Exhibition at the Fondacion Museo Eugenio Granell
Santiago de Compostela, Spain – July 20 – September 24, 2017
Artist Statement for the MEDEA SUITE
Mythology is a powerful element that shapes humanity. Old legends spanning millennia have created heroes and religions, defined beliefs and became deeply embedded in our universal consciousness. I have chosen two stories from different cultures and different times and continents, as the subjects for my current exhibition, LEGENDS.
The first group of works is inspired by the myth of Medea, the archetype of the abused woman taking revenge on her victimiser. As with most myths, various interpretations exist regarding the murder of her children. Euripides was among the first to attribute the deaths of Medea’s children to her own hand, although other versions abound.
In these mixed media works on paper I focused on Medea’s plight, by concentrating on her face and thoughts. What went on behind those eyes turned inwards, contemplating the destruction of her life, her security and her sense of belonging? The ghostly shadows of the children she is about to lose to another woman are a haunting and surreal presence. The daydream of a life with her beloved, for whom she gave up everything, becomes a garden of flowers growing from her head. Medea’s story has all the elements of human tragedy: love, betrayal and the yearning for justice.
Installations views of LEGENDS
Fondacion Museo Granell
Works from the MEDEA Suite
Medea’s Children, 1984, media on mixed media on paper, 35×53 cm.
Sorrow, 1984 mixed on paper, 37.5×32.5 cm
Medea, 1984, mixed media on paper, 35×53 cm.
Dream, 1984, mixed media on paper, 43×32 cm.
Totem, 1984, mixed media on paper, 57×42 cm
Jason and Medea, 1984, mixed media on paper, 27×37 cm.
Three Generations, 1984, mixed media on paper, 32×48 cm
Daydream, 1984, mixed media on paper, 76×56 cm.
Artist Statement for the CANNIBAL BIRDS SUITE
The second group of works, part of the extensive series of ‘The Cannibal Birds Suite’, is based on an ancient initiation practice of the Hamatsa secret society of the Kawakawa’kwa Nation, a West Coast aboriginal people.
The initiation ritual begins with a young man being sent to the forest where he encounters the fierce Cannibal Bird who attempts to devour him; in the ensuing struggle the youth prevails and becomes a man-eating bird himself. Dressed in hemlock leaves, gnashing his teeth and biting people on his way, now a Cannibal Bird himself, he returns to the Potlach, the winter dance festival, While dancing around the fire, he regains his humanity and finds his song, which is private property in that culture. This powerful myth of overcoming one’s demons and finding one’s soul compelled me to create a number of works on this subject. An important element in some of these works is a forest symbolizing our soul’s wanderings among the trees, in search of truth. Cannibal Birds lurk among the trees; they are the demons we have to face so that we may find ourselves.
The Cannibal Bird series of mixed media works on paper bring the viewer to a surrealistic place, where the trees in the forest become white mazes hiding ghosts of mythical birds. Their sharp beaks have torn the paper below in long gashes, a warning to the brave soul who dares enter this dangerous place. This imagery is symbolic of souls wondering through the wilderness and coming face to face with their own demons that have to be conquered if the souls are to survive. However, in Masks in Flames, the forest has vanished and is now replaced by geometric silhouettes of skyscrapers hinting to the still unconquered dangers in our time.
Always resorting to a great variety of media and techniques, in the late seventies Granirer’s work took a turn that would bring it significantly closer to Surrealism. A few weeks ago I wrote in these pages that we need a book about Surrealism and Amerindian cultures. One of the chapters of this book would have to be devoted to Pnina Granirer ‘s work between 1978 and 1981, which was inspired by the landscape and rich native cultures of the Pacific Northwest and which brings to us a vision that Agustin Espinoza would have described as “integral”, that is to say, as poetic and non-‐realist.
The fantastic totems, the masks and the sumptuous feasts that characterize Kawakawa’kwa (Kwakiutl) culture attracted Vincent Bounoure, for whom Kwakiutl art was the most “violently tormented” and the most “expressive and colorful.” Edward S. Curtis dedicated to it a full chapter of his book North American Indians, chapter 10 titled Chamanes y deidades (Shamans and Deities), translated by Olañeta in 1994.”
José Miguel Pérez Corrales
Works from the Cannibal Birds Suite
White Forest with Cannibal Birds, 1981, mixed media on paper, 76×56 cm.
Green Cannibal Birds, 1981, mixed media on paper, 76×56 cm.
Masks in Flame, 1981, mixed media on paper, 76×56 cm.
Forest Ghosts, 1981, mixed media on paper, 56×76 cm.