“Entrelíneas” Individual exhibition. ECA Riba-roja de Túria (Valencia)





We live in a world marked by duality, by polarity, by dialectics, by contradiction. To breathe is to alternate inhalation and exhalation, one does not occur without the other, and when either of them stops, we expire. We wake when we stop sleeping. We live between day and night. The nature of the artist is “to be between”, between reality and imagination, between their own world and the one that surrounds them, between uncountable stimuli, situations, conversations, news, events, experiences, and their personal way of  processing them, internalising them, of making them their own. When this happens, sooner or later an overriding need arises to express their emotions, their thoughts, to share with others this fire that burns inside. A tense situation between two poles that turns into a curse when the conflict drags on in time – eternity as torture –  or intensifies in space. Fortunately, this alternating current can also provide the creative energy that ends up being expressed in works of art.  


Time and space make up the fundamental parameters of existence, they are the constant coordinates of life, the complex junction that comes together in the present. Time made space, the frozen moment, the thoughtful rhythm, are inseparable from the way in which Carmen Baena (Benalúa de Guadix, Granada, 1967) approaches sculpture, drawing and her essentially pictorial embroidery. For years she has focussed her artistic practices on the presence and power of white marble, on the delicacy of line as a graphic process. Lines that in her latest series have returned (anthropologically speaking) to being threads. Embroidered threads that flow, zigzagging across the surface of the paper or canvas as they magically reflect light or feed the unsettling darkness of the shadows.   


A shadow is a fleeting trace, either because of the passing of solar time or because of the shifting in space of the object, animal or person itself. A shadow is a fiction produced by a source of light (natural or artificial) and is positioned between the object that throws it and the space where it is projected. Going back to this between with which the title of this exhibition begins, exterior and interior can be special correlates of the past and future, crossroads experienced or dreamt of that coexist in the artist’s own world and in the present-made-space of her works: sculptures, drawings or paintings.   


What defines a poetic language is that the one who does (writes, draws, paints, sculpts…) is inseparable from the how (writes, draws, paints, prints…). The latter is never neutral or innocent. Consciously or unconsciously, actively or passively, the work not only reflects the technical expertise and projects nuances of the author’s personality, but also has a life of its own and leaves a large degree of leeway to the viewer to analyse the works, read them, interpret them, to be carried away by them. To the Greeks, poiesis was the quintessential creative act, the true construction of beauty. 








The theme that connects the four series that make up this exhibition is landscape, or better put, the deep, intimate, autobiographical relationship the artist feels with nature, with the land where she grew up. Trained as a sculptor, in the “Áureo” series, white marble and gold leaf take us to a personal universe where purity and eternity seem to shake hands in complicity. We should not forget that white is the sum of all the colours of light, an almost immaterial totality. As for gold, its real value lies in its timelessness, it does not become corrupted, it is eternal.

In the three remaining series, Susurros entre líneas (Whispers between the lines), Horizontes en círculo (Horizons in a circle) and Jardín vertical (Vertical garden), the thread unarguably takes the leading role. Embroidered on paper or on canvas, thousands of metres run over the different surfaces that offer an impressive range of variations in colour and light. The repetition of a brief movement is capable of expressing an infinite play of differences that defy any mechanical interpretation. Just as with poetry, what the reader ends up rewriting mentally between the lines is as important as the written lines themselves. In the pieces by Carmen Baena, these embroidered threads leave numerous empty spaces that invite us to enjoy and complete, not only with our movement, but with the active participation of our imagination.  


The concept of landscape appears associated with that of geographical territory and, to no lesser degree, with that of the point of view – to enjoy a good landscape it is necessary to be situated in a certain place – and it is in the happy conjunction of both factors when its full meaning emerges. From this double perspective it seems especially pertinent to stress an unquestionable fact from the beginnings of abstraction early in the last century: not only is it possible to look outward from inside, but that others can see the reality the artist constructs without figurative references.

This simple fact entailed an authentic revolution that has conditioned not so much our approach to the natural landscape, but practically any everyday act we carry out. The everyday that is usually conditioned by routine, mechanical repetition, lack of awareness of what we are doing or stop doing… but that can be seen as radically different when shown to us by other eyes.  


It is precisely this ability to transform our gaze (to see is to know) on that which surrounds us that has been an everlasting quality of the artist, of the poet. Entrelíneas (Between the lines) is an interesting approach to the incredible capacity of the visual arts to make us enjoy and reflect on the wide range of possibilities offered to us when we open the doors of the imagination and look at what surrounds us adopting the extra-ordinary stance of the artist.  





Some say that lines do not exist in nature, that they are a human invention to set in two dimensions the three dimensions of that which surrounds us, to grasp volumes conceptually and construct our limited conceptions from complexity. Nowadays, it seems all lines have ceased to be clear and simple, have turned into nets, meshes, skeins, more or less indecipherable contexts. The concept of linearity of history was blown to smithereens by the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Even borderlines, always cunningly self-serving, have not ceased to be an inexhaustible source of conflict. What no-one can argue about is the material reality of these threads that, disobeying the rectangularity of the warp and woof, interweave in a poetry that is complex in its simplicity, evocative of experiences as individual as universal. 


It is precisely the experiences lived through and the reflections made, felt, internalised, that have been the breeding ground from which springs the set of works that make up these last series: Susurros entre líneas, Horizontes en círculo and Jardín vertical. Like a graphic analogue to the flight of an aeroplane that traces white, fading parallels across the celestial sphere, the lines of white, gold, green, black threads have taken on a crucial prominence in her artistic work. Lines that dizzily replicate non-stop, that tauten, come together and expand in a constant game of shaping a singular space with deep autobiographical and symbolical roots. It is specially complicated, and certainly fruitless, to try to establish a single discursive thread, unambiguous and unidirectional. On the contrary, it is firstly advisable for our vision to move without complexes and without ties – somewhere between fascinated and hypnotised –  and follow the enthralling game of beautifully entwined embroidered threads, of organic and organised lines that lead us over profound surfaces of skies and gardens, through optical labyrinths and lyrical compositions, through dreamscapes of distant archetypes, through mirrored symmetries of dark, impenetrable quicksilver.


Enveloping lines that plough the air and dreams, waters and nightmares, the mountains that reverberate with the echo of caves occupied since the dawn of time. Threads that repeat like the sound of quicksand, threads that entwine with the exquisite expertise of someone who masters technique going beyond the tools, the time, the hours. There is a lot that is ritual in these spaces full of resources, solutions, interpretive keys, of movement become traces, of energy in motion that touches us with its vibrant contrast of bright threads and shadows, twinkling like starlit nights.   Winds of freedom, that blow between the white of the marble and the empty spaces that modulate these infinite lines in a surprising scale of tones. The white of purity, of spirituality, the gold of omnipotent eternity, the ochre of ripe wheat, the green of spring, the blue of the night, all bring to life compositions of extraordinary and complex simplicity. An infinite totality of spherical horizons where we can make out the vibrant reflection of light or of land in its infancy.


Juan Bautista Peiró

Universitat Politècnica de València

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