July of 2013
‘Ajanta’ protagonist of the exhibition ‘Alfredo Bikondoa’ organized by Jean Paul Perrier Fine Art Gallery, at the Sea Club in Puerto Banus, in the summer program ‘Masters of XX & XXI Centuries’, which will include other exhibitions of artists such as Picasso, Miro or Dalí.


‘The last face of Ajanta’, by Álvaro Bermejo.


To the west of the Indian continent, in the state of Maharastra and in the center of a wooded hollow near the Indyhagiri mountains, is a collection of artificial caves excavated during the splendor period of Gupta art. Beyond the sacredness of the surroundings, there is an extraordinary set of frescoes depicting the various reincarnations of the Buddha. We see him as prince and beggar, as enlightened and walking, sometimes alone, others surrounded by wise men, kings and princesses. Their faces radiate an unsettling serenity, a strange beauty, a rare contemporaneousness in their bill, although we are talking about a time that dates back to the sixth century of our era. The dampness of the caves has deteriorated the stucco with the artist’s hand, giving these images a touch of material and expressionist that recalls the excoriations of Antoni Tapies. But, of all of them, there is one that appears from a canvas by Alfredo Bikondoa. It represents a black bodhisattva, to whom a lady offers a lotus flower, symbol of enlightenment.


It came to my mind, like a flash-I dare not write like a vision-that day when I visited Alfredo’s workshop and found myself in front of a woman’s face as if torn from the caves of Ajanta. It seemed painted on the same limestone, torn, damaged, sacralized by the deterioration of time. His silent, introspective gaze, contained in those deep black eyes filled with silence, transcended the pure exteriority of the face to enter into the most secret of consciousness.


The canvas appears broken in two spaces with an enormous power of suggestion. Her left half is only a wall, an ocher wall, like torn plaster, from which the face of this young woman, with large dark eyes, whose face appears to be diluted, to be erased in a range of grays appears to emerge. It is as if Bikondoa told us that the essence of that face lies precisely in its dead part, in the wall that frames it, as if waiting for someone to write its history. A story we are eager to know, because everything here is a mystery.


In many cases in the history of Art, the mystery is definitive. We know nothing about the person who offers himself before our eyes. At other times we can know everything, but the artist’s hand reveals to us what we do not know and which, nevertheless, constitutes the essential of the personality of his model, besides that of the artist himself, who configures his portrait from the most genuine of his sensitivity.


We are not here before one of those late-modern portraits that pretend to be a hyperrealist photograph. Far from all this, Bikondoa’s commitment seems to point to an antagonistic purpose. Rather than reveal, it seeks to hide. Instead of painting the portrait of a being of flesh and bone, he painted the portrait of a soul. Nebula, mysterious, evanescent, emerged from the stone, but sustained by the consciousness. There is something about her portraits of the Germans of the twenties, their static air and the severity of their expression. But the colors are from a very earlier period, a gradation of oxidized ocher, almost violet grays, golds and earths. Art Gupta, but also pre-Romanesque. Funeral paintings of El Fayun, but also pure Expressionism of the 21st century.


Together with the horizontal arrow that rips the wall and points to the secret of his gaze, the most modern of the Ajanta of Bikondoa is its dry beauty, without any blush or softness, only line and volume: the foreshortened face, the high cheekbones, the Chin strong, mouth drawn with a sensuality of fleshy lips that also encloses a gesture of subtle determination. By its impersonality, it gives the sensation to represent a feminine archetype. However, her individuality is so powerful, so intense, that the portrait of woman, rather than the mirror of a soul, reflects the soul of one who is looking at it. And, without looking at us, trapped in her wall as in a secret garden, she speaks to us. Invitation to the mystery, acceptance of death, nirvana of serenity, balance of mind and senses.


There is an invisible door, open to our back. As I look again and again at the Ajanta of Bikondoa, I have the feeling that he has already managed to cross it.