Carmen Selma: caste and race
In ancestral Spain, painted by Velazquez, Goya and Picasso and described by Cervantes, Perez Galdos or Garcia Lorca, was said of a bull ,defending its life in the sand with nobility and courage, who had caste; and was said of a courageous woman, able to carry out her projects and guide her life despite difficulties, who had race. Both terms, race and caste, come to define the paintings of Carmen Selma.
Carmen Selma, despite her shyness, her polite manners and tenderness, is a passionate woman who paints with heart. Carmen has a vital and artistic project that defends against all odds. Her work is, therefore, the result of the will and strength of its author that gives it a creative impetus and overflows the canons of decorative painting to convey strength and passion.
The theme of the exhibition the viewer has the opportunity to contemplate refers to the past Spain, its traditions and rituals, still in place in many towns and cities. Therefore, it can give the impression of an ethnographic witness or certain quaintness. Make no mistake; the look of Carmen Selma on Spanish cultural and religious traditions is a curious and critical look at a time. In artist’s words: “tries to understand the past in order to build up its present and future on a solid foundation”. There is thus in her eyes a mixture of both, tenderness and understanding but also distaste for aspects such as women marginalization, brutality or submission that the viewer will not pass unnoticed here, facing a documentary, esthetic and critical experience at a time.
In Carmen Selma work, some will see figurative art as an option, oil as a technique and canvas as a support. Certain classicism belies its clear photographic focus with original perspectives that, in many cases, emphasize adherence or rejection forcing the viewer to take sides. Hence, the classic formation and freedom of spirit come together to create a highly original work that provokes an esthetic emotion and a critical reflection at a time. Both experiences together led to perceive the artistic discourse of Carmen Selma as one of the most original produced nowadays in our country. It demonstrates, once again, the size of a country is measured not only by its geographical extent, population, political influence or gross domestic product, but for the quality and originality of its artists on its emotional speech and what are they able to transmit.
Enjoy Carmen Selma’s work; it throws us a clear perspective on past and present Spain, it provides characters to our minds that make us able to understand sweetness, courage, fear, submission or rebellion… a little of all that there is in those who participate in the rituals and traditions that Carmen shares with us.
Prof. Dr. Miguel de la Guardia
Universidad de Valencia