In Praise of Light and Shadow

Mónica Dixon exhibits her interiors at As Quintas de La Caridad
Luis Feás Costilla - Art critic - La Nueva España - 2022 October

Outside the main centers such as Gijón and Avilés, there are a number of towns in Asturias that have municipal centers with good exhibition halls and a stable program, available to locals and amateurs. These are, for example, Piedras Blancas and its Valey Cultural Center of Castrillón, Candas and its Sculpture Center Museum Anton, Mieres and its dazzling PZSB, both recovered for the citizenship, Villaviciosa and its recently restored Ateneo, Pola de Siero and the splendid hall of its Municipal Foundation of Culture, head of a network of Houses of Culture that, although smaller, are no less deserving, such as those of Grao or Cangas de Onis. Missing from this list is Oviedo, whose City Hall has been unable to reestablish in the last three terms of office a place where to hold exhibitions on a continuous basis, something unworthy of a city that is, after all, the capital of Asturias.
Among these localities, La Caridad stands out, not so much for the hall located in the Town Hall, which from time to time also programs good exhibitions, as for the As Quintas Cultural Complex, which, although it has municipal support, is basically sustained by its Association of Friends and numerous collaborators, with the advice of the sculptor Herminio. There are so many and so attractive artistic activities developed there that it is almost obligatory to review them in these pages and yet it is not strange, given its frequency, that some of them are left out, as happened with the young Javier Ortega. Or with David Magán, who, with his immaterial architectures, his objects of light and his dual figures, this summer made a complete praise of the shadow, in a space that, for the finish of its walls, its wooden ceiling, its lighting and air conditioning system, is a model to follow in terms of adaptation of an old house to the cultural needs of a living community that wants to progress and feel modern. The artist now exhibiting, the well-known painter Monica Dixon (Marlton, New Jersey, USA, 1971), has a lot to do with Magan and Herminio himself. She plays only with the shades of three colors, white, black and red, and also praises light and shadow, which is not strange in a cultural complex that has a well-defined line of programming. To tell the truth, the painter, who lives in Oviedo, works basically in two different series, the one shown here and another one dedicated to the wide open spaces landscapes, with solitary houses of disturbing architecture located in the middle of the plains of a rural North America more evoked and imaginary than real, which she has just exhibited for example in a solo show at the Galerie Artima in Paris, under the title "Backyards". They are places that only exist in her spirit, in a manifestation of the nostalgia she sometimes feels for the land where she was born.
On the other hand, there are his interiors, those "detained spaces" (this is how he titled his last exhibition at the Guillermina Caicoya Gallery in Oviedo) that he elaborates through models and in which the fundamental thing is the effect of light, that clarity that enters laterally and is reflected on the walls, stripped of everything unnecessary, in an increasingly abstract concretion that has earned him numerous awards and recognitions, the most recent in the National Painting Contest "Virgen de las Viñas" of Tomelloso, in Ciudad Real. What he wants to show is the space itself and the light that reveals it, to convey the essential loneliness of the scene and its estrangement, in a painting that speaks of both presences and absences, in this case expressed in seventeen recent paintings. To this end, he creates a dialogue between natural and artificial lighting, playing with planes and perspectives, in almost total darkness, in black and white, but with all the gradations of gray, on a background of a tangentially illuminated room, with one or more partitions in between that segment the beam of light and generate a halo that gradually degrades until it disappears in the blackness, applied to acrylic so neatly that it verges on perfection. Only on certain occasions is a different element introduced, such as a deep red wall or a geometric figure in that color, of purely formal value. As Alfonso de la Torre writes in the catalog, "Dixon paints the space with precision and names the shadows, extends places where a silent interiority vibrates [that] seems to be populated by a lunar void, dark landscapes, representing scenes that seem to be shown in dissymmetry, one over the next, the latter over the previous ones, as in a process of continuous unveiling".

To live in the strange
Mónica Dixon
As Quintas Cultural Complex, 1 Quintas Street, La Caridad. Until October 22nd