La sal. Salinas de Bonanza, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, 2017-2019
|Title||La sal. Salinas de Bonanza, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, 2017-2019|
|Medium||Oil, tempera, and charcoal on wood|
|Dimensions||153 x 280 cm|
|Copyright||© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022; de las fotografías | all photographs: Archivo Helga de Alvear | Joaquín Cortés|
Soft light, silence. A matte reflection of white mountains of salt in the water, with a grey sky above. On the horizon – could that be the sea? The Bonanza salt works are located near the Spanish town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where the Guadalquivir River flows into the Atlantic. For the artist, Carmen Láffon, this was both her home and a source of inspiration.
Carmen Láffon: "The Guadalquivir is the river of Seville, my birthplace, and it carries me to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, my other city, where I first began to paint and to dream."
This painting shares that dreamlike, otherworldly quality outside of time. Carmen Láffon presents an intimate narrative that tells of her bond with this landscape. The common thread is the writing, the story. With its personal portrayal, the painting resembles a diary entry, a note or a letter. For a long time, those literary forms were the only way in which women could express themselves artistically. That’s why autobiographical writing was considered a predominantly female literary genre, often seen as inferior. The same was true in the visual arts.
But relating to her subject on an emotional level also places Láffon in proximity to Romantic painting. There, the portrayal of a landscape mirrored a spiritual mood and served to express an emotional relationship with the natural world. But Laffón's rendering of the subject marks her out as modern. With a limited palette and reduced stylistic idiom, she comes close to abstraction. Her choice of colours may, in turn, have been inspired by her fascination with Spanish Baroque painting, which she had studied closely.
This painting was one of Laffón’s final works. With this mature piece, she demonstrates her determination to tell a story, a determination which is influenced by the emotional content, but also conveys a powerful monumental quality. The painting is part of a series devoted to the Bonanza salt works, on which the artist worked until her death in 2021 at the age of 87.