Déborah Pruden / Textos de catálogo / “Fondo Blanco” por Fabián Burgos, Galería Zavaleta Lab, Buenos Aires, mayo 2006

"Beat on, beat on, thou noble ship, and bear a hardy helm; for lo! The sun is breaking through; the clouds are rolling off- serenest azure is at hand.”
“Moby Dick”

“But it is mere idleness to say that these works had not lived before, that the soul has not previous existence”
“Berenice”. Poe.


With the elegance and serenity that her talent gives her, Deborah Pruden goes in these paintings from the driest and most immediate movement to the most complex composition. This is how she manages to express so radically the contrasts that define her work.

I am referring, on the one hand, to the simplicity and economy of these paintings which results from the author’s search for the essential, that is to say, for her identity. “No one can feel his identity in full unless he has his eyes closed,” said Paul Klee, in what seems almost like a premise for this painter who, in her abstraction, leads us into an introspective vision. And, on the other hand, that complexity becomes visible but not evident, those small tricks that these paintings play on us so that our learning is intense, though never total. After all, in art certainties are a contradiction in terms.

Let’s look at the paintings. The white backgrounds are not really that at all. They are, instead, the white parts of the whole composition. There are no forms on background; each white occupies its own space and is painted with absolute autonomy, like any stain, so all the space that we believe to be empty is full and what appears behind (that apparent white background) is on the same plane as the rest of the forms. Within the framework of historical abstraction, this means that these paintings are closer to a de Kooning than to a Pollock, where the dripping does, in fact, rest on a pre-existing background. And if I mention these two artists it is because Deborah shares with them the same concern with the “concept of the depth of the plane.” Similarly, she shares with the traditional avant-gardes the use of elements of composition in a structure.
Those who have seen her earlier show will recall the use and the centrality of curves. Today, in a striking exercise in change and transformation, she has shifted that value to the straight line and its powerful drive towards synthesis, though denying its natural function of constructing space. “Structuring lines that do not hold up anything,” says the painter. The result is fragmented forms and figures that somehow maintain solidity and volume while floating in the painting space.

I once asked her “How do you know that you have finished a painting?” Self-confident and bold, she responded, “I don’t care about knowing that. I do not follow a line from the beginning to the end. I am more interested in knowing how they react in and of themselves and to each other, or even from one show to the next.” I was dumbfounded by her assuredness, but it is true that art is concerned with the world of differences and what is not visible. The same holds true of her palette. When we get comfortable with her colors, she begins to bother us with accidents that elude what is “correct.” This is also how her paintings react to genres and styles (landscapes, portraits, still lives, Cubism, Abstraction) as well as to certain painters (Braque, Matisse, Rousseau, Petorutti). But none of this makes it into an act rebellion; nothing could be further from her intention. Indeed, all of this discomfort does not come to us from the place of reason; it comes, instead, from somewhere less material, perhaps from somewhere less graspable where things are but can never be seized since they are banned for this side of the world.

The root of the paradox in these paintings- mainly, that the invisible becomes proof- lies in the fact that the accidental tends to become the essential, and truth can be found among the shadows.

Fabián Burgos
Buenos Aires, March 2, 2006