Consuelo Manrique has been addressing the topic of violence for over ten years. For this new exhibit, A Posteriori, she has created very subtle paintings and drawings. Torn threads, unfinished seams, sewn cloth open upon a fragile universe, as fragile as life itself, especially in times of violence such as those experienced by humanity since time immemorial.
But her work does not refer to violence in general; it refers to violence in the country and the time where she has been destined to live. Colombia’s history, since the mid twentieth century has suffered violence intensely. What began as a rampage in the countryside as a result of bipartisan struggles between Liberals and Conservatives has spread like a blood-soaked river, gushed by drug trafficking and corruption. Massacres and forced migrations are part of daily life. For those who live in the countryside, they are part of their terrible day-to-day circumstance; and for those of us who inhabit the cities, they are the distressing daily news that breaks into our lives through the media, leaving us distraught and unsettled. This terrifying and thunderous river has inspired many Colombian artists, writers and film makers to feel compelled to address this topic from diverse viewpoints.
Consuelo Manrique does so with her craft in visual arts, using characteristic media; painting, drawing, line and color. However, she does not limit her work to their pure use, but rather resorts to a kind of collage. Following the work of artist of the beginning of the Twentieth Century, which range between abstract and figurative expressions, Consuelo Manrique brings to her painting bits of reality, pieces of daily life impregnated with the brutal condition of our times, and she does so from her condition as a woman. With her canvasses she evokes other women immersed in the conflict. And so, the need arises to resort to laces, threads, embroidery and sewing so characteristic of womanly tasks and clothing, showing that her painting and therefore, her thoughts and work are contaminated by that overwhelming reality that seems never to cease.
These loose threads, those half-finished embroideries leave life in suspense, much like the suspense experienced by thousands of women in Colombian territory. The color red, far from evoking joy or warmth, becomes bizarre, bringing with it the presence of blood, of open bodies that we try not to imagine. Consuelo Manrique’s work speaks to us in whispers, piercing whispers, like needles that stab the canvas, or maybe even our skin.