(essay written for the solo show Fallacious memory at Caroline Pagès Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal)

With the aid of Paul Ricoeur (1) and his revision of Plato’s theory on memory as a phenomenon that allows the present creation of an absent thing, we could start by stating that all work from memory seems to imply work from representation. In that work from representation, inherent to the process of remembrance, we foresee, naturally, a process of creating images. Images that we think we have viewed before, images that we think reappear in us, images that we perceive as aids in memory’s live experience. From this process, highly visual, occurs a natural distrust. The images that allow us to reach the recollection of a certain episode, concern only and exclusively that episode? Or are they affected by the giant ocean of other images that we hold within ourselves? Beyond that, can we trust their exclusive relationship with the past and trust that mnemonic quality, or can they occur of processes of original creation, resulting in a kind of future projections of a specific present experience?

In the series of paintings on paper “Untitled (Fallacious Memory)”, now presented in the shape of a solo show in one of the rooms of Caroline Pagès Gallery, in Lisbon, AnaMary Bilbao seeks, precisely, to summon a set of questions that relate to the theme of the experience of memory. From the start, by its formal configuration. The use of the series, the adoption almost exclusively of the line and the grid, the economy of the chromatic palette, the rigor and the containment of the proceedings, fed by a repetitive and rhythmic logic in the making, seems to invite us to a universe that reviews minimalistic practices, here only contradicted by a presence, even if tenuous, of the hand, implied in the drawing of each of the lines. But the investigation about the mnemonic processes is still highly reinforced by the process itself of constructing these paintings. While observing them carefully, we recognize immediately its construction in layers (the use of the term here is not innocent, since in this process, as in processes of remembering, we assume the archaeological aspect of experience). We realize then that in the process of construction itself, a process of deconstructing is implied (the drawing of a layer of lines over plaster unveils the layer of lines beneath it, making it visible, giving it presence, building its existence). Curiously, we realize as well that, when traced, the superficial layer of lines mimics, with maximum precision, the lower layer of lines. The double image that results from the top grid of lines seems, this way, to be created so it meets – amongst the natural opacity of plaster (metaphor for forgetfulness and time) – its original image.

To conclude we would assert that, through this process of production of images that give way to other images (with a simultaneous past and present existence), AnaMary Bilbao activates, in a first instance in herself and, in a second moment, in the spectator, precisely that which we could identify as a common territory between the universe of imagination and the universe of memory. 

(1) RICOEUR, Paul – Memory, History, Forgetting. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2006.

Ana Anacleto, Oct. 2014

Translated by Susana Pomba


© 2024 AnaMary Bilbao – All Rights Reserved