I made these paintings in Buenos Aires during September/October 2015 following some big shifts in my life. I’ve been painting for almost five years now and I’ve reached a point where I know I must express myself in paint without compromise. No. Matter. What. This summer, the ‘Blind Spots’ Jackson Pollock exhibition at Tate Liverpool and some paintings by Willem de Kooning released something in me and set me free; first I made 27 (one a night before sleep, over a month) expressionist drawings and realised I can find the courage to allow what wants to come up in paint to come, and not be concerned about what the world thinks of it. This group of paintings is the first to emerge from that place. Thank you for looking at them. SAL
* for readers of the English version, please see below for the Spanish you might need to know
My words about the works in English:
The darker side
I dance tango because it has the capacity to wash my Soul clean. I came to Buenos Aires to dance and the milonga has been one of my spiritual homes for almost ten years, especially La Nacional and ‘los lunes de Lucy y Dany’, El Maipú. Tango helps me breathe. It changed my life, and I love its milongueros, each and every one of them.
But there is a darker side. I am sensitive, and the milonga reflects my vulnerability. I want to believe you will always feel the magic in our tandas, as I do, and that we will be dancing till the end of time. ‘Mi bailarina (My dancer),’ you say. ‘Me tranquilizás (You calm me),’ you say. I feel powerful and adored. ‘Mientras hay vida (While there’s life),’ you say. But it isn’t always that way, is it?
The day can come when you, for reasons I may guess but will never truly know, move on to a new favourite, and I am left alone on the long bus ride home, my heart breaking that we don’t dance any more. You don’t look at me, and I can’t bear the shame of my mirada unrequited. Then, you have the power, and I am compelled to paint how it feels.
These five paintings were all born in La Nacional, Buenos Aires, where I love to dance several times a week. The paintings are on show in La Nacional from 14th October 2015, with thanks to Atilio Veron, manager of La Nacional, for inviting me. Thank you also to Dany of El Maipú de Lucy y Dany whose photographs of the milonga helped me shape some of these paintings.
* the spanish you might need to know:
milonga: a social tango dance event
los lunes: Mondays
tanda: a set of (usually four) tangos that are danced with the same person
mirada: the look the woman gives the man (often from a distance, like across the room) when she wants to dance the next set of tangos with him; if eye contact is made and he invites with a nod or tilt of the head or other similar movement, then she can accept him, but if he doesn’t make eye contact then he’s saying ‘No’ (at least for now) and there’s nothing she can do about it; of course, if she doesn’t look at him when he wants to dance with her, then he suffers a similar fate; in Buenos Aires traditional milongas, the woman cannot actually make the invitation, she has to wait for the man to do it.
Mis palabras sobre las obras en castellano:
El lado más oscuro
Bailo tango porque tiene la capacidad de limpiar mi Alma. Viajé a Buenos Aires para bailar, y la milonga ha sido uno de mis casas espirituales por casi diez años, especialmente La Nacional y los lunes de Dany y Lucy, El Maipú. El tango me ayuda respirar. Cambió mi vida, y amo a sus milongueros, todos y cada uno de ellos.
Pero hay un lado más oscuro. Soy sensible, y la milonga refleja mi vulnerabilidad. Quiero creer que siempre te sentirás la magia en nuestras tandas, como yo la siento, y que bailaremos hasta el fin del tiempo. ‘Mi bailarina,’ me decís. ‘Me tranquilizás,’ me decís. Me siento poderosa y adorada. ‘Mientras hay vida,’ me decís. Pero no siempre es así, no?
El dia puede llegar cuando, por razones que puedo adivinar pero nunca verdaderamente sabré, seguís con otra favorita, y yo me encuentro sola en el viaje largo a casa en el colectivo, mi corazón se rompe porque no bailamos más. No me mirás, y no puedo soportar la vergüenza de mi mirada no correspondida. Ya, vos tenés el poder, y me encuentro obligada a pintar como me hace sentir.
Todas esas cinco pinturas nacieron en La Nacional, Buenos Aires.
My dancer (Acrylic on canvas, 70x50cm)
You calm me (Acrylic on canvas, 50x50cm)
Mientras hay vida
While there’s life (Acrylic on canvas, 50x60cm)
Ahora no me conocés?
Now you don’t know me? (Acrylic on canvas, 90x60cm)
En el colectivo
On the bus (Acrylic on canvas, 50x60cm)
I’ll be super-happy if you share my work. Please use short quotes from the piece if you like and do share the images, but always always link back here.
Photographed with an iPhone the colours can be compromised and small amounts of cropping can occur. The real paintings speak more clearly.
For any other use, please ask me first.
Share art, share <3.
© Sally Townsend Blake 2015