The Abstract Language of Carolina Guillermet

By Edgar Cherubini Lecuna
September 23, 2020
The Abstract Language of Carolina Guillermet

The Abstract Language of Carolina Guillermet

By Edgar Cherubini Lecuna

Before talking about the Swiss-Costa Rican artist Carolina Guillermet (1979)
and her proposals in development, it seems appropriate to take a look at the universe
of abstraction for a moment, a tendency that transformed the vision of the world
through art. In the first place, I turn to Kathleen Hall, a student of this movement
who, referring to the emergence of Abstract Art at the end of the 19th century and
especially to the founding fathers of the movement, Wassily Kandinsky, Frantisek
Kupka, Piet Mondrian and Kazimer Malevich, expresses that these artists felt
themselves as the messengers of a metaphysical world and communicating this
knowledge became the goal of their art. The language with which these artists
translated their vision of that world was abstraction: "they were scribes who painted
what could not be said with words”. 1
With his work Composition in Red, Blue and Yellow (1930), Piet Mondrian uses only
straight lines and basic colors. Mondrian had avidly read the theosophical essays by
Blavatsky (1831-1891) and Mathieu Schoenmaekers (1915), in which the latter
argued: “The two fundamental absolute extremes that make up our planet are: the
horizontal line of force, that is, the trajectory of the Earth around the Sun, and the
vertical and deep spatial movement of the rays originating from the center of the Sun.
The three main colors are yellow, blue, and red. There are no more colors than
those”. Mondrian adopted geometric shapes and primary colors to represent the
complex structure of the universe.
For his part, Auguste Herbin (1882–1960) begins to elaborate his entirely geometric
works from a code invented by him and which he called Alphabet Plastique,
establishing correspondences between the letters of the alphabet, colors, geometric
shapes and musical notes. The artist stated that colors by themselves have "spatial
power”. 2
I quote Herbin, since the artist Carolina Guillermet, in the process of constructing her
speech, expresses that “she uses color and form to build an abstract vocabulary, whose
effects suggest a kind of ‘emotional architecture’, both spatial and sensory, which is
related to the interaction of patterns and rhythms to extract different perceptions of
light, volume, and even incite synesthetic responses through their combinations ”.
That is what she proposes in her paintings, made with surfaces and colors. In this way,
geometric elements create tensions, since flat colors provoking chromatic effects of
space and vibration, geometric compositions form structures that recall constructions
or architectural forms. "I believe in the meditative construction of the visible and, in
the approach to color, I see a possibility of playing with affects that are not restricted

by an excess of rationality," says the artist when she sets out to modify the perception
of colors through contrasts that interact in their designs. The chromatic and structural
values of her geometric abstraction are the resources she uses to create an
autonomous language with which she communicates her perceptions.
The artist does not hesitate to quote as her references Johannes Ittens and Josef
Albers, both important figures of the Bauhaus school. In this vein, Ittens developed a
theory about the types of possible contrasts that occur between different colors and in
order to understand them better, he created the Chromatic Circle, a way to organize
the colors of the visible spectrum according to a correlative order. Meanwhile, Albers,
known for his emblematic paintings Homage to the Square, studied the phenomenon
derived from the simultaneity and interaction of colors: "Simultaneous contrast is not
just a curious optical phenomenon, it is the heart of painting ".
The Articulation of Contradictions is how Guillermet titles this series of works in
which she uses different materials and techniques to achieve levels of saturation,
luminosity and color temperature to articulate her abstract designs. In her acrylics on
canvas, when she juxtaposes the colors, she achieves a high visual contrast, whereas in
her acrylics and gouaches on paper, as well as in serigraphs, the force of expression of
the contrast of the pure color decreases as she uses colors that move away from the
three primary colors. Saturation, contrasts, and tonal values allows the observer's view
and perceptions seek to articulate contradictions until achieving a balance within
Edgar Cherubini Lecuna
Paris, June 2019

1 Kathleen Hall, Theosophy and the Emergence of Modern Abstract Art, TF Magazine, 2012, EE
2 Herbin, Auguste et Perazzone, Christian, L’art non figuratif-non objectif. Editeur Hermann,
2013, France.

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