The artistic terrain of Eva Bekier

Eva Bekier was trained at the Academy of Drawing and Painting by a professor from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milwaukee, Waldemar Dinermann, and later studied at Jaime Sánchez’s Academy of Drawing and Painting in Madrid. She has exhibited her work in numerous galleries in Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid and Paris. Eva Bakier’s artistic output has gone through various stages during the last several decades, though there are certain essential qualities to which she has always remained true, such as lyrical intonation, exquisite surface treatments, or the attention she gives to the use of light, line and colour. There is something musical in her compositions, something as delicate as the tone of a violin, because like Paul Klee, she wants to “take a line for a walk”.

The greyness that appears in many of the artist’s compositions refers to areas of uncertainty in sleep and the secret language of the soul, as well as an unspoken atmosphere in which the intercourse of lovers takes place, where simultaneously all is light and all is darkness. Bekier’s artistic works between 1996 and 2001 may be described as curtains of water flooding a base where a correlation of blueness is created. One should recall that the chromaticity of blue has a double meaning: it expresses coldness, loneliness and silence, though depending on its tone, it may also signify joy and the fullness and purity of expression created around essential elements: this underscores the lyricism of human actions, seen in some of Eva’s deep compositions where the sea and horizon have the key roles.

As affirmation of the statements above, I will refer to an example from Picasso’s blue period, with its distinctive figures, whose most essential needs are not satiated — beings with sad gazes, extremely poor in their washed out robes, where blue is merely a faded colour of melancholy and darkness in this phase of the universal Spanish artist’s work. During the five years mentioned earlier, Bekier introduces vertical graphics, graphic elements, and lines that encompass the base, which is marked like a signature. A series of discrete objects emerges, which may resemble a paper boat, projections of children’s games, or a faintly sketched cyclist, presenting a formal and chromatic ecclesia on the one hand, and a singular still life on the other, in the works titled Majorka and Menorka.

A majority of the compositions from this period are untitled, perhaps because they present a fluid and fragile reality, which has nothing to do with materialism. It appears before our eyes to suggest its delicate, unimposing vision of prevailing artistic beauty. A painting is admired as an ambiguity connecting multiple elements that signify compositional pairs, in which fantastic apparitions and statements reach toward Tapies, though more evidently refer to Paul Klee or Perejume, aside from those artistic properties found on damaged walls, where time has left its mark. During this period we also discover single circles and ovals, aside from feathers, windows, lampposts, or clocks — paintings which cannot be shown in museums because of their size — all created in order to be hung on the walls of homes from the 21st century, which began just as the previous century ended, in convulsions.

The lettrisme and numerology in the paintings conjure a textual mimetic text in which numbers and their symbolic meanings appear alongside German words with the immortal X added, which can be understood as the formulation of an intercultural address. The name Lettrisme originates from the first works of this movement which were comprised of letters, fragments of speech, visual symbols, and so on. Lettrisme defined itself as a cultural movement, in search of a renewal of all areas of knowledge and life. The main achievement of the movement is Hypergraphia (which can be seen as one of the predecessors of present-day computer hypertext), art consisting of organizing letters and various symbols in order to replace the fine arts (figurative as well as abstract forms). Lettrisme uses all art forms as media for expression, including the cinema, dance, or painting, and because of that its works surpass what will in the future become Happenings or Conceptual Art.

In all traditions, letters have symbolic meanings which are sometimes divided in two, according to sound and symbol. This belief most likely comes from primitive pictograms and ideograms, aside from the system of cosmic connections. Letters have meanings in alchemy, too: A is the beginning of things; B is the relation of the four elements; C is sacrifice; G is decomposition; M is the androgynous state of water, though the letter also has a truly symbolic and sacred meaning, because it contains both the masculine and the feminine. Some contemporary philosophers have even gone as far as to establish a relationship between letters and colours. Numerology is a fortune-telling practice which uses digits. It also has a store of beliefs and traditions which are intended to establish mystical ties between numbers, living beings and physical or spiritual forces. They were commonly sought by the first mathematicians, though it is not considered a mathematic discipline. Scholars refer to numerology as a pseudo-science, much like astrology is viewed in comparison to astronomy, or the way alchemy is perceived, though it was protoplastic in relation to chemistry.

In numerology, it is said that numbers are one of man’s loftiest and most ideal notions. According to its followers, numerology is a discipline meant for searching out the “secret vibrations” of the code, and for learning to use numbers to one’s advantage, by testing their influence on people, animals, things, and events. In 530 B.C., Pythagoras proposed that there is a relation between planets and their “numerical vibrations”. Using his methodology, numerology revealed that words have a vibrating sound in accordance with the frequency of numbers, as just another face in the harmony of the world and the laws governing nature. Numbers are much more than a way to measure or weigh the things that exist around us. Pythagoras taught us that the universe should be seen as a harmonious whole, where everything gives off sound or vibration. The numbers from 1 to 9 have certain features that together designate entire life experiences. The most important numerical system in numerology is that of tens, with the exception of the Chaldean numerological school, which uses a system of eights. The secrets of the works by this Polish artist, in an esoteric blend of letters and numbers which are debtors to history, will never be fully revealed.

In Bekier’s paintings there are a few numbers which are repeated — twos and eights — perhaps because they attain such extraordinary artistic resonance and the artist realizes that by repeating a number she increases its power. Two is the juxtaposition of life and death, good and evil, nature opposed to the creator, and the moon compared to the sun. All of esotericism held that whatever is doubled is lost, though less radical views turn it into the sexualisation of every element. When it comes to the octagon, it is the sum of two squares. This refers to the intermediary form between the square (earthly order) and the circle (eternal order), or a symbol of renewal, a virtue of painting which is distinct in the artist’s pieces. Its form is related to the two intertwined snakes of caduceus (balance between opposing forces, spiritual strength equal to the power of nature). It also symbolizes the eternal spiral movement of the heavens. As well, the number eight was the emblematic numeral of baptismal waters in the Middle Ages. After an exhibit in Paris in 2005, her work was acknowledged by critics and poets. J. Dantem described her paintings as “beautiful works which conjure dreams and emotions”. Luna Benemugui describes their themes: “Damaged walls, traces of paint, the beauty of a degraded city”, and ventures to use the most ideal epithet of all: “Poetry”. Martin Malkonian remarks that Bekier “with her courage leaves traces of herself in her paintings”. However, it is perhaps Spanish art critic Amalia García Rubí who most deeply divined the personality in life and art of Eva Bekier, in her description several years ago in the periodical “El Punto de las Artes”. I quote:… Rumblings of postmodernism are transformed in Eva’s paintings into accepted certainties, simultaneously containing the quandaries and outbursts which are requisite to the creative process, introducing areas of painting which may someday replace plastic fibres.

Bekier is now working on paper exclusively, using medium and small formats and acrylic as a fast-drying material; she is presenting a certain informalism of unknown matter in her works, built from a mixture of equal parts of understanding, emotion, thought, and poetry. In her compositions from 2002-2012, colour takes over, with a predominance of blues, reds and whites (as well as greens and yellows, to a lesser degree); gray has made a reappearance, and has come to stay. Manifold structures coexist in these paintings, the purpose of which is to complete a puzzle, a geography of painting, a world map of feelings. She still constructs her works using words upon words, a personal alphabet arranged into verse, with the addition of stains as a focal mark, aside from magic, alchemy, which aspired to transform reality into an ambiguous symbol, wounding and unusually clean, torn from deep truth.

Carlos García-Osuna, Writer, Journalist and Art Critic
Publisher of the periodical Tendencias del Mercado del Arte (Tendencies in the Art Market)