oil on canvas, 255x235cm
Miguel Ybáñez shows no sign of hesitation as he creates potent gestural formations on an epic scale. The diagonal slant of the composition gives the work an impression of motion. A labyrinth of structures has been exposed that hints towards an essential message.
The artwork should be seen in relation to a series of paintings that explore a metaphysical path of the search to the inner self. The painting is aptly entitled Purified, perhaps referring to the process in which the individual is ridding him/herself from material, intellectual or emotional constraints in order to walk the path of spiritual enlightenment. A pale yellow flipped over ‘4’ separates the painting into sections. In the top isolated area a dark abstracted figure can be observed, this could be seen as the individual detaching him/herself from the physical world in order to engage in spiritual reflection. Humourously, in the lower, right-hand corner, a dark clump seems to have been excreted by a grinder-like construction or purifier, possibly a reference to the title of the artwork.
oil on canvas, 200x154cm
The upper section of the painting echoes the sufferings that mankind periodically endures during persecutions and holocausts. The lower section of the painting is submerged in the gentle light of forgivingness, erasing all memories of suffering, fear and injustice.
The final prayer of a Jewish prisoner in a German extermination camp expresses the message of the painting in a deeply moving way.
Once you come in your glory,
do not only behold of men of good intent,
behold also those of bad intent.
But do not look upon their atrocities.
Behold of the fruit that these atrocities
bore in spite of all:some of us were taught patience,
Behold the comrade,
the humbleness, the greatness of heart and loyalty
we acquired thanks to them.
Give us the grace that the fruit we may have deserved through our ordeal may once be their redemption.
Nocturnal Reflections 2 Anticipating reflections with anguish in boo: Cages for a passionate song. , 1991
oil on panel, 64x99cm
This painting is part of a series of five paintings entitled Nocturnal Reflections that is part of a larger body of work entitled The Four Seasons of Reflection. Nocturnal Reflections has a contemplative character. Deep blue dominates the series. In art, this shade of blue has often been used. It was, for example, the signature colour of German Romanticism (late 18th century). The colour derived from the fictitious blue flower, which stood for desire, love, and a metaphysical striving for the infinite, values which could also be applied to Nocturnal Reflections.
Observing Nocturnal Reflections 2, a dynamic relationship can be noted between the already vanishing foreground structure, and the silhouettes that these structures leave behind in the background. The painting could serve as a metaphor for our own experiences and memories that fade away over time. A process of an erasing memory: showing the future memory of the past.
oil on canvas, 110x95cm
This composition contains figurative fragments. The first is a dematerialising snail, the second a needle. Both objects are composed on a golden plane. In the dark blue background, traces of other dimensions are fading away.
The surrealist undertones, lead us to the field of dreams. The influential thinker Carl Jung noted that the snail is representative of the self in dreams. In psychology, the soft insides stand for to the unconscious, as the shell is seen as the conscious. Since the snail’s shell is being deconstructed, the painting might encourage awareness of the unconscious. Once the snail has dematerialised completely, he might fit through the eye of the needle. A fitting passage in the bible points out:
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” Matthew 19:24 (note the golden plane in the painting)
oil on paper, 110x80cm
Few are the artworks that possess the strength and inner meaning of this painting by Miguel Ybáñez. A mysterious emerald coloured atmosphere surrounds the silhouette of a skull that seems to be suspended in its environment. The skull has been overlapped by a large white form that may represent the number one. The painting might be seen as the ultimate modern memento mori, as the shadow of the skull reminds us of our mortality; pointing out the transiency of life. Pictorially, the ancestral past is left far below, only visible through a flaky sea of mist. Metaphysically speaking, the seeker is striving to unite, or become one, with God through meditation.
This painting follows on from the much darker untitled mixed media painting of 1997, mixed media (also seen here).
Gradual 13: I will Move to Cariathiarin. Eyelids Closed., 1991
oil on canvas, 210x175cm
This painting is part of a series of 15 works entitled Graduales, a series alluding to sacred spaces. The painting’s sub-title refers to the Old Testament. Cariathiarin (today, Kiriath-Jearim) was a city where the Holy Ark* was carried to, after a rage had been cast upon the city of Beth-shemesh (where the ark was originally kept).
Metaphorically speaking, Gradual 13 could be seen as depicting the rage starting to calm down. To symbolise this process, Ybañez painted a blazing flash of lightening that forecasts the approaching rain. A cool, tranquil stream of water starts to make its way through the still smoldering remains, visualised vertically on the painting.
*The Holy Ark: Is described in the Bible as a sacred container, in which the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments were kept.
mixed media on paper, 110x80cm
A dense composition of intricate structures, mainly painted in black, dominate the scene. The added textural elements and the yellow light on the uneven brick pattern create a rich surface fabric. Towards the top, the darkness becomes more profound, while glowing red ripples sweep over the lower quarter of the painting. It seems as though something has been coyly concealed in the depth of the painting.
This work is best understood as the precursor of the painting Untitled of 1997 (seen here too), which is of the same size and year. The current painting could be regarded as a preliminary stage of the metaphysical concept of the dark night of the soul. In this manner of interpretation, the scene is dominated by sooty debris, evocative of the remnants of a house, a metaphor for the self, attempting to separate him/herself from material attachments in order to commence the journey of introspection.
Table of Memories Gone by, 1993
oil on canvas, 154x200cm
This painting holds a key position in the oeuvre of Miguel Ybáñez. At the one hand it points at the philosophy by which Ybáñez fathoms the riddles of multidimensionality and at the other it visualises his rational for doing so; penetrating into a spatial frame in which present, past and future fuse into timelessness (somehow like entering into dream consciousness).
Within the grey tones of the still life, in the lower part of the image, remnants of shapes that are in the process of losing their materiality flow into one another. Between the lower and the upper part of the still life runs a broad, dark, horizontal dividing line, which forms a table-like structure on the brim of which a disintegrating still life is eccentrically draped.
Studying the title, we could suppose the objects to be symbols of memories, which fade over time. Time then decays, while space loses its dimensionality. We witness how object bound existence transcends into pure self-being.
Gradual 10 - From childhood on I have been often assailed.
Upon my back was built
A network of squares
Whatever. Water and wind of ZION
oil on canvas, 204x172cm
Gradual 10 is part of a series of 15 works entitled Graduales, a series alluding to sacred spaces. The series has been featured in the catalogue Psalms of 1992. Thus, it can be ascertained that the painting contains strong spiritual ties.
As the title of the artwork suggests, the painting considers memories of the past and more specifically raw experiences of the artist’s youth. Though the subject may be loaded, the painting approaches the theme in a positive manner, not least because of the use of bright colours. The encrypted title ends with the phrase ‘Water and Wind of Zion*’ and so, perhaps, metaphorically speaking, the water and wind will erase the memories of the past. In this context the painting could be regarded as an emblem of hope.
In the accompanying catalogue Tony Bueler wrote the following poetic interpretation intended for this painting:
Wired gate to the primeval of your sources swell,
myriads of lighting showers piercing veils of oblivion,
blissful fragrance of foreboding,
soothing pangs of separation.
*Zion: In the Old Testament Zion was the easternmost of the two hills of ancient Jerusalem. In biblical usage, “Mount Zion” often means the city rather than the hill itself. It has great religious importance because Mount Zion is the place where Yahweh, the God of Israel, dwells.
(Britannica p. 922 Micropaedia Ready Reference, book 12, 15th Ed. 1994)