Since 1978, all works produced by Beatriz Zamora (Mexico City, 1935) bear the same title: El Negro [Black]. Dated and numbered consecutively, they add up to nearly 3,500 pieces to date. Zamora speaks of “arriving to” black, a color that has marked her production over the last four decades after exploring the use of soils on canvas in a piece she titled La Tierra [Earth], which at the time she related to ecological degradation. In her words, it isn’t a choice, but a matter of looking at a problem and devoting herself to a search. Throughout the years, her encounter with black—with the material density that moves away from traditional painting techniques—has led her to producing a series of monochromatic—or, better yet, achromatic—works of different intensities, temperatures and personalities.
The arrival to black, not as a formula nor as an end but as a constant question, an excessively persistent, valiant search that reiterates a position that starts from art and from life. About Zamora, Jorge Alberto Manrique wrote: “She belongs to the class of artists for whom the work of art is not valid in itself, but solely as a means of reaching something much broader that lies on the other side of the work and is only accessible through it.” Zamora emphasizes how the black darkness of outer space—immensity— is predominant in the universe. Beatriz Zamora’s El Negro goes beyond all cultural connotations associated with this color and transcends the horizon. That which lies on the other side of the work—or even beyond it, I would say—is a “great beyond” of sorts of the horizon, a “non-horizon” with regards to earthly landscape and also with regards to painting and representation.
But that black—those multiple blacks—is also a way of confronting what we can’t understand or frequently even enunciate. Solely resorting to black pigments and minerals sets the limitations of the range of materials she uses. She doesn’t paint, exactly; she battles gesturally with her body, working on the floor and over the piece, with a bird’s-eye view, slowly building surfaces of different densities with her hands. She uses materials sourced from nature—charcoal, coal, lampblack, graphite, silicon chloride. Each of these materials and their combinations refracts light and hence does not represent light formally, as painting would. The non-figurativism and scale of her works echoes American abstract expressionism, more specifically the Color Field painting (where “color is freed from the objective context and becomes the subject in itself”) that she was in contact with during a long sojourn in New York City in the eighties.
Placing these pieces in the Sala Mont in the Museo Experimental el Eco—a space with sharp angles and the entrance of natural light—contrasts with the notion of the white cube as a neutral space for artwork. Instead, Zamora seeks dialogue with the lights and shadows produced by Mathias Goertiz’s architecture, which incites meditation. A selection of pieces is gathered here that ranges from her first experiments in the late seventies to her more recent work produced in the last decade. Even when they belong to different moments, the works are experienced in the present. They are therefore achromatic and atemporal. Zamora’s is a search enhanced by each spectator, by the bodies that let themselves be touched by her works, and by everything that may also be reflected on them by the context in which they are shown: connotations, reflections, relationships, images, fantasies. In this sense they are generous, just as the emotional architecture they are in dialogue with today.