A figurative painter, Monica Dixon has been moving for years on the threshold of abstraction, without crossing it. She began painting like Van Gogh, boots and shoes as a record of "what is happening in the world" - as Martin Heidegger thought that this should be the origin of the work of art - and then she moved from head to toe and made a painting that was more and more reflexive and intentional, less attached to reality.
Since then, his work has been divided into two major series, depending on the direction of the gaze. When he does so outdoors, in the landscapes, the impact on the wide open spaces, portrayed with elegant accuracy, inevitably leads to mention of his compatriot Edward Hopper and his poetics of solitude. It is pure convention, because it also reminds one of the landscapes of the Russian Aleksandr Deineka and those of Georgia O'Keeffe, Andrew Wyeth or of anyone who has painted the great American expanses, in their immeasurable immensity.
Born in New Jersey (USA) in 1971, and with a degree in Fine Arts from Rutgers University, Mónica Dixon Gutiérrez de Terán is American by birth and education on her father's side, but Asturian on her mother's. She lives in Oviedo and from Asturias she has developed most of her artistic career, starting with a first individual exhibition in the Casa de Cultura de Salas in 1994, while exhibiting in some collective exhibitions in Philadelphia, where she had completed studies at the Fleischer School of Art.
But his experience is that of infinity. As Juan Carlos Gea pointed out in the introduction to one of Mónica's exhibitions, her solitary houses, in the midst of the landscapes of rural North America, "seem to highlight what is precarious about human constructions under the enduring majesty of space and sky". The approach to the sublime always leaves the sensation that there is something more, a certain connection with the transcendental, and perhaps that is why in more recent works these architectures even appear floating in the air, as if swept away by an unexpected hurricane, in all their lightness and fragility.
Only in that sense could it be said that his painting is metaphysical, that is to say, that it goes beyond physics, something that he surely does not intend. It can be seen above all in his other gaze, the one that is directed towards the interior, which is not only of the houses. There too he has evolved: at first, Dixon showed a certain realistic concern for detail, for the doors, the shutters, the sideboards in the middle of the corridor, the stairwells, the empty rooms, the checkerboard floor, between white walls that no longer gave shelter to anyone and left a cold, desolate feeling.
The representation was faithful, only sometimes disturbed by a vorticist effect that maintains it in that same Anglo-Saxon tradition. But soon he began to make a more introspective painting and to devote more attention to the luminous effects, to that frontal light that disturbs the eyes through a window in the background, or to that solar ray that penetrates in a sideways way and bounces off the wall. As on so many occasions, the concrete leads to the abstract, and the material to the immaterial, and the representation gives way to something more ethereal and less apprehensible.


From her fixation on light comes the most recent interior work, begun in 2015, in which she has been stripping the pictorial space of all that she perceived as anecdotal, which in her own words distracted her from what she really wanted to show: the space itself, the essential solitude of the stage, the light that reveals it. A painting that speaks of both presence and absence, that makes natural and artificial light converse and fills in the gaps with the mere vibration of the atmosphere.
In this search, he joins the most famous artist of the Light and Space movement, the North American James Turrell, who with his pieces of projected light, especially the Shallow Space Constructions and his Wedgeworks, challenges the sensation of depth and generates the illusion of walls and barriers, or who in his Skyspaces lets the light from the sky penetrate so that the visitor engages in a conversation with the cosmos.
Of course, Monica Dixon does it through painting, in black and white and in a space as delimited as the painting itself. Without leaving the canvas she creates a similar illusion of depth, and playing with the lights and shadows, and the planes and perspectives, she forces the participation of the spectator in silent scenes that are developed in a room generally dark and closed, almost blind, with few possibilities for escape.
They are enigmatic scenes but not oppressive and that in addition they are painted with extreme neatness, which has been worth to him to obtain numerous prizes and recognitions, most recent the one of XLVIII the International Competition of Painting Villa de Fuente Alamo de Murcia 2020. Her individual exhibitions in recent years have taken her to places as far away as Sweden and Singapore.
With the acrylic Night light she won the Caja Rural de Asturias Foundation Award in the L National Art Contest of Luarca 2019, the reason for the current exhibition. The painting summarizes well this last stage of her trajectory, with a central motif that is only a backdrop of the room illuminated laterally, with a partition in the middle that cuts or divides the beam of light and generates a halo that moves towards the most absolute darkness, in an almost total decrease.
In other works the night light gives way to the cold light of the morning, or the succession of nooks and crannies allows a glimpse of a possible route that would allow us to get out of the labyrinth, in case we were locked in. These are small variations of the same thing in which from time to time some novelties are introduced, such as that geometric presence that could announce a symbolic drift, if that were the case.
Because Monica Dixon is a somewhat hermetic artist, who in her introversion only allows us to see a surface without cracks, in which the rest of us scratch without being sure that we are approaching what she wants. As a good American, she will tend more to pragmatism, or at most to a prudent and immanent transcendentalism, which connects the human soul to what exists in the world and which in the pictorial field could be translated into only two words: Just it.

Luis Feás Costilla


Text for 'At the treshold / towards light', the exhibition catalog in Borron Art Center - september/october 2020