Reflecting upon Women Victims of Abuse During War.
A Posteriori II, scars is an exhibition by Colombian artist Consuelo Manrique that presents the painful history of women who have fallen prey to violence, and the path they follow to try to heal their wounds.
A Posteriori II
Consuelo Manrique’s work can be seen in several ways. We can observe it the way we might look at the canvases of the great abstract expressionists, picking up on their strength at a distance. The red stains and white strokes, would appear to be the motif of her painting; their potency is enough for them to stand on their own. On the other hand, it is necessary to approach the work in order to observe certain elements that would otherwise be imperceptible: the threads that perforate the fabric, the faint traces of graphite. We must come close to try to decipher the fine calligraphy, the delicate gestures, the same word superimposed repeatedly as though they are the imprint of voices that need to speak up, to express, to name.
The titles of the works take us beyond the purely pictorial. Words and phrases such as Violent Rooms, Return, Preludes, or Forever bring to mind fragments of a long and painful history, that of women who have fallen prey to the violent conflict in Colombia.
Since the development of the series Silent Body(2004 – 2006), the feminine form has become an iconographic resource through which Consuelo Manrique has accessed the current situation of women in this war. She has worked on this subject matter for two series now, A Posteriori I and A Posteriori II, and in both cases the idea of women and of what is feminine is referenced through traces of lace, words that are faintly written, sewing and pale strokes of graphite. However, in this second part of the series, these sources and methods transform into a more serene sort of painting, though no less profound.
There is now a dominant color scheme of shades of white, yellow and gold. The color red, although always present, no longer alludes to gouged, wounded bodies. The feminine form appears to have been subject to a healing process that only time can confer. The birdcage, a symbol that also appears in her earlier series, is now open, as something has been set free. From the open door emerges a circular strength that roams through the feminine body and throughout the canvas, and this strength is expressed through both the stitches and the straight lines that have been traced with graphite. This gravitational pull helps us realize that something still pulsates within those bodies that have been hurt and tortured by fear and pain.
A Posteriori II, was shown in France during 2017, with one of the works from the series featured in the exhibit Manières de faire, manières d’agir in March 2018. Upon her return from France, Consuelo Manrique completed the series with a few paintings that continue to allude to the process of healing that these women have experienced. They have come together to chant, to sew, and to talk, and it is through these acts of solidarity and community with each other that they have returned to life.
These works identify the scars of a body that has recovered, a body that, after enduring so much violence, might have been lost. A body that heals, that recovers, becoming affirmative territory that turns itself towards hope, towards a new beginning. Cocoons, for example, are four recent paintings of rectangular format that allude, through the use of oval shapes and vertical lines that float and hover over the fabric, to the womb, to the feminine body’s reproductive organs.
The color gold accompanies these women’s hope to leave the war behind, it celebrates with them the possibility to spawn new life. Its delicate splendor announces the triumph of Eros over Thanatos, that impulse of death that is so persistent and so ingrained in the Colombian territory.
This exhibit will be open at Beatriz Esguerra Art, from September 29 to Otober 31, 2018.
Professor of Fine Arts
Universidad Nacional de Colombia