la Rúa’s works as they are in life: to remind us of the possibilities and limits of our earthly existence.

Approach to the “Method”
One of the Beatriz de la Rúa’s favourite work procedures is automatism, a method to generate artistic works that was explored by the surrealists in particular and later on by the North American informalists and abstract expressionists. It consists in staining, improvising lines or filling a surface with brushstrokes without a prior plan, without sketches or formal prescriptions, giving free rein to intuition, inner feeling and spontaneity. The surrealists then looked for fortuitous figures; the informalists and abstract expressionists enhanced surface effects and visual configurations that embodied a certain sense of chaos or chance.
Taking advantage of the historical perspective that separates her from those productions, the Argentine artist sips a little in both solutions and brings forward her own approach. She is seduced by the evocative power of the shapes, planes and contours that arise from this operation, and she shapes it into a channel for meaning and emotion, yet without betraying the quota of freedom that enables the observer to find their own suggestions and interpretations. We know that absolute creative freedom does not exist, that any resources to free will are framed within the beliefs, knowledge and perceptions that have been instilled in us as human beings of our time. But the absence of absolute freedom does not exist either when diving into the depths of indeterminacy. And when it is summoned, it is up to art to modulate it, to explore it, to channel it. Beatriz’s works try this path by retrieving that hesitating approach to freedom for the sake of aesthetic experience.
In a study of Jackson Pollock’s works, American theorist Rosalind Krauss points out the visual and conceptual transformations that derive from two different moments in the artist’s work. As we know, Pollock used to make his paintings by placing the canvases on the floor and leaning his body towards them; afterwards, he would present them basted and hanging on a wall. According to Krauss, in the first stage, when the canvas is located horizontally and the body is closer to it, the artist is involved in a moving and sensory way, he activates the muscles and joints, he gets stained, he is soaked with the emanations of the materials, their smells, their chromatic influences, and he lacks a sense of totality; his involvement is primarily emotional. Later, when the canvas is basted and positioned vertically, the eye acquires prominence; that intimate contact with the materials is lost and the shapes, the chromatic fields, the composition begin to gain strength. It is the moment of reasoning, of the analytical look and of the triumph of the totality over the partial vision.
Many of Beatriz de la Rúa’s works have undergone these two moments. The artist often works on a table. From the limited perspective that she gets by being so close to the surface on which she is acting, it is very easy to get lost in the strokes, the material planes, the color fields, the stains. It is the time to widen the rising emotions, to be carried away by the sloppy movements of the hand, to welcome accidents, to grope, to trust in the powers of the unpredictable that always pays back with a share of wonder and the odd discovery. This does not mean giving up on creation in exchange for sheer improvisation; rather, this is a method. If one does not know how to implement it, it will not yield any convincing results. It takes a specific spiritual and emotional state to carry it out; this is a starting point that de la Rúa knows very well and that is perceived in each of her works at once.
In a second stage, the eye and the mind organize the dictates of the spirit. Shapes are revealed, figures appear where hitherto only lines or stains existed, patterns and rhythms are spotted, the imagination gives names to the findings or proposes new paths to explore. The first stage is complemented by another one in which the will of form and meaning begins to act. Sometimes the artist’s hand completes, retouches, adds elements that she considers necessary, it turns some images into others, composes, balances. The automation is a starting point, but it is not always the point of arrival. Even if the result of spontaneity is formally interesting, in the labelling there is a key intervention that transfigures the creative process in the act of foundation that brings life to an artistic work in its full right.
Of course, not all of Beatriz de la Rúa’s works emerge in the same way. Some of them disclose previous sketches or specific intentions to reach a particular result. The figurative drive is evident in certain inks and graphic pieces where the line is the protagonist. In Raíces profundas [Deep Roots] (1999) there appears the motif of the tied-up tree and the roots that conquer their place on earth, which will later on emerge several times. The vegetation bursts open in the triptych Árbol, intermediario verde [Tree, Green Intermediary] (2008), in which a profusion of trunks, branches and leaves give life to endless paradise-like forests. The ADN [DNA] installation (2011) is made up of small pieces of paper covered with graphic patterns and arranged in accurate rhythmic positions. The artist’s books, with their editorial designs, regular pages, synchronized images and lines of text require, of course, a different planning from the challenge of the blank canvas. All these facets coexist in a dynamic balance in Beatriz de la Rúa’s production. This might be her most elaborated method: having achieved a harmonious balance between emotion and reason, sensitivity and concept, hand and mind.

Adventures of the Stain
“The stain is a being with blurred contours that spills and leaves halos, filaments and aureoles to evoke dusty and aquatic worlds, full of shadows and stories.” With these words, which preface the catalog of the Piedra libro [Stone Book] exhibition (2006), artist Horacio Zabala highlights the various plastic and conceptual possibilities of a key element that has accompanied Beatriz de la Rúa’s artistic production since the beginning.
The stain is the undisputed protagonist in works made with inks, but it can also be found in acrylics and oils, and even, camouflaged, in collages and frottages. Nevertheless, it does not always appear in
the same way. In early works, such as the caves series (1987), it is presented mainly as a chromatic surface, generating territories and multicolored atmospheres with its own vibration. In Mundos oníricos [Oneiric Worlds] series (1987), the preponderance of the line relegates the stain to the backgrounds, which, their being made of paper, are soaked with liquid spills, translating them into planes of different color intensities, somewhat low, but always omnipresent. Those intensities can be narrative and even dramatic; they may evoke watery expanses, landscapes, or perhaps sinister or mysterious climates.
Alga, primer elemento [Alga, First Element] (2002) is an interesting work in which the stain dominates the composition, struggling between the building-up of a landscape and sheer abstraction. The reduction to two colors—yellow and black—encourages a visual confrontation that praises rhythms and optical stirrings. The latter is enhanced in Hilos de agua [Threads of Water] series (2002), which seems to convey the dynamics of watery masses pushed by currents. This water exaltation as an endless flow summons a signifier that will be the key to all of Beatriz’s later work: the perpetual mobility of life.
In pieces like Agua ardiente [Burning Water] (2005), the ink acts like watercolor, establishing planes and chromatic zones that build spatiality. Here the stain is proposed as an accomplice of the representation; it helps to highlight and identify shapes from a visually complex plot. The same happens in a set of works that focus on human crowds, such as Desatados [Untied] (2004) or Espectadores desconcertados [Bewildered Beholders] (2005). These works consist of a tangle of frontal faces that carefully gaze at the observer. The faces acquire a higher or lower identity due to the intervention of lines that sketch hair, noses and eyes, but above all, thanks to a chromatic work based on stains that stress and hierarchize human features, pulling them out of a sort of graphic jungle where they seem to be trapped.
The relationships between stain and line are the subject of laborious research. There are inks in which the differences between the former and the latter are subtle, as in Detrás de la pasión [Behind the Passion] (2003), Refugio [Refuge] (2005) or the series Sin título [Untitled] (2015), made with quick and watery brushstrokes that gather glazes, absorption and accidents, to the point of giving up any attempt to separate the two procedures. In other works there is a clear will to exploit the interactions between them to the fullest.
In Reserva de vida [Life Reservoir] (2006), for example, an imposing pink and gray patch is the setting for an uncertain landscape that only exists within it; outside lies the emptiness of the blank sheet. In Lugares escondidos series (2006), the ink spreads by erecting shapes that could be mountains or cliffs; some motley lines evolve within, suggesting a kind of construction, perhaps human or perhaps natural. In the works of the same series of 2015 these linear additions no longer exist: the ink extensions produce shapes of architectural vocation that consolidate as such thanks to the hint in their title. In some of the above-mentioned Sin título (2015) pieces, halos of spilled ink create a gloomy atmosphere for a swirl of lines materialized in greasy pastel.
But the stain does not always need company. With a good dose of mastery, Beatriz de la Rúa successfully causes some of them to found a representation or connote specific images, senses or emotions. This is the case of Mujer lobo [Wolf Woman] (2006), Sintetizando [Synthesizing] (2006), Verano [Summer] (2013), Ligereza sutil [Subtle Lightness] (2015), Tesoro marino [Marine Treasure] (2015) and most of the inks of the artist’s book Vibrar en lo sutil [Vibrating in What Is Subtle] (2019), among so many other works. Here, the proposal aims at getting lost in the unstoppable spills, in the iridescent aureoles, in the reactions of the support to the diluted material, in the unfathomable shapes, in the designs of chance and in the discoveries quickly assumed to be compositional values. They are works that result from experimentation, from trial and error, from constant testing, adopted as the axes of an aesthetic proposal that relativizes the importance of the learned shapes and ventures into the search of other horizons.
Along this experimental line, we could also place a set of collages in which the stain gains a material dimension. This would be the case, specifically, of works such as Agujero cósmico IV [Cosmic Hole IV] (2006) and Bolsas de piedras [Bags of Stones] series (2006), in which a wrinkled surface occupies the center of the composition like a spotlight which excites the plane that contains it. This procedure, which is reminiscent of Jorge de la Vega’s period of monsters and anamorphoses, or of informalist practices like those of Jean Dubuffet, stands out here due to its extreme synthesis and simplicity. We do not find in these works either the plastic problems of the Argentine artist or the tragic gesture of the French, but rather a venture into the sensitivity of some folds torn from the pictorial surface, which seek to activate that synaesthesia through which the sense of touch charges towards our eyes through the roughness of an exposed texture.
Beatriz de la Rúa’s most recent productions take the treatment of stains to unusual limits. It could be said that in them the artist “paints” with stains, complying with all the requirements of representation and composition. In Rocas en el agua [Rocks in the Water] (2012), for example, she achieves amazing vibration and depth effects. Her work with washed-out inks and glazes adds greatly to these effects, although they also appear in works made with acrylic, such as Virtudes del alma [Virtues of the Soul] (2018) or Tesoro marino (2015). Clearly, the accumulated practice over the years allows her to safely approach complex combinations of figuration and abstraction that play with both margins. We see this in Caverna submarina (2012), Ventana al glaciar [Window to the Glacier] (2013) or Jardín tropical [Tropical Garden] (2015), just to mention but some of her works.
In recent years there has also been a transformation of the palette that provides the works with an exalted character. It is a much brighter chromaticity, even more contemporary, insofar as it recalls the saturated and vibrant shades that we find in digital images.
If Mundos oníricos series (1987) was modulated on variations of ochre shades, her recent works focus on primary and secondary colors with a high degree of saturation. Cavernas series (2015) is perhaps the greatest exponent of this trend, although it can be seen in all the current productions.

Evoke and Narrate
The procedures, techniques, images and approaches that characterize Beatriz de la Rúa’s creations are not, of course, random. They respond to her expressive needs, they are the result of an inquiry driven by accurate aesthetic aims that have been adjusted and refined over the years. This inquiry is not limited exclusively to doing, but also to saying. As in the works of all artists, there is in Beatriz’s a communicative drive, the quest for a sensitive encounter with the beholder, the possibility of a dialogue, the enactment of emotions and affections that require an empathic echo in the observer.
Beatriz de la Rúa’s “saying” goes largely through a spiritual and philosophical perspective of life. Oriental quotes, references to the existence, the emptiness, the soul, the eternity are frequent in her artist’s books. The titles of her works are other sources of clues that lead towards this sense. The recurring images of nature do not arise from a specific interest in the landscape, but rather they point to what is vital in it, of permanent renewal, of transcendence. To capture these ideas, traditional representation is not always suitable. One must also be able to suggest, reveal, evoke.
For critic Julio Sánchez, “In Beatriz de la Rúa’s works, two complementary visions blend: the eastern one, with the imprint of the gesture understood as the product of a subtle force that pier-ces the artist as a channel, and the western one, with a tendency to generate shapes and narration.” This dual approach has undergone different moments and inflections over the years, but it could be said that it is a sort of underlying constant. The gesture, the expression, the intuition, the plastic energy coexist with an overflowing natural imaginary, with suggestive atmospheres, with expansive poetic universes laden with details and insights that foster pleasure, vitality and desire.
These visions and feelings give rise to forceful narratives that are but visual translations of the artist’s ideas and wishes. Her earliest works are rather earthly. They are populated by trees, animals and figures of human reminiscences, although they are hardly ever portrayed as such. Around 2000, water introduced more fluid and dynamic spaces. As a counterpoint to the ever-renewed dimension of the watery currents, the appearance of the stone drew the attention towards a materiality that goes beyond the ages of the world, cherishing encapsulated energies. In 2011, ADN series emerged as a question about the being, about the weaves that make up the universe, about the minimal, molecular units that could challenge what we are.
The recent works return to the natural imaginary, but from a renewed point of view. The exalted chromaticism, the warm palettes, the expansive space that acts as a stage for floating shapes show a different state of spiritual elevation. There is a constant appeal to the cosmic, both in the images and in the titles: Planetas en explosión [Planets in Explosion] (2014), Jardín cósmico [Cosmic Garden] (2015), Soles originarios [Original Suns] (2013). The works also allude to magical dreams, hidden desires, traveling spirits, maps of consciousness, virtues of the soul. All of this shows that, beyond plastic experimentation, there is a worldview that seeks to capture and reveal itself in each artistic creature.
A case in point of this narrative configuration can be found in the numerous artist’s books that Beatriz de la Rúa produces alongside her paintings. The structural logic of these editions, even when they do not follow the traditional book format, introduces reading parameters that do not conform to those of plastic composition. Here is a sequence of elements that unfold in different times and spaces, instances of beginning and end, interactions with written texts, material textures that can be touched, the recommendation for the reader to activate the variations of the object—even by just turning the pages—and a proximity and intimacy whose experience goes far beyond that of merely gazing at a visual work from a distance.
Naturally, the artist’s books do not stray from the interests, imaginaries and obsessions that bring life to the rest of their works. They only convey them in unique ways. Recorrido de vacíos acumulados [A Journey of Accumulated Voids] (2004) is a notebook with stained covers, inhabited by drawings of animals and plants, with some cut-out leaves and handwritten texts by María Shaw. “By closing our superficial eyes today to the light of day,” reads one of its pages painted in blue, “we say yes to eternity. We start leaving all our past behind and there is no more past but oblivion.”
The year 2006 is a prolific season for this type of accomplishments. Moleskine (2006) makes use of the format of the renowned Italian diaries to cover an extensive fold-out piece of paper filled with a succession of ink strokes. Hilo de línea [Thread of Line] (2007) adopts the configuration of a cardboard box containing inks on pieces of paper; after the last one, the curious phrase “Fire is not wrapped with paper” appears. However, Piedra caja [Box Stone] (2006) is undoubtedly the most complex of this type of work. It is an acrylic box with compartments that contain real and artificial stones, photographs and a couple of books thoroughly worked with lines and stains; a multidimensional version of some of the usual topics of those years.
Esta agua es fuego [This Water Is Fire] (2017) consists of a cardboard box with five booklets intervened with different graphic patterns. Its starting point is poem 12 of Tao Te Ching, which in its enigmatic character, its reference to the senses and its reflection on the oscillations between the inner and outer world, perfectly embodies many of the visual and intellectual meditations that enthral the artist.

Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.

The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart remains as open as the sky.

Lao Tzu

Vibrar en lo sutil (2019) is Beatriz de la Rúa’s latest artist’s book. It consists of a neutral cardboard box, which treasures stains made in intense shades on translucent paper, which are transferred to a heavier piece of paper placed beneath them. The spectral doubling effect is puzzling, but not as much, perhaps, as Christa Wolf’s accompanying words: “The last thing will be an image, not a word.Words die before images.”