CLAUDIA YAGNAM: A passion for abstraction

Intense and passionate, the Chilean artist Claudia Yagnam (Born: Ovalle, Chile 1962) seeks to channel all of her internal energy into an abstract artistic universe.  That flowing energy joins her intelligence in capturing and measuring, calculating and tracing a set of lines that have always accompanied her, onto the blank sheet of paper.

That is how, along with ink, paper, and printmaking tools, she searches for the silence of the studio so as to create. After some thorough alchemy she confronts the challenges of the printing press, a part of the process that is full of uncertainty and mystery. Her work is finally exposed, as are the reflections of her own life.

The graphic lines that identify her work give rise to an array of series: “Ritmo Biográfico” (Rhythmic Biorhythm), “El Mundo en Seis Metros” (The World in Six Meters), “Online” (Online), “Equilibrio” (Equilibrium), “De Par en Par” (Wide open) and “Tejido Vivo” (Live Fabric).

The origins can be found in her first piece based on her own EKG report. Within it she sees her biographical sequence, the line that marks her heartbeat and the seal that identifies her, giving meaning to the title: “Ritmo Biográfico” (Rhythmic Biorhythm).

The second series, a result of much travel, “El Mundo en Seis Metros” (The World in Six Meters), travels through an underground world of train tracks from different cities, using maps of them to intervene. Here she focuses on the vertical, horizontal and diagonal, playing with the lines of tracks by extending them or adding new routes. That is where her conceptual streak emerges manifesting a coherence within the contemporary art she creates.

“Online” (Online) delves into verticality and planes of subtle colors through its color, light and texture.

The next theme is reflected in eleven ‘unique’ prints, meaning they are irreproducible uneditable monoprints. The artist states “all human beings are one of a kind”, citing a personal choice that emphasizes this singularity. The series called “Equilibrio” (Equilibrium) reveals the purity of form and the search for harmony that manifests itself in the structure and composition of each one of the pieces. Here Ms. Yagnam states a clear desire: the balance of the different elements she includes in the creations.

“De Par en Par” (Wide Open) is another sequence that responds to a dual understanding of life felt after a strong earthquake in her native land. Here she uniformly sets the sizes and colors of the paper and ink; and the artistic seal.

In “Tejido Vivo” (Live Fabric) she focuses on the line, figurative geometry, and an austere color palette. Here a triptych is the basis of the proposal, as it builds on the number three. She lets herself flow through a sequence of waves, lines and circles, images with a simplicity that makes for a clear synthesis of graphic language. She decisively selects three mineral colors: silver, gold, and copper, which give a magical touch to the piece.
This is Claudia Yagnam’s tireless path, a woman who declares she is captivated by beauty. Her endless longing for perfection leads her to experiment with a goal of discovering the infinite possibilities this rigorous art of printmaking offers. The images flow freely from the plate and interact as forces relating to each other, they brush up side by side looking to create a dialogue through the weft and the movement, through the embossment and the texture.

There is meticulous handling in her work and a skillful obsession: dry point, intaglio, mixed media. She crafts a mechanism, from the handling of the paper, the drawing on the plate, the mixing of the ink, its color and application, the printing on the press. All this requires discipline, concentration, and trial and error. Sometimes those small “accidents” become the mark, the evidence. They become the proof of an interesting process of searching and simultaneously the proof of encounters.

Another médium Claudia Yagnam Works with is painting. Not any kind of painting, but gouache painting. This technique uses water and more organic pigments. It allows her to be freer, lending itself to intuition as a reflection of her intuition, all without ever lettign go of the abstract. The lines and geometric figures are also presento ver a subtle background of soft pastel colors, as if they held the patina of time.

The artist continues in the field of graphics in which she has developed many series: “Invierno” (Winter), “Horizonte” (Horizon), “Neón” (Neon), “Septiembre” (September), “Bodegones” (Still Lifes), “Metro de  París” (Paris Metro) and “En Línea” (Online).

Dervied from various inspirations, these are photographs captured and edited on a Smartphone with a built in camera. They are strictly subjected to a lineal world where light is of the essence.

“Invierno” (Winter) is a poetic reminiscence insinuating the passing of a season through a tree’s folliage in a unique focus that registers the oscilating movement of branches and leaves in the wind with a certain amount of volatility. This composition specifically showcases electrical cables, constructions or landscapes against the light. A delicate sunset acts as a background.

In “Horizonte” (Horizon) there is a conjunction of earth and sky along with the intervention of elements that suggest antennae, windmills and soft dunes. You can observe a certain element of speed upon capturing the image, as if they were short, quick moving brushstrokes. The minimal palette, the expression in the grain, the diagonals, the light in the sky, along with an intentional defocusing of the lens, give this series a certain nostalgia, as if it were a day coming to its end.

“Neón” (Neon) captures the vertiginous movement of fluorescent lights that give off a sense of strokes that are free and of spontaneous gestures, allowing for undulating forms. With a touch of shininess, a certain contrast can be made out against a dark background. Within this sequence the reflections of a building that shows an altered vision of reality are highlighted. The visible photographic emulsion and the texture makes it seem as if it were like watercolor or oriental calligraphy especially due to its being synthetic and mute in contrast to the vibrant colors of the previous abstract forms.

“Septiembre” (September) alludes to a calm ocean seen through a window. The soft waves in black and white, sepia, and vivid colors, give the same original image a different manner. The blurring, the texture, the neatness, the intervention of lines, the strokes that divide the space and vertically demarcate it give the composition and its variants rhythm from a colorful spectacle to a peaceful nocturnal view.

In “Bodegones” (Still Lifes) you can make out an image as if you were looking through a keyhole. As if you were narrating an everyday story as it changes its points of view. Here the perspective acquires relevance in a peculiar play of light and shadow charged with a certain amount of mystery. Suddenly a central figure appears in a bright blue, maybe an amphora with an intriguing segmentation due to its own ambiguity and form, which far from being obvious allows the voyeur to become a part of it.

The first image from  “Metro de Paris” (Metro from Paris) captures a special moment of persons immersed in their own world. Its background is no less than a huge black and white photo. There, life and movement appear in metallic and contrasting colors as proof of the hustle bustle and passing of time. Thick lines move towards different vanishing points that draw ones attention and disappear in the background. Anonymous people circulate in the tidy Paris metro that seems to turn into a universal place of transit recording a fleeting frozen moment.

“En linea” (Online) is pure abstraction: Streaks of light that cut through backgrounds enriching the observer’s vision. The unfocused quality highlights a certain optical intention of blurring the eyes giving way to a matte atmosphere with soft touches of grey, and simultaneously projects shadows. An undefined intense foreshortened red object makes the composition warm and dynamic.

Each step taken has a purpose: that the viewer can open up their mind in a manner free of judgment, discourse or preconceived ideas. The challenge? To face the vast array of possibilities which allow one to observe, to ask oneself questions and to discover the horizon beyond that of their immediate reality. This is the invitation the artist proposes for those who would like to share the desires and dreams that surround them, those that reveal an inner world full of life in constant expansion.


By Bárbara Becker: Degree in History and Aesthetics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.



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