Artist Statement

Caroline Attan’s artwork uses the poetry of Pablo Neruda as a starting point for the creation and exploration of the conflicting and contradictory emotions of desire, humour, anger, frustration and affection that his work inspires. Individual poems are written in both Spanish and English as often the Spanish is more evocative of the moods and sentiments being expressed. Neruda wrote about politics as well as intimate love poems, the words he uses are very personal but the sentiments are global. The Spanish phrases are often difficult to translate as they are culturally specific and are an expression of his Latin temperament and the cultural environment in which he lived and worked. These pictures express a personal fascination with the effect of culture on language and the development of language through culture as evidenced in the intimate poetry of Pablo Neruda. Neruda often uses contradiction to create humour and my work is a visual and tactile expression of that contradiction. In the poem ‘love is so short and forgetting is so long’, on the one hand he is devastated by the loss of his lover yet by the end of the poem he has already moved on. Again in ‘Fickle Man’ Neruda describes how he loves all women ‘I chase after them all.....’

‘my dark and blonde woman,
my lofty and small woman,
my robust and slender woman,
my ugly one, my beauty.......’

His poems celebrate both the love of women and the world which he inhabited and the two are often entwined ‘There are countries in your eyes, my homeland is in your eyes.... ‘your waist was formed by my arm like a river flowing for a thousand years over your sweet body, my beauty.’ He celebrates his lover through nature, how the individual parts of her body can hold the sensuous beauty of the earth. The compositions continually rotate as there is neither a beginning nor an end creating a sense of continuity and infinity. Hand written poems are taken from the poetry of Neruda are continually repeated and used to create a circular grid. Words and phrases in both Spanish and English are literally folded together to create bold yet intricate circular compositions that personalize the spontaneity and directness of his passion. Tantalizing snatches of memories and desire revolve endlessly over hand written poems. Intricate combinations of text and delicately folded colored paper evoke the content and interpretation. Colour is often used to create and explore the mood of a particular poem and therefore the pictures can be interpreted both through the subject of the poem and the abstract mood created by the form and pattern of the folded paper. The art work draws on a decade of research into the role of objects in the formation of memory, identity and personal history by combining text and image to create highly contemporary abstract forms that celebrate language in all its diversity.

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