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Mexican Painter Marcela Cadena’s Vibrant Vision

Inundando el Silencio, Paintings, 55 x 55
From the evidence of the work to be seen in her upcoming exhibition at Agora Gallery in Chelsea, Marcela Cadena, who has already exhibited extensively and who was also featured at Art Shanghai in China earlier this year, is among the best and brightest of the present generation of young Mexican artists.    
    Often working with a spatula, Cadena applies oil and acrylic pigments to canvas in bold, sometimes barely modulated areas of color. Favoring bright hues because, as she puts it with characteristic directness “Mexico is a colorful country,” she sees abstraction as a conduit for emotions that resist verbal translation. But one should not be deceived by the brilliance of her colors into thinking that all of the emotions in Cadena’s paintings are uniformly happy, since she also cites the deaths of loved ones as having influenced her work. Obviously, however, she does not abide by the cliché that only mournful colors can express loss, seeking instead to take the path of spiritual transcendence.    
    In some paintings, she tends to divide the composition into horizontal color areas, a pictorial strategy that recalls Rothko, particularly in some of her more spare paintings, such as “Entre Colores,” an oil on canvas consisting of a red rectangle at the top and a deep yellow one at the bottom, separated by a staggered black and white “horizon line.” However, as in the case of the older painter, even when organized along the lines of landscape, Cadena’s large canvases invariably appear more numinous than earthbound.
    Distinctly more “busy” than the previous work in painterly terms is an in oil and acrylic on canvas titled “Alma de Color.” Its central motif is an inner rectangle consisting of multiple rough horizontal strokes of frosty white impasto inflected with purple and set against a brilliantly “breathing” blue ground. While forming a solid border around the edges of the canvas, this blue hue, bolstered by a narrower strip of equally uninflected deep purple at the bottom of the canvas, is almost entirely dispersed by the white gestural strokes that dominate the center of the composition, showing through in patches here and there in the manner of pentimento. “Alma de Color” is a subtly sumptuous painterly tour de force.
    Similarly forceful in execution and impact is “El Hombre,” in which the pièce de resistance is the slightly asymmetrical linear outline of a roughly inscribed brown rectangle occupying the center of the composition like an almost empty picture frame.  Then there is “Entre Suenos,” where an uninflected yellow field at the top of the canvas is intersected by looser area of vertically streaked aqueous purple scored and scraped where the two colors meet in a manner  suggesting splashing surf.
    In other paintings as well, such as the majestic “Inundando el Silencio,” where luscious areas of red and anxious strokes of yellow bleed faintly as reflections on ice down onto a pure white ground, Marcela Cadena reveals her subtle mastery that makes one eager to keep up with her auspiciously promising career.                    –– Peter Wiley

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