Sep 29, 2011

PROFILE | Yago Hortal

Yago Hortal, KF23, Acrylic on Canvas, 2010

I first came across Yago Hortal one lazy afternoon, scrolling through Tumblr after a long shift working at Starbucks.  Weary from a full eight hours of no colors except for the warm browns and bland whites of coffee and frothed milk, I was caught off-guard by the swirling, Day-Glo greens and neon pinks present in KF23.  The application of the paint and the overall execution of the piece remind me of the works of the Abstract Expressionists I admire so much, particularly Helen Frankenthaler’s vast and vibrant splatters of paint.  The rainbow color scheme is something along the lines of Lisa Frank on acid.  It was love at first sight. 

Now working from his studio in Berlin, Hortal previously lived and studied his craft in Barcelona, Spain.  Upon learning this information I immediately felt inclined to relate his use of color to the colorful avaunt-garde works of Gaudi found all around the city.  And indeed, though Hortal never refers specifically to Gaudi, he does relate the city to his work, as stated in this interview during a recent gallery exhibition:
“I think everything is related.  You can’t be a painter or an artist, different from who you are in life.  It doesn’t seem coherent.  It all has to be the same thing.”
The free application of undulating masses of paint like the swirling, storming cloud in Hortal’s KF23 is prevalent in much of his professional work.  As Hortal himself states, this is meant to be nonrepresentational, though he finds no fault in people who view his work finding their own meanings and symbols.  In the same interview, he explains this further:
“… I never like to ‘close’ a painting, so people can say ‘oh, this is this’ or ‘it seems to be that.’  If ‘it seems to be that’ it’s a good thing because it means people are imagining their own things.  If you want to see something, you see it.  If others see something else, that’s good too.  It’s a continuous evolution.”

Yago Hortal, V12, Acrylic on Canvas, 2007

It is much harder to find any form represented in V12, an earlier piece from Hortal done in 2006.  This work, though its color scheme is much different from KF23, still shares much in common with his later work.  The DayGlo 1980s color scheme is gone; Hortal uses a very de-saturated color palette in this piece, save for the pop of red and yellow in the center.  However, the paint is still applied to the canvas in a combination of free splatters and deliberate streaks of marbled shades of blues, purples, and greens.
Hortal’s style is a testament to its medium.  It is simply about the act of painting, applying the medium to the canvas, and making aesthetic decisions with no result other than the painting itself.  The art is non-representational, or it allows for us to make our own assumptions and find our own painting within the painting,” so to speak.  As Hortal says about his own work (might I say that he is an incredibly eloquent and quotable artist!):
“A painting that talks about painting, and in consequence, about its own language autonomy, is a whirlpool that extends to infinity, a pictorial-rational loop.”
Hortal’s entire body of work can be viewed on his web site, and he maintains a blog, though it is in Spanish and may require the use of an online translator if you do not speak the language.
-Rachel Clark

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