Carla Rey

Letters that are not


How many letters dwell in an ink stroke?

Water that flows laden with black letters, which are unreadable yet capable of feeling the image poetics; a unique calligraphy of an artist who writes in her own language.

The subtle imprint pours an endless array of ideas lived in an instant.
Beatriz is a solo of inks that stand out like an orchestra, an exquisite banquet, perfume that arouses all the senses, skin paper that absorbs the motion of the brush-stroke.

The stare awakens a piercing blackness which becomes graphology or watermark depending on the note of the intuitive score.
A brush at times, and at others an imperceptible quill unleash on paper the many emotions stemming from the deepest end that overflow to tell the tale of a unique story.

The words are there, yet they are not written with letters.
Each work unfolds an idea deeply linked with the being.

Connected with nature’s vital impulse, Beatriz becomes one with it and vibrates high up when she bonds with the materials that bring sap-like life to her drawings and paintings.

Images that are metaphors of the words it delves into.

When you get into one of these works, you feel you can unveil life’s secrets.

Everything is there… you simply have to discover it.
There are no letters; there are gestures and imprints like traces of a timeless space without any rules.

Full freedom, its own language, words suggested by the onlooker, owner of the gaze that will add its lyrics and music to this symphony of art and life.

Rodrigo Alonso

Without words


The works that make up the exhibition Letters that are not feature a succinct overview of Beatriz de la Rúa’s vast and productive career. By going through them, we can delve into this artist’s unique visual universe, characterized by compositions which are halfway through figuration and abstraction, where the expressivity, space, stroke and stain reveal themselves as unquestioned protagonists.

In most of her works, de la Rúa approaches the plastic materials without any forethought or previous sketches. In line with the tradition of the psychic automatism performed by the surrealists, she projects lines and stains on a translucent surface, trusting that the meaningful shapes will be eventually uncovered so as to convey the sought-for emotion. Thus, the pieces spring up within an intimate dialog with chance, accidents, the unknown, and the unforeseen forces. Out of this task, which the artist performs masterfully, there arise images that are endings at times (for instance, in the series Naturaleza dialogando [In nature while talking], 2021), and that in other cases are the starting point for the building-up of a visual proposal guided by a clear representative call (as is the case of Los caminantes [The walkers], 1997 or Bosque transformado [Altered forest], 2008).

The ink is the most recurrent material, yet not the only one, nor does it always appear in the same way. In some works it is accurately applied, thus giving shape to the figures of a drawing (Todos miran algo nuevo [Everyone looks at something new], 2003) or to the lines in a set of graphic patterns (Serie ADN [DNA series], 2011). In others, it appears on the paper as a stroke, either through the elegance of its fortuitous renderings, or by struggling over the definition of the pictorial space (serie Dinamismo espiritual [Spiritual dynamism series], 2015). In others, the diluted ink is soaked onto the support and thus creates chromatic fields, liquid extensions, glazing or atmospheres of an imposing perceptive prominence (serie Lugares escondidos [Hidden places series], 2006). And in some others, it blends with textured materials while breaking into a three-dimensional state which is, at the same time, both physical and visual (serie Camino a la caverna [Way to the cave series], 2006).

The space on which all these fluent variations unfold is often the clear geography of the sheet of paper. However, the link between plastic material and support, figure and ground, is not repeated, or at least its connotations are not always the same. In some works, the white surface supplied by the paper can be read straightforwardly as a plane or as a background -or, in a more traditional way, as a “neutral field”. Yet in others, that void reaches a spiritual or metaphysical scale. In fact, this emotional component is more and more present in Beatriz de la Rúa’s work, ever growing in the recent global pandemic, during which time the word “spiritual” appeared more and more often in the titles.

Finally, in the productions that were selected for this exhibition, what prevails is the tonal reduction to whites, blacks and shades of grey, even though de la Rúa also explores other uses of colour (Espíritu libre [Free spirit], 2020, majestically accounts for that). Such a decision -not whimsical at all, since the monochrome gradient takes up a great part of this artist’s work- invites us to contemplate them calmly, beyond the emotional fits that colour brings about. Seen this way, it is not hard to perceive in them the testimony of the quest for a style or a formal vocabulary. A vocabulary that shuns words, fully trusting in its visual might, outspoken, sensitive and spiritual.

Carla Rey

The origin is the instant


A magic stroke seized it and printed it onto the paper…

…The walkers
[go through] the altered forest
[reveal] the unmanifested
[transcend] spiritual dynamism
[weave] shapes in space,
[transform] secret souls,
[temper] bold souls
in nature while talking…

The origin in the instant in which the brush and the ink encounter the paper.
A new tale is woven between the artist’s hand and these elements, a dynamic dance which is spotted within the whiteness.
The ink tells us about this life-inspired music and its deepest and most essential features.
Beatriz flows onto the paper; the unmanifested in her emotions becomes ink lines.
Shapes sweep into space, symbols, full lines and thus the rhythm of the bodies leaves their imprint.
The walkers are like brushes that bring joy to the creative act; they rise and go through the altered forest.
When Beatriz, a vibrant and potent woman, blends inspiration with matter, everything is possible; a white surface becomes a new world.
The artist believes and thus creates a new reality.
Beatriz places her sheets on the table or the floor and creativity is born in a transcendental instant. The idea becomes a track, an imprint, a sign on the support.

The big moment is soon to arise: the ceremony, the sublime instant when the onlooker’s gaze meets the work and it speaks to him or her.
The moment at which the artist, the work and the onlooker merge, the magic circle of art that gathers everyone in an instant.

Today we are going to embark on this journey laden with waving and modulated lines, when the bold souls dance and lead us towards a unique experience.
While engaged in conversation with these works, we feel that we own time.
An instant that is aware of art and life where what is secret is revealed.

Rodrigo Alonso

The survival of images


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.”

Carla Rey

The thread, the stains, the color and the symbol


Like a net, it covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are very wide, nothing slips through.
Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

Throughout her artistic work, Beatriz de la Rúa places the ink stain as a protagonist. It is the genesis from where everything flows. The magical encounter of the ink with the fabric and paper makes the shapes move forward and they often transmute into artist books and objects. Each stroke symbolizes deep concepts that were researched and written by the artist in thousands of notebooks that she stockpiles on her desk. The work precedes the instant, forebodes that which is imagined, reaching like a beam of light to give meaning to everything. Each expression is a text in unrest; it is an endless and unique source of communication by means of art.

Standing in front of a work by Beatriz, we feel that she has held nothing back; everything is there, from the deepest part of her being, straight to the support that awaits the imprint and beyond, leading the onlooker to conclude the meaning of the work. Only beauty and joy shape what is felt and guide the hand to make the matter reach the fabric or paper. Empty spaces and vital gestures pile up, thus creating unique and individual constellations. Abstractions, ink threads, signs, trails.

The mountains are made to move aside, leaving room to thousands of faces; among them the birds appear, and so do the trees that grow chained to the ground and rise to the sky reaching far beyond the limits that nobody can set to creativity. The stones become books, the papers transmute into gold, the engravings become paintings and the inks, mixtures: Beatriz is an artist and an art alchemist.

The drawing is forceful and the detail, obsessive, living together in harmony fused by colour and tone. It can go from a nightmare to paradise, from what is concealed and unknown to what is sharp and strong, from inner silence to an outright visual display, from start to finish in an instant. We can be sure of something: Beatriz’s vital commitment to her work imposes on it a cyclical rhythm, just as nature does. Gestation precedes creation, and so forth. When Beatriz is silent, inspiration sets in and thus the idea is born in close connection to La Mancha (The Stain).

The poetic intensity spills and becomes a stain; the ritual of the ink-laden paintbrush pierces through all the layers and comes up again, leaping into the void fully aware that the sheet is waiting to welcome it.

And, once again, everything starts all over. Like the seasons of the year, the tides, the moon phases… Beatriz, in line with nature, picks up her brushes again and shows us that art is life that always imposes itself.

Carla Rey

Listening to that which is subtle


« You do not see anyone on this mountain.
Only voices are heard, far away.
The setting light between the branches.
The moss brings it back, green.»
Wang Wei (王维, 699-761 AD)[1]

The voice of silence invades Beatriz de la Rúa’s works. The calm produced by the contemplation of nature releases colours and graphisms from the deepest of one’s being. That which is most intimate in contact with the most extreme. Thus are born the forests that vigorously grow in the paintings, where they subtly represent the deepest. Each of the works is a gaze, a twist, a wink that involves us as beholders, and in a fleeting instant, we feel part of it.

Silence does not have an imposed order and it gives way to whatever may happen. It is the possibility of listening to that which is subtle, which would go unnoticed if we let ourselves be invaded by noise. Beatriz invites us to silence, she shows us that the possibility of everything lies there, even -and perhaps the most importantly: listening to ourselves. Listening with eyes, gazing while listening. The work speaks. Beatriz paints and draws, glues and builds in calm. Everything can be in the void. The initial silence of the blank canvas breaks down with the sudden appearance of textures and ink strokes that spring with creative energy. The onlooker’s moment arrives: a committed artist knows that the works only belong to the eye of the beholder, who will find in them a message that will nourish their own history.

The forests create a climate, a string of landscapes and time. Going through these works is to feel, to be encouraged to look, to escape from the noise, while finding oneself in the exercise of being a beholder / actor. Walking across the landscapes is to go inwards while revealing our layers one by one, acknowledging ourselves in depth. Thus we discover that we are full of colours, sprouts, roots, feeling that a light of life shines over our path. Cheerful and fulfilled by the inward walk, we embrace the calm that invades us today. This is called calm, I enjoy it, I respect it and I do not want to let go… artist and beholder glimpse the truth in calm. Beatriz is a bowl of calm water from which strong brushstrokes sprout with an assured imprint. And thus we find ourselves being one in the work: artist and beholder in subtle silence.

[1] N.B. From Octavio Paz’s translation into Spanish.

Carla Rey

Bosque no dominado


She can usually be seen between the wind and sky.
Building her nest in a wave of fury.
Flying steady and true like a bullet.

She lends her wings to the storm
And when the lions roar in the caves
She hovers over the abyss and continues

She doesn’t seek rock
rope, or the pier,
She makes insecurity her strength
And feeds off the risk of dying.

That’s why I see her as a perfect image
Of someone who lives and sings
In the storm.

Sophia Mello Breyner

I met the artist Beatriz de la Rúa over ten years ago. Since then, our paths have crossed thousands of times as we continue our way along the journey through art and life. The light in her eyes and conspiratorial smile are still intact; and when she arrives, one can sense her presence without seeing her because of her characteristic perfume. She is a powerful woman who travels through life using paintbrushes as extensions of her soul.

I remember her black lines that drew trees, graphisms, silhouettes, and even some faces looking at us. Her works were rivers of ink, words, threads of stone, then the line faded away into the trickles of water in black and white, becoming a stain on the paper.

Beatriz de la Rúa paints openly to life just as the Chinese proverb says:

« Do not restrict life.
One has to work like it does »

Like a flower that shows its full splendour, today, the paintings full of vivacious unmistakable colours, are a mark, sign, and footprint that nothing can erase. Graphic forms appear in the pictorial work. The artist prints like a unique die on the canvas. Then the varnishes are added and thus the colours form constellations all over the canvasses. The series Jardín cósmico (Cosmic Garden) starts with a printed stain and from then the successive layers of paint reveal part of that beginning, which ends in brushstrokes that illuminate this heaven on earth.

Veils, layers, marks, footprints, inks, feathers, brushes and water until those birds and flowers that dwell in blue universes are achieved. The Tao says that the great image has no form. The colour of earth is the base for all the compositions, just as Earth is the great mother who nurtures and shelters us.

This beautiful woman with vivacious eyes shows us that only when one stands firmly on earth can one touch heaven. Like the trees that she drew, like those forests that, today, are herself.
Everything is perfect. The common thread through Beatriz’s life is the same one that runs through her work.

This exhibition was conceived when the gallery director saw a work called Bosque no dominado (Untamed Forest); the best way to illustrate that the nature within her is free and has its own rules.

In this exhibition, the works invite us to explore caves that frame settings in their interior.
Today, the tsunami has passed and Beatriz stands firm, deeply rooted, and her branches of a thousand colours touch heaven.

Monday 29 February 2016

Martha Zuik

Pleasure at work


Beatriz de la Rúa is a noble, complete artist
who is dedicated to her work.
Her large format colourful paintings
bear the marks of her earlier work
with its rich graphic expressions.

Each of them tells a story that develops as the work grows.
The energetically applied colours convey
her broad smile and make the viewer understand
the pleasure she feels when painting.

I think she will be very successful !

Julio Sánchez


Beatriz de la Rúa’s recent works show a fervent vocation for colour. These large canvasses with an extensive palette follow on from the restrained black and white works and those with oriental looking inks that the artist created years ago. Beatriz’s creative method can be compared to doing/thinking: she needs to be working in her studio, and enjoys leaning over the canvas with her brushes and paint pots to generate her thoughts as she completes each work. Thus we can affirm that the artist and her work have a sanguine temperament. In other words, they are vivacious and happy, and she is a receptive person who can transform her emotions into impressions, who fascinates when she tells a story, who is affable and friendly.
These paintings are somewhat similar to a volcano whose lava flows freely. The palette sparkles intensely, unafraid of including cold and warm colours, while hidden and explicit graphic expressions appear along with transparencies and opacities in the canvas’s topography. Scenes linked to nature usually appear throughout this chromatic structure. If we follow Leonardo da Vinci’s suggestion to observe a patch of damp on a wall or the clouds in the sky in order to detect shapes, we find implicit messages to figuration. This is reinforced by Beatriz’s attitude of naming her works with very orientative titles. Remember that Marcel Duchamp said that the title was the most important part of a work of art. The word ‘forest’ appears over and over again, accompanied by different adjectives: confined, not dominated, fiery, hidden, impenetrable and temperate, among others. It is no minor detail that the works refer to this geography of trees. Forests continue to fascinate modern man just as they did medieval man. In those times, forests were sacred places full of mystery and magic, and were the meeting point for gnomes and fairies as well as werewolves, witches and ogres. They were attractive and feared places where covens met and later, with the arrival of Christianity, solitary monks retired to pray. Saints, bandits, birds and bears hid in the dense, leafy forest where strange, unknown sounds where heard, like the subtle chime of God and the devil. That sense of something encrypted and hidden appears in paintings such as Ramas peligrosas (Dangerous branches), Donde el mundo no entra (Where the world doesn’t go) and Santuario natural (Natural sanctuary). Before becoming a ‘natural resource’ that had to be preserved for utilitarian purposes, the tree-commodity was tree-divinity and was the axis mundi that linked heaven and earth. This is precisely one of the cornerstones of these paintings, which without being narrative or explicit refer to the harmony between individuals and the universe. We could continue to cite titles like Soles originarios (Original suns), Red estelar (Stellar network), Rocas en el agua (Rocks in the water), Fuego graficado (Graphic fire) or even Caramelos (Sweets): they all speak of a blessed nature, about a river that flows without stopping and a vibrant, restless landscape. Beatriz embodies the artist mediator who, like a tree, can unite heaven and earth in a task that is as full of obstacles as it is rewards. But more than a task, it is a path that requires work and sacrifices (in the etymological sense of the word, in other words to do something sacred), a path that involves several steps that alchemist brothers once set out in great detail and with dark symbols and can be summarized in three stages: the search for harmony within oneself; with the beings around us; and with the cosmos we are in. As the Latin proverb says, pedes in terra ad sidera visus (with feet on the ground looking at the stars), and this seems to be what Beatriz respects in her painting. There is a certain need to penetrate nature’s enigmas in order to understand the mysteries of the universe. This group of works is full of life like Henri Matisse’s dance; the dynamism of the shapes, happiness of the colour and the thousands of implicit messages for the viewer make up a circle that revolves around the mystery of life.

Julio Sánchez

Identity – Gaps/ Intervals


In the Hebrew biblical tradition, the term ruach means the vital breath, the air breathed by every living thing; the same divine breath that blown life into man at the dizzying moment of creation. The term is similar to prana in Hinduism, to the Greek pneuma and the soul of Christians. This breath flows through living things and is somehow an infinite network – invisible, undetectable – that covers the entire living universe now and since ever. It was not Beatriz de la Rua´s intention to illustrate this concept at all. However, the notion of soul is difficult to avoid in her latest work. For some time, she has refused figurative or pictorial narratives; instead, she chooses a more subtle and metaphorical form of expression; that is to say, detailed graphics and repetition of modules. In each square of paper she draws different structures, which have subtle differences among them – a knotted wire, spirals, columns joined by hooks, stormy seas, the eye of a hurricane, zigzags, columns entangled in rings, eight-spoke wheels (that remind us of the representation of the eightfold path preached by Buddha), a thicket of curls and even broken tiles depicting a work of Gaudi. None of these descriptions are the intended by the artist, regardless I intend to use them to demonstrate their enormous evocative power. I can not help thinking that each design is a form of existence of a living being. How are these graphics displayed? In rows, one next to the other, but with empty intervals in between, as if the soul embodied in a column – I imagine a stable and measured being; or in a whirlpool (shaky and restless); or in any other thing – as if the soul needed an interval of time, without time, of rest and immanence. The minute and concentrated detail and the repetition of these modules make us think that de la Rua´s work depicts a mantra, and as such, it is a leap of consciousness that allows us to transcend the barriers of reason. The work seems to represent the unrepresentable. “It is better to keep silent than to talk about something we can not talk about”, wisely said the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Hence, our artist has chosen a means of expression that is both sound and ambiguous; it is a map of existence that may or simply may not be.

Julio Sánchez


Lines open like the roots of an impossible tree. Some revealed, others hidden; some powerful, others complacent. Lines become undulating and seem to squeeze through the hiding places that they create and shape. Lines are like the water that flows through the rocks of a stream, nothing stops them; they continue to flow over or round an inexistent obstacle. When looking at these works by Beatriz de la Rúa, we can’t fail to recall poem 78 from Tao Te Ching:

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water,
Yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong,
For they can neither control nor destroy it (…)

It is also difficult not to associate her ink works with the classical Chinese Taoist painting. Works by artists from the East sought consonance with the constant mutations of the universe, of people and situations. Not for nothing have they chosen ink, an aqueous means that flows, analogous to the air and water currents that exist per se and are independent from shape. Both in Beatriz’s works and in Chinese art, lines like veins or threads of a skein can be observed. They whirl about like smoke; they are not a mere abstraction but a clear and objective representation of the subtle energy paths (chi or qi) which move through time and space.
Beatriz’s artistic production also nurtures from western tradition, from the visible world of the senses. Unrecognizable figures emerge from those dancing lines – like in water stains on the wall, or the clouds that travel across the sky. Although the repertoire is not strict, an affable preference towards faces can be noticed. Well defined noses that blend into the space between the eyebrows, rolled eyelids that let out a thread which travels across the face and reaches the mouth to become entangled again; girls’ hair mingles with the ambiguous lines of the composition. Or are these lines the creators of that hair? Beatriz’s works achieve a harmonious connection between the world of the senses (figuration, whether human or not) and a subtle dimension.

In another group of ink works, the line continues to be present, but the stain is more dominant. The image is plain, with no ornaments or meanders, in coincidence with Zen austerity, detachment and non-desire. In almost all the series there is a place taken up by emptiness, not understood as nothingness, but as no-shape, no-thing no-being; as a potential universe. In Tao art, emptiness is the essential element, the beginning step to painting freely and being able to coordinate mind and hand. But emptiness is something else, and this is much better described by Lao Tse in poem 16 of the Tao Te Ching:

Empty the self completely;
Embrace perfect peace.
The world will rise and move
Watch it return to rest
All the flourishing things
Will finally return to emptiness and peace (…)

In Beatriz’s work two complementary visions are combined: the oriental one, with the mark of the gesture understood as the product of a subtle force that moves through the artist as a channel, and the occidental one, with a tendency to generate figure and narration. In the production of our artist there is a pendular transition between the representation of an ineffable energy and that of matter, and, above all, a communication channel is established between two inner worlds which give way to a harmonious universe.”

Juan C. Romero


The thread is represented in most forms of life of the known universe since even the Milky Way is built before our eyes as a thread.

And what about the thread that almost always leads us to the chosen place or to the place where we should have never been to?

The thread is also present in the work of art and throughout the story of representations and abstractions. The thread represented symbolic images even for the most ancient peoples and we have now become their heirs and so we are responsible for them.

Beatriz de la Rúa chooses this meandering direction, and from a subtle and complex web of threads, lines and spots she shows us almost every possible recognizable and even non-existing world. These worlds are the result of an artistic hand that leads us to places we would like to visit once: trees, stones, mountains, rivers, and faces and a long list of presences or absences that want to escape the maze.

Approaching Beatriz work is like stepping into Alice’s mirror knowing that we will find all or nothing on the other side. Just let yourself be guided by the artist on her journey to a humble toread.

Horacio Zabala

Materials at the edge of chaos


If we break a stone and the fragments of that stone, the pieces we will obtain will still be stone pieces. The real is suitable for infinite exploration; it is never-ending.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

We approach contemporary artistic productions from different aspects, which are equivalent and interdependent: shape, color, concept, technology, matter. For some contemporary artists, matter is, in fact, the one that foretells shape and translates the idea. They think and feel that matter is not only a rigid substance that supports and structures an image, but also a force that conveys its own meaning. The conception and practice of these artists allows opposite and complementary poles to cross each other and live together in their works: one is visible and weighty materiality (in the strong, archaic sense) and the other is invisible, ethereal immateriality, present in all sublimation processes.
In her recent works, Beatriz de la Rúa has considered the choice of two materials which man has been manipulating since remote times: paper and stone. Given the artist’s sensitivity to their respective qualities, she works with them with equal poetical intensity, but with different means and intentions. When dealing with her artistic production from the materials viewpoint, she enhances the physical, chemical and technical processes, accidents, automatisms and marks that her work gives rise to. She exhibits the results of the vicissitudes she experiences. For instance, rice paper subjected to the action of Indian ink, humidity, evaporation and time. The stain is a being of imprecise contours, which overflows and leaves halos, filaments and aureoles that evoke aquatic, dusty worlds, full of shadows and stories. In the inks and gouaches on paper from her series called Water Threads, silky black stains and diaphanous gray lines make paper reverberate, exhibit its roughness and opacity, its porosity and its strength. Its white surface does not just act as a simple receptacle or flat support for the liquids that go all the way through it, smear it and contaminate it. On the contrary, paper uses the inks and water to show itself in its paper reality. Spectators of her works should alternatively look closely at them and then view them from a distance, with attention, patience and slowness. At close sight, we will find a great number of small perceptions, details, tonalities, textures and movements: the effect is tactile-optical. From a distance, chaos finds an order, the composition appears and global shape makes sense: the effect is now only optical.
Since 1987 Beatriz de la Rúa has been using stone in her works, and since 1996 she has been collecting them specifically in Mexico and Brazil: they form the found stones Series and the found pieces Series. There are blue and green agates, white quartz, amethysts and other hard stones. Her intention is not to classify them in order to create a collection. They are the raw material for new works, which are in full development.
In one of these series, the work is the stone itself, with no alterations made by the artist, except for written and graphic information about its origin and characteristics. It is important to explain that her election is not arbitrary: the piece was seen by her eyes, caressed and weighed by her hands, it was “tried and tested” once and again (there are no equivalences among plants and, likewise, there are no equivalences among stones). The election of a rock crystal of specific shape and dimension, transparency and weight is a sensitive experience and also a creative action in a peculiar and untransferable “here and now”. Stones are not only chosen because of their rough outer layer or their translucent bands, their concentric veins or their porcelain brightness, their optical illusions or geometric reflections, but also because they are part of an esthetic operation that is projected in the art context.

In another series of works, the artist designs and operates on the stone through a craftsman who cuts it into two sections: the result is, for example, a hydrolyte cut in a way that shows its interior. That is, its frozen successive layers, its paralyzed contractions, its crystallized, tormented mud, its obscure central cavity, its sharp fragments, its confusing, chaotic magma. Daylight penetrates the broken stone, forces and uncovers its intimacy but not its mystery.

Nowadays, the artist performs digitalized processes that record and combine photographic images of stones together with images of her drawings on paper. This “alchemy” reveals the superposition of the leaden grays of gouache ink and the hard veins of stone, the refulgence of paper and the density of stone. These in-progress hybrids remind us of the figurative silhouettes of clouds: we evoke larval life, indecisive ruins, alphabet traces, fugitive ghosts, concentrations of indecipherable signs and gauntly constellations that are permeable to light. When looking at these works, we know or imagine that our evocations are, in fact, variations with no logic or purpose, plays of oppositions and contrasts between transparency and opacity. In short, it is the technological optical-chemical-electronic medium the one that illuminates and reconciles two materials of different origin: paper and stone.

It often occurs that in the great cycles of nature, chromatic, tactile, dimensional and formal correspondences arise between the vegetal and mineral kingdoms. With her works, Beatriz de la Rúa states there are no amorphous or passive, neutral or blind kingdoms. She suggests other correspondences between matter and shape, other fluctuations between the imaginary and the real, other links between the visible and the invisible, other symmetries between the lightness of inked paper and the heaviness of polished stone.

Juan Carlos Romero


Drawing is present in all life traces and becomes evident in everything from the movements of insects on the ground to the tail left by a shooting star in the sky.

That is how premonitory drawings show our destiny based on the lines on the palm of our hand. Traces that cross one another in every direction, like the ephemeral marks of sand in the desert. When looking at a drawing by B.S. one has the sensation of being in front of hundreds of those traces that reveal constructions reaching remote places and desperately longing for communication. With a hermetic but, at the same time, intensely poetic message, she proposes the translation of the most complex and mysterious texts. As Japanese sumi e masters say, it all comes down to drawing with maximum simplicity and perfection in only one brush stroke. A monochrome world based on black color.

There is where abstractions, stains, bars, nets, explosions and signs that make up a universe are formed. And this, in the words of Henri Michaux, “is the result of the movement that comes from my own movement”.

It is inevitable to review the history of art to find the esthetic coincidences that Zen artists, the German artist Wols and Henri Michaux himself all reflect in their works, and which they, together with Eduardo Stupia, have come to call “the text in tension”.

Beatriz’s drawings give the impression of being never-ending, they may be looked at and all might looked at as many times as this were possible, and each time a new message would be discovered. This tension leads to enjoyment in the most absolute silence. And in that virtual space, the creative void will bring together the action of the artist and that of the beholder.

Cristina Dompé


“Nobody ever thinks of asking a tree to shape its treetops the same way as its roots”.
Paul Klee

The images Beatriz de la Rúa presents today emerge from her deepest inner self, as the outcome of her life and her artistic maturity.

The starting point is the fertile and informal blot, still intensely worked, where the shapes become bodies by means of a drawing of strong and well-defined outlines, contrasting with the lightness and subtlety of the backgrounds.

The paper is the selected support of those encounters, where these is no symbolic interpretation but a visual manifestation of the inner beats whose enchainment expresses a very personal poetry.

Earth as the “Matrimony of Heaven and Hell”, as William Blake says, is the place where Beatriz searches: though the thee which sinks its roots in the ground and raises its branches toward infinity; by the stairs that descend and ascend communicating light with darkness; through her characters minute or gigantic vertical axes, passengers of nightmares and paradises; though her birds of gloomy flights which awaken the active participation of the spectator.

Her work ranges from the obvious and tangible essence to the unknown, to the unseen, with no more rules or boundaries but the ones she herself proposes.

The metaphors achieved between the blackness of the drawing and the transparency of the colour open up multiple possibilities of dialogue.

Beatriz paints and lives profoundly. Every step and every work, is a beginning and an end at one time, is a scale on the path to a permanent self- improvement.

This is her first individual, after long training years, which acknowledges her vital commitment to the ineffable adventure of creation.

Víctor Chab


Gigantic birds;
exuberant bushes;
The wild song of a leaf in the
lonely in the misty
Security and thickness restrained
by black mineral bars:
are the inner image;
the lasting beats which
Beatriz de la Rúa proposes to
a spectator open to the
adventure of creation.