Following a painter
Elena Prentice. Tanger 2016.
I walked into a gallery, the Lawrence Arnott, in Tangier about ten years ago. It was a place I would visit from time to time when wandering around town. It was one of the few galleries in Tangier at that time.
As I was leaving I looked into their office to say good bye and noticed two small pictures existing on several layers, very colorful and energetic constructions. I remarked the name of a Spanish woman and as I was in a hurry I moved on. The little powerful reliefs stayed with me.
At an exhibition at the Instituto Cervantes in 2011, again in Tangier, into which I wandered again without paying much attention to who was exhibiting, I instantly recognized the work that I had seen several years before.
My awareness of the artist took form. Carla Querejeta Roca, who I realized upon meeting, was the grand daughter of an acquaintance who lived in Tangier with strong Tangier roots.
Carla moved to Tangier for several years to understand this root, I imagine, wanting to stay longer than a summer vacation and deepen her understanding.
Did this connection to Tangier and the complexities of it's cultures influence her work?
The bright colors, the density of the medina, which is full of hidden and surprising spaces, has perhaps added to her work and the questioning of space which one perceives.
In that show there were very distinct Moroccan elements. A series of drawn portraits of Moroccans comes to mind, as well as red and white stripes in some pictures, which is typical of the cloth worn by the country woman of the north.
The next show that I saw was at the exhibition space, La Galerie Mohamed Drissi, of the Moroccan ministry of culture in 2013.
I was stunned by the volume of work in such a short time.
The work had evolved and become stronger and more abstract, still evocative of Tangier but more subtle.
Her style was clear and her questioning of the surface provocative.
She is not a sculptor but a painter, in the tradition of Frank Stella, inviting and pushing the surface to make the viewer look more intensely and join in a visual journey.
I recently saw her work in Paris where she has moved, and felt again her all seeing and absorption of the world around her.
Her energy and personal vision is evolving and continues to grow .She knows where she is going and how to get there.