The day that I visited Miguel Marina at his studio in Barcelona, the walls were covered with paintings on paper that contained the evolution of a process that was not being easy. Those paintings didn't show the implicit lightness of their paper substrate. Rather, they hung from the wall like sheets of lead, with the gravity of something that struggles to detach itself.
I immediately thought about those places where the paint had marked the paper, and about the orography contained in those strokes, which had emerged layer by layer from their own irregularities. I understood that the folds made on some of them rescued the drawing and broke the pictorial plane, creating almost sketched volumes, but nevertheless turning the surface into something intermediate, a relief of hard creases softened by classical weight that outlined its shadows and gave another dimension to Marina's indeterminate landscapes.
I remember the three characters in one of the two views of the Villa Medicis that Velázquez painted around 1630. Two of them talk in front of a Serlian arch, while a third stretches a large canvas from the upper balustrade. The bays of the arch are covered with wood boards and the landscape remains hidden behind this improvised enclosure. There is nothing in the background that distracts us from the main scene, but there is something that pulses behind the wooden boards, proclaiming that everything is there. It may sound like a simple kids' game, like hiding something inside a closed hand and wanting to possess it, whatever the cost, without even knowing what is hidden inside - or behind the boards -, if it actually hides something at all or if it even matters.
A similar sensation happens when someone observes the paintings of Miguel Marina. The image inevitably refers to landscapes, but a landscape compiled in the structure of the paper itself, turning it into a space of subtle relief brought to the surface. The work of Marina is an awareness, an analysis of painting as painting, nothing more, nothing less. It is facing the surface, assuming a set of conditions, and understanding the result as vital evidence of learning. The papers now hang from the gallery walls, as they did in his studio, pulling the wall and suggesting an indeterminate weight.
The three levels in the space also correspond with the levels of incidence in each one of the works, reducing the volume of the painting as we look down until it becomes almost a shadow that allows us to understand the process, and which, step by step, becomes a minimal trace, as if painting gives him pause. Painting with a deep respect for what painting means.
Ángel Calvo Ulloa