Goodbye to painting (1989-1996)
The surgery –or rather the period of inactivity followed up by reflection- marks a fundamental turning point in her artistic career. Pilar falls into a crisis and starts to look for a new language. During a few months of transition, she forgets about expressionism and pictorial violence in order to produce a quieter work. She works simultaneously on the canvases of her last pictorial stage- in which old photographs turn into paintings- and on the first works of her conceptual stage- where creations are made up of assemblages of photos and symbolic objects, and hence painting disappears.
One of those transitional works participates in a curious experiment in Betanzos: “Balconadas”, an urban exhibition where canvases without stretcher bars hang from the balconies of the main streets of this Galician town.
She moves to a new studio, together with Marisa Moral and Trinidad Irisarri, in calle Pedro Heredia, an industrial space more suitable for artistic creation, especially for setting up the workshop she needs in order to work with all kinds of materials and build her ‘handcrafted’ works of the conceptual stage. This decision matches with the new energy to return to her career after the surgery and is part of a process of professional awareness (of the three women, women returning to work after sacrificing some time to start their families). As she would say, with her already ‘grown’ children, she could have a greater dedication to art, although she always regretted it was not full-time, something she considered necessary to be seen as the true professional she felt she was.
Throughout all the process of approaching conceptual art, it has a huge influence the attendance that year to the Talleres de Arte Actual [Contemporary Art Workshops] of the Círculo de Bellas Artes led by Isidoro Valcárcel, and in 1992 by Ian Wallace, as well as the friendship and conversations she had with the former, who was the champion of conceptualism in Spain.
Her artistic production takes a new path that will find a fast recognition from the art world, not only among her former supporters- such as Álvarez Enjuto- but also amongst gallery owners and art critics. Proof of this instant success is the Ciudad de Alcalá award, given by the city’s fundación Colegio del Rey. One year later, she is appointed member of the jury. And three years later, in March of 1993, as part of her award, she prepares the first solo exhibition of works from this new stage, at Alcalá’s Capilla del Oídor. The exhibition shows about thirty works very new and of great consistency, produced diligently and with a high motivation for those two years. The award represents a real encouragement, and she also feels like she has found the right means of expression, the one she is more comfortable with. The exhibition surprises everyone and turns out to be spectacular.
She takes part in her first exhibition after the surgery, a group exhibition paying tribute to New York city at the Centro Cultural Washington Irving of the American embassy in Madrid. There, she presents a work of a similar style to the one awarded in Alcalá: “La Criba”.
She, and twenty seven other artists, are selected to appear at that year’s edition of the Catálogo Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo Ibérico 2000 [National Catalogue of Iberian Contemporary Art 2000]. Four of the first works of the new conceptual stage are reproduced there, three boxes and a montage. Another work is acquired at the IX Premio de Pintura y Escultura “Daniel Vázquez Díaz” [9th Daniel Vázquez Díaz Painting and Sculpture Award] (Huelva).
She continues her conceptual art training in the visual and sound space creation course at the Monasterio de Poio [Poio Monastery] (Pontevedra), under the direction of José Iges and Concha Jérez, who will be, together with Isidoro Valcárcel, her mentors in this new stage of her artistic career.
During those years after the award, she stays focused on the preparation of the exhibition in Alcalá, and she tends not to appear in public, with the exception of a group exhibition at A. Isorna gallery in 1992.
She is dedicated, along with her sisters, to look after her mother, who suffers from a painful disease. She would pass away at the end of that year.
She participates in ’40 + ó-, twelve Spanish artists’ a collective exhibition opened in November at the Cuartel del Conde Duque curated by Álvarez Enjuto. Among those twelve artists taking part in the exhibition, we can find the names of Teresa Pajares, Alberto Reguera and Juan Ugalde. Pilar offers some of her last works of the phase that started with the Ciudad de Alcalá award: boxes and games essentially.
With the series called “Pajaritas”, she begins to work with prints of digital photos instead of the original ones. This will allow her, from that moment on, to produce more conceptual works- such as the games- and most of all to develop series from the same photo.
She starts to illustrate with some of her works the covers of several books published by her husband Fernando. Apart from the pleasure it meant for both sharing their creative and intellectual activity, after so many years living together, Fernando finds some meanings in Pilar’s works of her new artistic stage, which are linked to his reflections on the social impact of new technologies in his published work. The first collaboration is entitled “El hombre y la técnica” [Man and technology] where a photo from “Fragmentos” appears. Later on, they repeat together with “Inforpistas inteligentes” (1996), whose cover is “El peso de las ideas nº 1” [The weight of the ideas no. 1]. And an image of “Metamorfosis nº2” [Metamorphosis n.2] a prelude to “Desafíos sociotecnológicos del siglo XXI”[Socio-Technological Challenges] (1999). Pilar designed specifically the cover of “Meditacion de la infotecnología” [Info-Technology’s meditation] (2000). Another work – “Masculino-femenino” [Masculine- feminine] had been used as cover of the ‘Informática y automática’ magazine, directed by her husband in 1992.
In December, she holds the second solo exhibition of the conceptual stage, at the Sala Minerva of the Círculo de Bellas Artes. She shows works that represent a step forward compared to the ones presented at the Capilla del Oidor. Boxs are being replaced by games, such as the ones of the series “Reciclaje para la paz” [Recycling for Peace] (a metaphor of war, true leitmotiv of the exhibition), and by montages.
Her work is selected, with very good reviews, in the twelfth edition of the L’Oreal Painting Awards. She will repeat the following year, in the thirteenth edition.