WHISPERS IN BRONZE
All myth is representation, and hence what we are able to perceive of myth depends on the preferences and the conventions of the age it serves (or uses for its ends): paradoxically, what should be ineffable, unchanging, and unrepresentable not only succumbs to the force of the image that pushes it aside (such is the power of the artist) but also, from millennium to millennium, is the primary cause of change, the medium that links together the succession of forms of expression and styles that make up a culture. Just as a myth cannot be imagined (transposed into images) before its representation has come into being, the truly prevailing myths of our age remain shrouded in the future, lost in the churning of events, and so will it be until time causes them to well up on a backdrop of traces.
When regarding Aurora Cañero's sculptures it has always been my feeling that her sources and her metaphors are a bit like sand trickling from between one's fingers: we can never quite put our finger on their identity, or place them at a precise point in time in the history of visual art, or decipher the enigma they conjure up before us. Yet we immediately find everything in her simple figures familiar, we can enjoy her work effortlessly, serenely, as if it were freely flowing among the threads of that fabric of conventions and styles, myths and archetypes, that makes up our world view. And it is precisely that quest for fluidity that calls new formulations into being, is it not? Isn't the avant-garde always seeking a free path, clear of debris and overgrowth, that will allow the idea (or the ideal) to pass along without stumbling, to arrive safely without leaving bits of its skin on the brambles of outdated archetypes, idioms, and dogmas? It is only because Aurora Cañero's own language remains so pure that her sculpture stays mysterious and unfathomable even though there is nothing completely unfamiliar in her metaphors or her visual renditions.
Not surprisingly, all those of us who have ever analysed her work have grasped for the grain (or a pebble) left behind, trapped by the sieve. Our minds may turn to the robust, slightly synthetic forms of Aristide Maillol (1861 - 1944), the first post-Romantic (or more specifically, post-Rodin) sculptor and the father of all those - and how many there have been! - who have turned their gaze back to archaic art over the course of the twentieth century. Castro Flórez has also spoken of "an insistent dialogue with classicism". Not only do Aurora Cañero's rigorous treatment of anatomy and the sense of proportion in her sculpture hark back to the classical canon, to find that the same sobriety in Greek statuary one has to go back all the way to the Severe Style (500 - 450 BC), in which, among other innovations, reliance on the frontal view was abandoned and no less than hip movement, dictated by the supporting leg, was introduced, giving rise to the famous Greek "S" shape; but no artist from that period would have imagined as natural and relaxed a pose as that struck by the "Socorristas de Biarritz" [Biarritz Lifeguards].
I am not about to deny that this work, one of the few, though not the only, sculptures by Aurora Cañero in which the fantastic is absent as an ingredient, holds out a certain fascination for me. It shows that the mysterious appeal of her figures does not depend on their taking part in any more or less esoteric ritual (suggested by such instruments as the callipers, compass, or telescope, the circles, or the moon dress present in "Reflexiones sobre los cuerpos celestes" [Reflections on celestial bodies] or in the series "Soñando estrellas" [Star dreaming]) or on their being subsumed in a symbolic scene (like the boats in "Navegando juntos" [Sailing together] or the look-out towers in "Soñadores" [Dreamers] and "Observadores" [Watchers]) but rather that - as is the case of great art - the true message of the work is embodied in the form, irrespective of the narrative.
From a formal standpoint, on comparing Aurora Cañero's work from the decade of the 1980s with these latest works, the first thing that draws our attention is the gradual disappearance of those features that might be considered to be most specifically baroque. In that earlier period the artist would sculpt long, tangled hair waving in the wind, investigate complex folds in cloth, seek out the tension in dynamic poses. Her characters were going somewhere (as in "Caminantes" [The Walkers]), stretched out ("Equilibrios" [Balancing]), and needed the surrounding space for their existence ("La ventana" [The Window]). In contrast, in these works from the past five years, all the figures have shaven heads - which does not make them any less angelical - and are usually nude, in a relaxed attitude. The pedestal - a fundamental component in all of Aurora Cañero's work - lays out the boundaries for their worlds, or, as in the case of "Observadores" [Watchers] and "Soñadores" [Dreamers], the horizons. Rather than expanding, the figures contract in on themselves: they stop, meditate, and above all, gaze. This purity of form (the artist makes anatomy seem like the simplest of the sciences) is doubtless accompanied by a more concrete narrative. Today, Aurora Cañero's sculpture - which has always illustrated analogies and associations, possible, impossible, or unexpected relationships - spans a broad territory running the gamut from the simple visual poem (as in the series "Deseo" [Desire]) to the most complicated of metaphors staged in a carefully crafted setting. But there is no room for abusive stylizations, grandiloquent statement, or gratuitous effects, because Aurora Cañero's sculpture is, first and foremost, subtlety, it is a brush (or caress), a smile, an allusion, and a whisper.
Looking at these enigmatic figures, Marcos Barnatán wrote, "we may very well recognize in them numerous features that we find disturbing, beauty or emotions that we find recognizable, fragments of our memories or instants we may have once imagined were possible". What counts in Aurora Cañero's sculpture is the lost fragments of myth: images of the subtle and of the simple, of the obvious. These are what remained to be told, the tiny piece in a gigantic puzzle in which the probable and the impossible both reside, because the bronze lovers who scratch each