Notes for a study of the work of Francisca Benedetti

M’illumino d’immenso

The first thing one notices about Francisca Benedetti’s work is that taken to its logical extreme, geometric abstraction is actually a radical incarnation of modesty. It is not an extreme cleansing or rejection of emotions but rather the overwhelming imminence of them. Every segment of her compositions; her syntax and the nigh-on insane perfection and accuracy of her architecture, her meandering tangle of lines and veins and the precision of the laws according to which the work is constructed, both conceal and expose the intimate forms of the world. Francisca Benedetti highlights the barely tangible frontier, an infinitesimally thin line, that separates our lives; often shaken by asymmetry and the disorder of everyday events and the constructions that life has imposed upon them, from acts, from who we are, from a glimpse of the infinite – from eternity. The pieces in this exhibition reflect the most individual and sensitive aspects of our gazes, offering up the entire compendium of unending scenes, glimpses, memories, attraction and indifference of which our gaze consists. Our entire existence is contained within our gaze.

Brought to its logical extreme, geometric abstraction is also a path to ascesis, where the micro-world of drawing is the exact double of the macro-world of the universe. The relationship between Francisca Benedetti’s work and this path of knowledge is obvious, however it seems to me that the deeper relationship is with romanticism, almost to the point that it represents its culmination. If we can describe Benedetti’s art as abstract, the nature of that abstraction is of the same stuff as the romantic vision. Like romanticism, the passion in Benedetti’s work is a passion for the infinite and the artworks exhibited here are an exceptional example of that. The difference is that in romanticism the ideal is exterior, in idealized visions, while in Benedetti the ideal is within: each of these artworks is the dream dreamed by the work itself.

Heavily laden with dreams and passion, each of Benedetti’s constructions provides the score for the concert that we perform every day in which life, in its brevity and finitude, is combined with the most sophisticated and potentially insane of human visions: the vision of eternity. Far from tranquillity and complacency, these pure paintings exemplify the wonder and horror of all purity, making their hidden dimensions even more evident. Tempestuous, raw and impure, our observing faces are contained with this work; contained by a force that could never be concealed. Every centimetre of these pieces resonates with the life rhythms of the life that observes it.

It seems to me that this is what the hundreds of small pieces on which Francisca Benedetti has been working, which now cover an entire wall of the exhibition gallery, convey. The size of a postcard, each of these paintings seems to rise out of different unidentifiably deep layers, their surfaces appearing like the salvaged remains of a shipwreck. The geometric works, formal antipodes, actually complement them as both the flip-side of the coin and their sole base metal. They are clippings, almost invisible examples of a chromatic subconscious to which all of humanity belongs. We are born and die with these colours and shapes at the moment they form and disappear, and this shows us the essential bond between the strokes of the brush or pencil on the canvas and the marks that our lives imprint upon the general course of existence. Her masterstroke consists of supplying us with a counter-narrative, a factor that has become a fundamental part of Francisca Benedetti’s work. Replete with delicacy and passion, rigour and emotion, refinement and strength, her work has invented a new way of understanding the spaces that we inhabit and those that inhabit us.

This is just a tiny part of everything that this exemplary artist brings to the table. The rest consists of our faces, which will inevitably be reflected in the glass cases that cover the pieces, albeit faintly, teaching us that the most incredible aspect of existence is contained within the imperceptible subtlety of the reflection. In this way, Francisca Benedetti masterfully provides us with a glimpse of our own eternity.


Raúl Zurita
June, 2015