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The Moving Sketch

This month, Colombia is our guest of honor. In this issue of Contrahilo, Carolina Naranjo, photographer and communication designer, will use the language of images to reveal the manifesto latent in the work of Maria Paula Barón, textile designer. The accompanying text was written in Chile by Karina Vukovic, architect, cultural advisor and professor of textile and clothing design at the UDP Design School.

The Moving Sketch

Since ancient times, textiles have been one of the backbones to painting—and painting one of the first languages of subjects speaking about their social and cultural context, and their inner world, through aesthetic codes. This primordial act implies an important human gesture because, through strokes, shapes and colors, it has enabled the construction of images that “give rise to the world”. Without any doubt, Maria Paula Barón uses her art to pay homage to the rapport between that which supports (the fabric) and that which is supported (the painting). In her work, “the exploration of visual expression”—as she herself describes it—takes place through outlines and illustrations portrayed over the human body, which then transforms into a life-size, moving sketch.

The first defining act in her work was her encounter with the textile surface when still in her years as a bachelor student. The encounter came about through experimentation; a practical exercise where the fortuitous became the pivotal. The ‘sublime and endless intersection’ between the designer and textiles was the result of fabrics enabling her to “tell stories, through their status as intermediaries, between art and the everyday”. The second significant milestone was the decontextualizing process that ensued when she graduated as a designer from Los Andes University in Colombia and moved to Glasgow to complete a Masters in Design, Fashion and Textiles, Design and Applied Arts at The Glasgow School of Art. Her experience there was critical, at the internal and external level, because it implied a strong incorporation of self-management, collaboration and, above all, plastic experimentation. Out of the three, it was the latter that underwent the most considerable growth as a result of the cultural environment she was submersed in. This led to fierce questioning regarding ways things where done—about technique used as language—where analogue prevailed over digital, rendering it to the background and allowing it to take part only when strictly necessary in the production process. In that moment, painting and drawing became the axis of her work, insomuch as creating with her hands implied an act of creating ‘from within’. In words of French painter, Edgar Degas, “Drawing is not what you see but what you must make others see.”

The Moving Sketch

Systematic painting, as is characteristic of a search process, also comprised a reconsideration of the message-content of what was created, seeing as the how had already been resolved. Pictorial expressions, since the birth of the subject, have been a representation of the most intimate context, and of the concrete and external projections of that context, through meaning. And this is a relevant aspect of her art, because painting acquires the relevance it ought to have: to communicate¬–to signify. And how better to do so than to use the most immediate possession: the body. Herein lies the perfect alchemy, because the body, as asserted by Argentinian fashion sociologist, Susana Saulquin, “is considered not as a whole but as a collection of parts, which enable different functions—both physical and symbolic—to be completed, it is visualized as raw material”. In this line of thought, María Paula Barón not only works with fabric as a primary resource that signifies through painting, but also with the body itself, and upon the symbolic nature through which it is. The body is movement; it is life itself in endless motion—not just physical, but inner motion. And this is Barón’s secret—to sheathe the mobile everyday with meaning, to draw with movement. In light of this, she designed a collection of clothing as part of her graduation process at Glasgow, entitled Coulrophobia, through which she criticized the act of ‘dressing up’ in order to ‘fake the being every day’. We bring to you the textile designs in her collection.

María Paula Barón

María Paula Barón studied Design at Los Andes University in Colombia. She then completed a Masters in Design, Fashion and Textiles, Design and Applied Arts at The Glasgow School of Art between 2011 and 2012. She currently lives in Colombia and is an adjunct professor at the School she herself attended.

Photographer's Contact · Carolina Naranjo · Web

Designer Contact · María Paula Barón · Web