Connie Lloveras Unspoken words

Connie Lloveras:  Unspoken Words/Palabras Mudas

Catalog Essay for Retrospective Exhibition 1990 to 2000

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Panama

By Carol Damian, Former director of the Frost Art Museum

The use of unrecognizable imagery and symbolism to create personally meaningful forms of representation is common to all periods of artistic production.  Over the many periods of Art History, a symbolic repertoire has developed that is complex and significant on an individual as well as universal level.  For example, the shape of a cross, house, pyramid, circle, flower or leaf, can be a simple artistic device or laden with meaning that changes with time and place.  Art is a language as much as it is an instrument of knowledge and communication.  It is a reflection, often an intimate confession, of life’s experiences.

Connie Lloveras uses art as a reflection of her most intimate feelings and experiences.  She has developed her own personal artistic vocabulary of symbols as a return to a more explicit content imagery that combines strands of Expressionism, Surrealism, New Image Painting and Mixed Media Construction in works that range from two dimensional to relief to sculptural.  In a multimedia approach to the creation of her work, she also explores the role of materials as an indication of meaning. Clay is not only a substance of great ritual and historical value that comes from the Earth to replicate figures that range from the real to the fantastic and form domestic and religious structures that are both temporal and eternal, it is malleable and capable of incredible diversity in texture and shape.  Paint has been used to mark surfaces and transmit visual messages for thousands of years.  Sculpture may be formed out of a multitude of materials and plays a role in society that moves from that of craft to the most respected historic, propagandistic and religious document.  Connie Lloveras is among the few artists who can move effortlessly between these media and the dimensions that distinguish painting from sculpture.

Trained as a painter, she turned to clay many years ago so she could get “off the wall” and bring a variety of surface textures and innovative content to her imagery.  She now creates paintings, watercolors, prints, drawings, ceramic tile installations and clay sculptures that are rich in texture.  The experience of working in clay enhances the artist’s ability to augment a painting’s surface and allows for a more thorough exploration of form and materials.  It is the depth of physical involvement with materials that distinguishes the works of Connie Lloveras and give it emotional resonance.  Her personal repertoire of images, signs and symbols are given new physicality and import as tactile objects.

The vocabulary of symbols that Lloveras has developed over the years speaks to her deep concerns with life’s order, travails, gifts and temporality.  As a woman, mother, wife, and artist, she has struggled to maintain a proper equilibrium and concentrate on her creative and emotional needs.  Undoubtedly, the images she creates express these roles:  house forms, hands, breasts, trees, crosses, and circles are especially fervent and personal symbols.  The titles of her works also portray the significance of this artistic repertoire as more than merely aesthetic shapes and forms.  “Unspoken Words,” “Interior Gardens,” “Blind Faith,” In Silence,” “Acceptance,” Hurdles,” “Trials of Endurance,” “Cup Runneth Over,” and “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” are among the most poignant and revealing.  They express universal concerns that transcend the ages and go beyond platitudes to invite the viewer to respond and identify with the art as an emotional object.

Connie Lloveras uses symbols in interesting compositional arrangements that occur as unique ways of presentation, appropriation, combination and narration.  She manipulates the signs on canvas or clay so that they can be experienced as physical object, an abstract configuration or psychological or emotional associative, a receptacle for applied paint or material, and/or combinations of any of these.  She is never interested in a realistic portrayal of an idea, but rather the personal poetic power that makes the viewer reconsider normal modes of identification and perception when they see an image.  For example, a house has both abstract and direct associations.  It references human experience so it has both figurative and narrative potential as an art object/sign.  The house becomes an allegory for the artist’s life experiences, particularly when described by a woman who is cognizant of the expectations of her role in a domestic environment.  So too are wings potent carriers of (angels) of nature (Birds).  They are symbols of flight, escape, freedom and beauty.  Nature is omnipresent and a most significant inspiration in her work.  The cosmos affects the cycles of life.  The sun suggests light and heat and the basis of all life, as well as the passage of time.

Figurations reminiscent of fertility goddesses and ancient totems are filled with ritual and history, and the power of the Divine Feminine.  Lloveras’ power is with the markings that can be interpreted on many levels, without assuming a rhetorical posture determined by the artist.  They can be seen as metaphors for psychological and spiritual emptiness in a world where it is often difficult to communicate truly with others.  The placement of the figures and their relationships with other objects, textures and markings force the viewer to confront her or his own loneliness or sense of alienation, while contemplating the power of spirituality from its ancient beginnings.  Her art pays attention to the world it occupies, especially the world of the artist.  Consciously and unconsciously, Connie Lloveras creates images that express myths, dreams, symbols and mystery that historically dominated the art of painting and sculpture for thousands of years and are now revealed within the context of modern life.

Within compositions that can be as planar a they are solid and volumetric; in paintings and objects that play on surface textures to reinforce a symbol’s implication, Connie Lloveras creates a subtle tension between abstract flatness and illusionistic relief that is possible only because of here mastery of both the painted and the sculpted forms.  Particularly interesting are the suggestions of primitive coding that emerge from her mixing of figurative contours, hieroglyphic and graffiti-like signs that speak of collective and personal concerns, natural and hybrid images, and solid forms.  There is a hint of redemptive power in all of them.  It is as though the artist can purge the world of its problems, and hers with them, by creating an abstract language and putting it forth in works of art.