Dominica Sánchez - text

The aura delineated

Josep Casamartina


To have scant means at one’s disposal and produce a finished work is a virtue. That is why some prefer chamber music, or even a solo instrument, to a large symphonic. Bach composed extraordinary pieces using very little, as he was a past master at extracting endless formal richness. His famous Goldberg Variations are the best known example, but there are others-his scores for violin, sonatas for cello, Inventions, and kaleidoscopic preludes and fugues in The Well-Tempered Clavier. On a smaller scale, and with fewer elements still, the great Satie devised his marvelous Gymnopédies, while Stravinsky wrote Les Cinq Doigts purely as a divertiment for beginners, and Bartók waxed expansive in his delightful Mikrokosmos.

With its implicity tight diction, without recourse to affectation, drawing often supersedes the grandiloquence attained by painting. It does not hide behind itself, for everything is in full view from the outset. It parades naked under the sun, just as a soloist cannot be confounded with the rest of the orchestra when the latter has fallen silent, or is simply not there. Drawing is equidistant between painting and sculpture and is comparable with both. Painters and sculptors indulge in it equally, as it is plumb in the middle. However, a simple rough drawing or sketch-often comparatively important and peculiarly interesting for its documentary or purely reference value-should be distinguished from a full-blown finished work on paper, conceived of as such.

Dominica Sánchez was born in Barcelona in 1945 but, apart from an exclusive core of local stalwarts, she became better known in Paris, where she has exhibited regularly, rather than in the city where she has lived and worked. She has been drawing for many years and has mastered the technique which has led her to sculpture. On monochrome, usually large-format paper, using opaque black charcoal and bright oxides, her circumferences, tangents and broken lines, squares and triangles-which intersect and flow fluidly, so that nothing appears fake or stilted-are markedly natural. She herself claims they could well be the result of the precise, controlled gestures of household chores which, when all is said and done, are neither male nor female-cleaning a window, laying a table, sprinkling rice into a pan… Gestures which she transforms into strange, distorted, gigantic notes on a cryptic, contrived stave, with rare G of F clefs, quavers and semiquavers, as if the stylized rhythmic gym of Jaques Dalcroze and Joan Llongueras were a ballet of the commonplace which in then transcends, as in a Bauhaus choreography of dishes and saucepans.

As for sculpture, Dominica Sánchez prefers cardboard and bent iron to weighty, bloated and definitive sculpture cast in bronze, which tends to engorge the subtle delicacy of frail things. Her three-dimensional forms also report from an everyday world, as when folding or cutting a piece of cloth or making a dress pattern. A dress could be a sculpture, and a sculpture a dress-members of the Bauhaus were well aware of that.