Born in Uruguay.
Member of American Watercolor Society
The unadulterated pure geometric abstractions in the form of luminous watercolors produced by Maria Concepcion Garcia have within them the pictorial authority derived from an understanding of the Platonic essences about the nature of the world. While Garcia, as Piet Mondrian (and later artists such as Burgoyne Diller and even Peter Halley)relates her horizontals and verticals to a type of metaphysical exaltation, her works are hardly dogmatic in any true sense. They are much to filled with a type of gentle whimsy and references to the outside world which permeates and punctures her precise geometries.
One could in way see Garcia as an unwilling participant in the geometric tradition even while participating fully in its metaphysical intentions. That being said, the core, the strength, of the artists works remains clear: it is derived from a her precise transformations of and from a perception of essentially geometric terms and a transformation of this plastic language. This transformation accommodates a new context which allows for slight representational nexus to intercept the formal language of pure formalism. Now changed, the subject of her work, horizontals and verticals and angles along with carefully nuanced color schemas and straight lines unveils a remarkable array of ideational and "un-pure" content. Garcias non-purity, her hybrid facility to shape-shift the given parameters of a highly formalized plastic language entices and enchants the spectator. Figure -ground riddles, for example, in Crystal Crimson, 1979, remain both resolved and muted through the artists parapet and cantilever notations taken from architecture. The vertiginous readings of scale and height punctuated by semi-transparent "screens" (used to great effect in such works as Crystal Linden 1978, Crystal Violet 1978, and Fall, 1980) is used to great effect as a veil which both reveals and conceals the structure of her scaffolded planes.
The faceted aspect of the artists works, with their thematic references to crystalline structures are deeply symbolic. Their transparent aspects refer to a marriage of opposites --- a materiality suffused with immateriality. The substance of the crystal has not surprisingly been associated in many cultures with clairvoyance, wisdom and flight. Knowing this it is interesting to relate that the artist in the use of her medium itself, watercolor (a liquid matter signifying transience ) has transformed this substance through her art to portray connotations of hardness and materiality. Similarly, the artists skill in applying her color schemas is also evidence of Garcias thoughtful meditations on allowing an easy alliance of juxtapositions to co-exist in her work. The strong blues in Crystal Linden ,the hard blue-blacks in Satyr and Menad, in Crystal Crimson and in Twosome offer a strong earthy counterpoint to the gossamer ephemerality of the surrounding colors which seem to embody ethereality.
What is also captivating are the liminal visual areas of concern in Garcias pictorial structures, those plastic denotations where visual structure achieves a syncopated quality through linear striations seen as delicately striped areas. Denseness and immateriality is conjoined with a sprite-like jauntiness which leavens the entire work and allows it to be seen as limber and joyous. The striped sections in works such as Crystal Violet and Carolangels reach their apotheosis in Central Park, 1979. In this majestic abstracted urbanscape the primary structure is enfolded within a repoussoir diagonals to the right and left of the foreground pictorial plane which serve to draw the eye inward. Two pyramidal forms emerge in mid-ground as four references to building can be seen directly behind them. as the eye travels further into deep space into the far background in this stage - like procession of horizontals and verticals. At the bottom register of the work small staccato horizontal lines create an overall feeling of uneasy repose.
It is of course quite difficult to ignore the connotations of urban living in Garcias oeuvre. They are fully and convincingly applied even in the most abstracted of her works such as in Colorcry, 1976, in which an origami sense of unfolding of prism-like space attains a very direct yet complex drama of interlocked yet loosening planes. Her transparent membranes and their careful proportions are used again to great effect and delicacy in 1984s Rosebud. This work, with its clear reference both in color and in structure to the imbricated petals of that flower contains both a complex unity and a holistic quality which has an oblique relationship to signage or emblematization. This work, as does most of Maria Concepcion Garcias watercolors attains subtle but acute nuances of perception to nature: a horizon line in the urbanscape Central Park, a curling plant around a tree in Twosome (1977), fluttering wings in Carolangels. (1985), the descent of leaves in Fall (1980).
Maria C. Garcias artistic vision is of a singularly high order. She achieves her prismatic intentions to refer both to an inner world of vitality and transcendence by making seemingly incongruous correspondences with seen and felt presences in the waking world: trees, buildings, flowers, In this respect one might be tempted to state that Garcia is in the enviable position as an artist of having the talent to refer to the beauty of arbitrariness and of chance encounters with resemblances.
This remarkable artist handles many factors simultaneously in her work: tactility, opacity of color, transparency of color, scale, coolness, density, warmth and balances all of these with consummate skill and precision. All of these modalities are used in the service of playing back and forth between the arbitrary play (seemingly) of her correspondences between pure form and verisimilitude and likenesses and the strictness of the conditions of making pictures. And make pictures she surely does: rapturously controlled, beguiling images that brings us into reverie, a consciousness of well-being. It is through that state of reverie Maria Concepcion Garcia allows a full "aesthetic reconciliation" to emerge in her art. It is that quality which the philosopher John Dewey terms" [a period] of harmonious cooperation of man and the world in experiences that are complete." It is hardly any wonder that Garcias visual efforts move us so deeply: Her watercolors are a perfect manifestations of the personal and the supra-personal joined together for our quiet admiration and perpetual wonder.
D.F. Colman is an art historian and curator residing in Manhattan.