Looking at one of Yago Hortal‘s artworks you’re immediately struck by the primacy of color: vivid, pure, unrestricted. Paint appears smudged, smeared, spread and splattered as it comes into contact with its final resting place on the canvas.
In fact there are broadly three types of work Hortal produces, or “families” as he refers to them himself, borrowing the concept from fellow Spanish painter Juan Uslé – another artist fascinated by color – to describe the different pictorial groups to which the works of a same author may belong.
The first one is formed by smaller-scale paintings which expand and break the classic pictorial format, bringing the works closer to a world more typical of sculpture.
In the second, large brushstrokes are the main protagonists of the work. The tension between background and figure increases in the eyes of the viewer owing to the sheer scale of the movements rather than the color alone. For Hortal, the brushstroke is at the same time the minimum and maximum pictorial expression, and that which gives the most value to this second family of work.
The third is characterized first and foremost by the almost calligraphic use of small, strongly contrasted brushstrokes. Here the artist explores complex compositions where the paint seems to remain frozen in time. This allusion to memory is no coincidence, temporality is a concept which fascinates Hortal and frequently comes into play in his work.
Together these three families give way to a constantly evolving body of work, one in which the boundaries of the artist’s own control over his art are tested. Hortal is constantly questioning the relationship between the artist’s intention for his work and the nature of the raw materials he works with as they appear in front of him.