Carmen Reategui

Visual Artist

A rose is a rose

“…love is as strong as death”
(Song of Songs 8:6-78:6)

Roses have always been associated with women and beauty, but also, profoundly, to life and death, to the intense relationship that links them to the plexus of Eros and Thanatos.

It is said that the first white rose appeared when Venus emerged from the water, while the first red rose arose when the white rose became stained with the goddess’s blood when she was pricked by its thorns during her futile attempt to rescue her beloved Adonis from the jaws of death.

But the nature that is thus transformed, is also human. Carmen Reategui perceives and proposes this in successive pictorial depictions of the lifecycle of the rose. In 2009, she exhibited thirteen roses rather than twelve of them, all white, at different moments of the lifecycle, suggestive of a lunar calendar and a menstrual cycle. In this exhibit, the twelve flowers are intensely red, nearly black.

Vitality becomes agonizing passion, revealing the dark side of our opposing drives. A thanatological Eros where pain is another way to ecstasy, as in the art of painting: exhausting and grueling, but enjoyable. There is an obsessive insinuation in the hedonic discipline when these petals are painted on canvas like makeup on the body. A twist of opposite sensations that disturb us from the folds and transparencies of artistic intervention.

Suggestive, perturbing forms, extant in the preceding white sequence, become blurred by the renewed pictorial vigor where red now prevails. These ripe, instinctive and dark roses also depict the Black Prince roses the painter grows in her own garden. Reategui’s rose garden at the Hacienda Santa Rosa becomes a mutable but eternal setting, identifying in the vortex of flowers and thorns a delicate single white bed: her bed as a teenager, where her earliest desires were suffered and awakened.

A flag, Peruvian and personal, emblematic of mystical and carnal purity.

Susana Torres