Internal Horizons. (2008)

 

A permanent, enduring, internal horizon lingers in Pere de Ribot’s paintings, a horizon that captivates the beholder.  De Ribot does not paint it, but a missing presence is there: Man as the main character of a solitary landscape, disturbing, dressed up as Arcadia.  Pere de Ribot does not wish to express pastoral peace of mind. Not as much as, at least, spiritualising the past.  The landscape is past and even more so in his painting, capable of travelling far back in time, so far back that you reach the point of departure, that point in time when the world was just scenery, a gift for mankind to fashion.

Thanks to the bird’s eye viewpoint, common in his canvases, a vast deal of scenery is taken in: endless scores of trees, possibly oaks, scattered across a dehesa in Extremadura or olive trees among the fields of the Empordà, county where the artist carries out much of his work.

Pere de Ribot lifts us across the terrain because he wishes to offer us a prospective.  The Promised Land is unveiled beneath us, fashioned by man but not yet spoilt by abuse.  Possibilities are infinite.  All we have to do is descend, organise and penetrate before it all evaporates: A fine, just sufficient, brush stroke, surrounds a tree top, a cobalt blue line stitches the horizon, white lines, parallel and perpendicular, cut the black cliffs of a savage sea.

This conquest, this sallying forth, is carried out, nonetheless, at the expense of profound melancholy.  The struggle for life throws the person into an endemic state of sadness.  Canvases wail, the absent presence is not only ours but also that of our superior self, creator of an order that we can surrender to in peace or rebel against without any hope of victory.  Whether or not this order seems perfect or not depends solely on our willingness to grow. 

Pere de Ribot, at this point, allows us to proceed in either direction.  We can submit to the natural order of things, as well as to its indubitable spirituality, or we can, also, nonetheless, claim man’s epical supremacy, of the individual that yearns for absolute solitude, that which is only enjoyed by the first Creator.

This is, without going any further, the matter that has most worried man, the anxiety of ignoring, of not knowing for certain if another truth exists beyond himself.

Pere de Ribot paints canvases on the floor and is quite at ease with large formats.  Height is essential for his gestural paintings.  The arm draws wide arches in response to a choreography that has been interiorised over many years of creation with the world at his feet.

This is how he manages to fashion a natural order, solid, immutable and simultaneously, precisely on account its obvious uncomfortable nature. The ruins on which the black cat strolls about and the cypresses that jut out from them straight into a murky sky illustrate the struggle between man’s vanity, the strength of his ambition and his faith in a redemptory God.

A transcendental reality prevails in Ribot’s landscapes.   A great ego also endures, a willingness to perfect God’s perfection, to impose our experience regarding beauty and happiness and to prevail over the miracle of our existence.

These are some of the ancient myths that preoccupy Pere de Ribot, just as they have worried, even tormented so many other artists before him.  Mark Rothko called them “the eternal symbols upon which we must fall back to express basic psychological ideas. They are the symbols of man's primitive fears and motivations, no matter in which land or what time, changing only in detail but never in substance... and modern psychology finds them persisting still in our dreams, our vernacular, and our art, for all the changes in the outward conditions of life, the myths that uphold us are capable of revealing something real and existing in ourselves”.

Myths are our allies as opposed to the fears that surface when we fathom that we might also control our future.  We tremble when faced with the menace of calamity, of total loss, and for those moments of desolation De Ribot paints a small sun, very intense, enveloped in a wine coloured atmosphere; a river flowing through a snow covered landscape.  These signs of optimism, life and liberty, happiness, beauty and perfection, are what beckon us to the canvas and encourage us to test the waters of the external future.

 

Xavier Mas de Xaxàs

(Translate: Lisette Ellis)