Marcando el relámpago
Tina Fuentes has two large exhibitions on view in Lubbock- “Marcando el relámpago” at the Museum of Texas Tech University, and “Nubes tan negras”, on view at LHUCA through January 2018. Both bodies of work are a result of collaboration with scientist Dr. Eric Bruning, who studies the atmosphere, trying to determine if there is a link between the length and texture of clouds and the length of a lightning strike.
Nube stratocumulus negra VI
I spoke with Tina in her studio nearly 3 years ago, at the beginning of this project. She was animated as she talked about how Bruning was looking at the clouds, not just the air current or moisture, but using “art” words- color and texture- as part of his process. . Fuentes’s sources range from the plains of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. Through a range of mediums, metal, paint, video and performance, she has acted as creator, calling forth the heavens through her marks- marcando el relámpago.
Nube stratocumulus negra V
Some of these paintings, like “Nube stratocumulus negra V,” appear like they were pulled directly from the unseen periphery in Goya’s Pinturas negras (one being “The Fates.”)
Nube stratocumulus negra III
Others are seemingly innocuous, but when you look at them long enough, some long-buried instinct kicks in, telling you to run from the dark matter pooling at the bottoms of the fluffy, concealing mammary forms of cloud cover. In “El Movemiento”, Fuentes’s sweeping calligraphic strokes snake along the paper, ambling along until their next clash. This is the nature of this part of the world- the sky is expansive, our defining landscape trait, with drop-shadows from petite clouds peppering red dirt fields. Most of the time. Then there are those few days a year when you might see the sky before you see the news or hear the tornado sirens, and you thank God you bug bombed the storm cellar last month- that you have a storm cellar at all.
Sometimes it feels like it’s best to avoid the cliché when it comes to subject matter- clouds, skulls, butterflies, boobs, heaven and hell, bowls of fruit, etc. The trick isn’t coming up with new stuff to paint- it’s painting the old with new humor, or fervor, or technique. Fuentes’ paintings look like clouds, not as the accouterment of the sky, but the cradle for natural disaster, the tumultuous wrecking force that houses striking sinew of pure electricity.
1537 Santa Rosa 7-26-16
*The author's opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of the author.