Eric Tabales

Artist Eric Tabales (San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1962) has to his credit a collection of paintings characterized by an experimental search of form using a fusion of art and science. With studies in Science (1985), Medical Technology (1988), Painting (1993), and a Master of Arts from the Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Autónoma de México) in 1995, Eric Tabales debuted on the Art scene with collections derived from that fusion. Since his first exhibition in 1996 he has hosted twelve individual exhibitions. In seven of those exhibitions he received recognitions from the Association of Art Critics, Puerto Rico Chapter (Asociación de Críticos de Arte de Puerto Rico) and won two Best Exhibition Awards (in 1999 and 2005). While each exhibition was accompanied by catalogues, two were awarded Best Catalogue of the Year (2004 and 2005).

Some of his most noteworthy works are public pieces, such as Sol naciente taíno (Taíno Rising Sun, 2000), a monumental stained-glass panel integrated in the eastern façade of the Puerto Rico Museum of Art (Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico) that celebrates the birth of the sun. This is one of the most ambitious and complicated works of art Eric Tabales has created, fusing glass panels in an enormous concave space that spans over 2,000 square feet. In 1995, the National School of Plastic Arts in Mexico (Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, UNAM, México), selected Eric’s design to commemorate Professor Juan Acha. The Meditation Chapel of Juan Acha (Capilla de Meditación Juan Acha) is a space built with glass and steel beams that spins with the wind in order to reach a dynamic quality that reveals Acha’s inquisitive character and Eric’s innovative temper. It is also worth mentioning Eric’s incursion into furniture design in which he unites the traditional wood and bulrush furniture of the West Indies with oxidized polychromatic glass.

Tabales uses his knowledge in chemistry to experiment with different effects the oxides and acids will provoke on metal, canvas and glass surfaces to reflect an allegory of the passage of time. As the stain, relief, texture and color each unfold, a variety of options that Tabales undertakes to create a new polychromy with iron, copper, cobalt and Corten steel is revealed. This allegory is evident in his paintings as well, revealing its presence to be both fortuitous and controlled at the same time. Under the titles of his collections, Myths and Gods (Mitos y Dioses, 2004) and Saints (Santos, 2005), the artist, in an exercise of creative will, inquires into the critical aspects of the Western Culture, as he questions their deep meaning and continuous presence in the Arts.

For his latest collection, The Gift, Tabales puts aside abstract figuration. As a constant practice in his way of work, he embarks into an experimentation with new materials. In this case, he employs polyurethane screens to create tridimensional serpentine forms. Those relief screens provoke a deep chiaroscuro effect that emphasize textures and a rich surface quality which is produced by the artist adding brilliant, pure colors that both receives and projects light. The merging of both humanistic and scientific dimensions plays a part in this collection and it is an aspect that dominates throughout Tabales' work. To achieve a balance, it is for him an irrevocable sign that constitutes a guide and a search in a provocative ensemble, full of innovative ideas, with a local and universal accent.

Teresa Tió is a retired Professor in the Humanities College of the University of Puerto Rico.

Since 2005, Tabales works as a Resident Artist at the Universidad Central de Bayamón.

Eric Tabales is a researcher artist. He stamps intense contents to his work, from which he exposes situations of universal value. It brings to the consideration of us, the contemplators, overwhelming actions anywhere and anytime we find ourselves; actions that generates cathartic reactions when we contact them. Today, Eric guides us to the world of gods and semi-gods of the Greco-Latin time, where memory is preserved by the persistency of the verb in mythical manifestations. These stories reveal the resources employed by the people to express truths and convictions using linguistic guidelines of specific historical periods. The exhibition, "Mitos y Dioses", presents the abodes where the elite of that concept of the world entrenches. The objective of the artist is obvious: to settle us in places where we can see from a distance the inaccessible space kept away to human beings, where as it was thought, inhabited the circle of divinities that prevailed in a certain moment in time. We are referring to a place, located in its beginnings, in Mount Olympus, where Aristotle later idealized it behind the orbits of the celestial bodies he knew, which he named "Topus Uranus"; time stands still in there, and so, every inhabitant lives eternally. We must indicate that we can locate stories of love, passion, and violence that existed in those domains in the paintings. To the subscriber, it brings to mind the Homeric conception that reveals the vision of an existing parallelism among the events that affected people in regions where the supreme beings resided. That is why, during conflictive times, the all-mightiers took side with their favorites; and thus, clashes began, for the same reasons for both celestial and terrestrial levels.

In this collection by Tabales, it draws the attention to the fact that, when studied entirely, we appraise the discursive character of his production. It looks like a narrative piece about issues that happened in the immediate past. Probably the artist faced the challenge of analyzing a preterit that, in a certain sense, coexists with current times. The way he claims the thematic continuity makes us imaging Tabales as a witness that somehow succeeded in gaining access to such a private place. Apparently, his greatest effort has been the fact that he modernized in our unconsciousness issues that are translated into representations dominated by an emotional "non-finito." Such non-definition emanates from an independent flow to the chronological rigors.

One of Tabales's accomplishments is the depiction of its main characters as if they were emerging from cosmic contexts. Its components come up from a compilation of solid and gaseous elements in order to bring detective approaches that would evidence its atemporality-which works as reference with the purpose to give us an impression that we are in a point between the accessible and the mysterious. His pictorial nebulas are anthromorphized with the intention of incorporate them into a symbolic scaffold etched in the galactic spectrum. They are beings, trasmutated in indelible prints, clung to the still blurred cartography of the universe. They fight to sustain their eternity by winning affectionate values, and respond to a functional rationalism that would result in assigning their perpetual niches in the iconographic anthology defrayed by paganism. They seem to trust that the cyclic nature of narration, from which value is depended upon, would reinterpret them by renewing their validity to live in new sanctuaries. At this point, we see them as a part of a group of actors of the absurd that places them simultaneously between the past and the future. In this case, the duty of the artist is to capture their battle against anonymity to give us a panoramic view that warns us the phenomenology of the survival.

This body of work demonstrates a concern for the destiny against blasphemy attitudes that reject all the possibilities to reconceive the spiritual heritage we own. For such reason, Tabales maintained a determination to protect his diffused figurativeness, which manages to settle in the emotional extensions of his audience. He knows well that the main characters in his work have been rescued from a remaining of memories of a consummated time. The survivors claim a new intellectual analysis that supports them. Evidently, this group of speculations and convictions will develop a higher knowledge that would lead them to establish their possibility of being involved in the legacy of the Western World. The knowledge of "everything that is all too human", as Miguel de Unamuno used to say, would make us learn that memories do not stop at a time frame. When those memories manage to synchronize, they gain force at issues, which its contemporariness is perennial; and from there, sparks the magic touch that nurture the myths. The spirituality of the legends would make us think about issues the philosophers call "eons." These are topics with endless possibilities, and they are about issues that owns a faculty to maintain themselves at the margin of public scrutiny for long periods of time, and when we think they are out of our sight, they come back with the same or a stronger vitality.
Tabales accomplished to woven traditions when he artistically penetrated the arcane. He established a correspondence between his techno-stylistic knowledge and fable. There are mystifying tendencies in his career that supports harmonious states between tradition and creativity. From that harmony, emanates the driving force that leads him to a progressive aesthetic, which is adapted to modern times without allowing the classical spirit to vanish. The existing intersubjectivity in his work is frequently esoteric. We also notice a type of keenness, common to those who are initiated; this answers why he has an ability to analyze the apparently irrational thought and translate it into a conscious language. He seems to respond to theological demands that lead him to urge, in the deepest axiology, a way to linger and disseminate the mythological logos. Tabales knows well that if he does it, he would challenge the ravenous impulses of Cronus, which constitutes the reason why he operates under the protection of eloquent silences of the spirit that allow him to gain access into the deepest corners of the human being. Such situation enables him to aim towards symbolic arenas located in transgalactic spaces as if he had at his disposal a time machine. In view of those unborn panoramas, the painter establishes links with the elements of continuity etched throughout the whole creation, which allows him to step into inner rhythms, intensified by a repeating and sometimes uncontrollable behavior of the oxides.

Eric's creations give the impression that they emanate from liturgical contexts from where he accessed retrospective thoughts. If we could see the collection from a subjective perspective, we realize that he modernized consummated existential processes. It is a return; reached through a chronologic prolongation that he entered, thanks to a conferred aesthetic discourse filled with elastic touches that works to propel the mind; thus, a psychological interaction betweenthe work of art and its spectators is established. My opinion is that, in his mechanics, he parceled up events in a certain sequence so to impulse the creative dignity that emanates from expression. Thus, the eyes of both the profane and the consecrated can access the compositions agreed upon its possibilities. Tabales probably started from a premise of a story continuity that is attractive in many levels of the production. He showed a peculiar way to evidence simultaneously the richness of the event and its constant flow. He demonstrated how the autonomy of the memory works with its constant escapades. Eric established that, in a surviving state, a phenomenon of conspiracy is included so to maintain a certain resistance that works from atemporal plains.

The mythical imagery narrates the discourse of the survival of ideas. The solar rays, seen through the anthropomorphic conformation of Helios, -the god that travels across the space with his amazing Luminous Chariot-, serves as an example. On the other side, we see Apollo as a personification of the Sun, and a warrior that drives his chariot while displaying his incomparable skills with the bow -throwing incandescent arrows at a speed of light. We realize here the existence of issues, renewed with different celerities. Eric's work holds a special attractiveness because it throws away the interpretative stubbornness of orthodoxy revealing the pleasures and tragedies perpetuated through reasons for a permanent struggle against destiny in order to affirm a desire of immortality. This is why he guides his eyes to the stories etched in the firmament. The fact is that, in order to notice them, we need an optical shift, difficult to practice in the revolving state of today's life. We must put into evidence the way he shows the polytheistic balance between masculine and feminine divinities. It is exemplary how the powers of these divinities are well defined. While the ladies of the Olympus manifest powers over the inner nature of mortals, the men dominated the exterior forces that affected us positively or negatively. For example, the deities gave Aphrodite and Athena jurisdiction over love and knowledge; Zeus and Poseidon dominated the celestial sphere, the rays, thunders, and the sea, respectively.
Eric Tabales pushes us in regions lived by the emotion in the exhibition of "Mitos y Dioses." He guides us to abodes that are ideally favorable for rituals and things kept secret. Each one of his compositions remains in the fine frontier where future dilates and reduces itself into intimate levels. He makes us see the dynamism in the correlations of time and space, in which all the things emotional and perceptive are condensed as if they were realities deserting the chronological.
Music is the most emotional and abstract of all arts. Children, teenagers, adults, and olders from around the world are affected constantly by its sound. Its universal language and accessibility are the characteristics that make music the most familiar aesthetic manifestation for all human beings.

This time, lyric Tabales joins his ever-present passion with a new one recently found. The artist generously invites us to share it with him. Alter a long period researching and defining his aesthetic proposal; Tabales surprises us by playing music through the art of painting. Fifty-nine small format oxidized canvasses materialize the time, the sound, the rhythm and harmony of Classical masterpieces from the musical universe.

It is natural in the development of Eric's serious and responsible career that music is the subject of his current exhibition. Emotion and sensibility get together. Expressiveness is evident. The topic is exquisite and timeless. It talks to all of us.

Eric Tabales' "Música" is an invitation to a visual pleasure with the best coda possible - the pleasure of music.

Adlín Ríos Rigau

Universidad del Sagrado Corazón 
Adlín Ríos Rigau
Universidad del Sagrado Corazón

Gema, nombre genérico de las piedras preciosas. Ellas captan o reflejan la luz y presentan una riqueza de colores muy difícil de cuantificar. De igual manera, captan la atención de hombres y mujeres reflejando la personalidad de quien las posee. El arte presenta un paralelismo interesante, toda vez que nos ciega con sus destellos creativos, y cautiva mente y corazón con la diversidad expresiva que lo caracteriza.

En el desarrollo de la historia del arte, muy particularmente desde el arte moderno hasta nuestros días, la exposición de obras artísticas ha tenido un auge sin precedentes. Desde 1863 cuando el Desayuno sobre la hierba de Manet debutó en el Salón de los Rechazados de Paris, a la primera exposición de los Impresionistas en 1874, pasando por el Armory Show de Nueva York, el cual en 1913 familiarizó a los norteamericanos con el arte europeo, hasta la muestra Nueva Pintura del MOMA que en 1959 dio a conocer a los expresionistas abstractos, el acto de exponer se ha convertido en una nueva forma de arte.

La exposición de la obra de arte supone el paso final que culmina el proceso de la comunicación visual. Es, en ese momento, que el artista comparte su creación con el público y al hacerlo se expone a su crítica. Exponer es una dimension social de la producción artística que hoy en día es inseparable del proceso creativo; como es inseparable la relación entre marchantes y distintos tipos de exhibición para la promoción del arte actual. A tenor con la importancia y necesidad de exhibir, nuestros artistas obstentan una sólida carrera: Tabales tiene a su haber 15 exposiciones individuales a nivel nacional e internacional, 30 participaciones en colectivas y 10 monumentos de arte público. Por su parte, Cacheila ha presentado 8 exposiciones individuales y 60 colectivas. La seriedad de sus propuestas ha sido elemento común.

En esta conjunción nos alegramos de ser testigos de la presentación de la exhibición GEMAS de los artistas puertoriqueños Eric Tabales y Cacheila Soto en la Galería San Patricio en Guaynabo. La exhibición de 48 dípticos de pequeño formato realizados por Tabales y Soto, en un centro comercial, hace al arte asequible a un público mayor. Un público que quizás nunca haya visitado un museo o galería. Si descontamos los aspectos formales, de fruición estética y los educativos, todos inherentes a la actividad museográfica, una exposición en un centro comercial –dado la realidad consumerista de la época- es un esfuerzo que puede lograr una difusión importante. Ya hemos visto el éxito del MAP @ Plaza. Exhorto y animo a que se realicen en centros comerciales programas de exhibiciones de arte curados por profesionales en los cuales la accesibilidad y la excelencia de las obras expuestas impacten positivamente al consumidor. Confiamos que éstos se convertirán – poco a poco- en futuros visitantes de museos y galerías de arte.

GEMAS es magnífico comienzo. En ella, cohexisten el concepto, la técnica y la expresividad. Los artistas han trabajado sobre y alrededor de distintas piedras preciosas. Se han inspirado en la naturaleza, en sus colores y en sus texturas y en lo que para ellos representan, para crear un diálogo entre los temas que distinguen a ambos creadores: las abstracciones de Eric Tabales y los retratos femeninos de Cacheila Soto. Nunca antes, elementos tan distintos han conversado tan armoniosamente como en ésta ocasión. 

¡Qué brille el diálogo entre el arte y el observador!

Su propuesta estética siempre inteligente, sorprende siempre, refleja dramáticamente nuestro momento histórico. Mediante una sabia combinación de la poesía y la ciencia, Eric Tabales logra el encanto y la magia. Veamos.

Los preciosos pedazos del Universo que este artista nos ha venido regalando por algunos años ya, se convierten ante nuestros ojos en experiencias espirituales que nos transportan, mediante la luz y el color, tanto a los orígenes como al futuro. Eric Tabales utiliza magistralmente la abstracción para que ésta se convierta en un misterioso pero seductor espejo de nuestro principio y de nuestros posibles vuelos. También su obra refleja este increible presente que nos ha tocado vivir en e siglo XX.

Ante los acontecimientos al final de estos 100 años de soledades, Eric Tabales ha querido construir un hermoso poema que nos revela nuestra propia cara. Sus nuevas composiciones, sus magníficas pinturas en óxido y sus provocadoras esculturas en metal y vidrio, son inteligentes met� foras sobre nuestra existencia en el siglo de las dos guerras mundiales y de las comunicaciones, en el siglo del cine y la belleza y de las grandes injusticias, en el siglo del espacio y del hambre y las plagas que ahora nos azotan.

Estos nuevos poemas visuals de Eric Tabales son esencia sobre la Vida y la Muerte. En ellos el artista nos reta a que nos demos cuenta de nuestra belleza y posibilidades como poetas/ creadores y de nuestra fragilidad y vulnerabilidad como cuerpos/ naves. Son estas composiciones hermosísimas y enigmáticas topografías sobre la eternal lucha/ baile comunió entre Eros y Tánatos. A través de ellas Eric Tabales quiere que nos veamos como ángeles llenos de ganas y hambrientos que no están seguros si al final nos acudirán alas. El artista quiere que nos demos cuenta que hay un Orden y un Caos, y que en este juego de la Vida y Muerte son los eternos protagonistas, pero que en última instancia, la Vida es muy corta para también hacerla pequeña.

Como vemos, la fuerza creative de Eric Tabales vuelve a ser una donde la estética va acompañada de la ética. Esta exposición que fue concebida con mucho entusiasmo y mucho profesionalismo por Mercedes Quiñones y Eric Tabales hace algún tiempo (cuando nuestra querida Mercedes aún estaba llena de ganas y proyectos) es una excepcional manifestación estética y ética que nos invita acercarnos al milagro de la Vida y al misterio de la Muerte con toda sus contradicciones, con todas sus injusticias, con todas las posibilidades de la Felicidad y del Amor.

Este original bestiario/universo (dos extremos) es en esencia un abrazo, un entorno fraternal que nos recuerda que la luz y las alas siempre han sido nuestras.

Manuel Alvarez Lezama
San Juan de Puerto Rico, 1999.

La Mitología, el griego mythologia, es el conjunto de mitos, leyendas y fábulas concernientes a dioses y héroes fabulosos de un pueblo o país determinado.

Los mitos se refieren a ciclos heroicos, a leyendas en torno a un dios o a un semidiós, a las narraciones más o menos noveladas que tienen un fundamento histórico, que, por su narración, nos han sido dados a conocer multitud de hechos protagonizados por dioses y héroes o semidioses.

Mitología es, pues, la relación de leyendas que surgen de la tradición oral del relato de hechos con una base más o menos histórica.

Sabemos que desde la antigüedad y durante gran parte de la historia de las civilizaciones, el tema de la mitología ha estado presente. Así los dioses mitológicos han sido protagonistas de la historia del arte. Durante las últimas décadas este tema no ha sido abordado como en el pasado. Rufino Tamayo ha sido uno de los artistas que ha trabajado el tema.

DIOSES es una exhibición compuesta de 35 pinturas realizadas en la técnica de óxidos sobre lienzo. Las mismas son de gran formato, variando los tamaños desde 36" x 48" hasta 60" x 96". Las piezas datan de finales del año 2000 hasta el 2003.

Conocer al artista, al ser humano, es tan interesante como conocer su obra. La pasión, la entrega, el respeto por el arte y su visión de que todos somos un solo Universo, resumen tanto la obra de Eric Tabales, como su propio ser.

Para él lo realmente importante en el arte es el concepto que, a su juicio es lo trascendental y eterno, no la materia. Por eso sus trabajos se caracterizan en oxidar mediante el uso de procesos químicos todo material que pueda utilizar, desde la tela y el papel, hasta el vidrio y el metal. De esta forma su obra se transforma y evoluciona al igual que la vida o el universo mismo.

Es que para Eric Tabales el arte está presente en todo lo que nos rodea. Por algo el destino lo llevó a estudiar primero química y biología y luego arte, obteniendo una maestría en pintura con concentración en Arte Urbano de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Esta explosiva, y a veces incongruente unión entre las ciencias y las artes, le ha permitido desarrollar una visión y expresión única en su obra. Obras que abarcan desde pinturas, esculturas, mobiliario y monumentos, hasta arte urbano.

Los trabajos que ilustran este portfolio no sólo son ejemplos de esa visión y expresión artística, sino que demuestran su interés de que su obra se integre a la ciudad, a las edificaciones que nos rodean, en fin, de que su arte y su mensaje de lo efímero y lo eterno, de la materia y del universo, sean parte de la realidad cotidiana de la vida misma.

Astrid Díaz Vega, Arquitecta

Eric Tabales’ new collection.

By: Manuel de J. Vázquez

The new collection of Puerto Rican artist Eric Tabales is an unconventional series of paintings about the act of giving something as a present: a “Gift” --the title of his new work. It is an exercise filled with great creative and intentional capacity that brings us to a closer look at universal themes, in spite of life struggles.

“Gift” is a bold artistic series of paintings based on experimentation and unusual approach. Tabales is daring and ventures to try everything: painting, sculpture, glass, graphic and furniture design. His initial studies in science has taken him to invent new ways on how he approaches a canvas, a piece of glass or metal by oxidation, and through those oxides, either by experimentation, accident, and will, a way of painting is born. In 1995, Tabales patented this oxidize technique after years of technical and conceptual research, which has taken him to view international art in a new way.

An important piece of this new artistic vision is “Sol naciente taíno” (Taíno Rising Sun, 2000) a series of stained-glass panels integrated in the eastern façade of the Puerto Rico Museum of Art (Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico). This textural and translucent monumental piece exemplifies Eric’s presence in Modern Art, and it is his liaison with Architecture. Among other architectural and modern sculptural examples are “The Meditation Chapel of Juan Acha”, 1995 (Capilla de Meditación Juan Acha) at the National School of Plastic Arts in Mexico City (Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, UNAM, México); “Reflective Space”, 1996 (Espacio Reflexivo) at University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Universidad del Sagrado Corazón); and “The Chapel of the Fallen Christ”, 2006 (Capilla del Cristo Caído) at the Central University of Bayamón (Universidad Central de Bayamón), where Eric is the Resident Artist.
Eric Tabales perceives art in everything around us. It is for this very reason that Eric studied Chemistry, Biology and completed a Master Degree in Public Arts at the National School of Plastic Arts in Mexico City. This fusion of art and science has allowed him to develop an unusual plastic vision. For Eric, concept is the most important aspect in art --it is the most transcendental and eternal factor, not the material itself. This is the reason why his works are characterized by the oxidation, through chemical processes, of every material available: canvas, paper, glass or metal. This is how his work transforms and evolves, just like life or the universe, and he does it in a modern language, as it is shown in “Gift” --a collection of abstract forms that evokes joy and happiness. Without losing balance, these pieces show a great dynamism that manifests action, sometimes in a serene way, but overall, each piece conveys a joy of living.

In “Gift”, the artist works again with abstraction. He stamps strong topics on each canvas and shows situations of universal value. To the contemplators, Eric brings to them stirring actions that generate reactions that will purify the soul. All the pieces in this collection are full with vivid and joyful colors purposely selected for us to discover the beauty of life, and each one has a different scene or shows an experienced moment in life. It is obvious that the artist’s intention is to take us to a place where we can make a reflection of the world crisis and asks us to transform it into a gift of joy. I must make clear that in each story expressed in the paintings, basic topics are found: nature, universe, values, faith, or peace. It is an homage of everything positive. If anything in this collection is meant to show, it is the concern for the agitated modern society that unveils desperation, pain and anguish. The artist raises questions and analyzes contemporary humanity, and at the same time, he looks for answers that will reinterpret human values in order to build a new life.

Tabales is a creator of a new visual environment building system with paintings that work as a whole to result in avant-garde masterworks. The development of a critical and attentive eye to the works of other painters before him, has given Eric a place as a prominent contemporary Latin American artist with an immense creative capacity. This new collection is an example of an artist with a new attitude who is totally involved with today’s society that confronts him with analytical tasks on social cognitive processes. His exploratory and bold use of an abstract vocabulary has prompted him to be an influential person in the contemporary Puerto Rican and international art scene. His vocation to reach everyone has a purpose, and that is to take “Gift” to every sphere of life.

Eric’s new series of paintings proves his contribution to the values of today’s society. We can compare this collection with the works of Russian Constructivist artists, Alexandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova who, enlightened by an utopian impulse to radically transform society, tried to bring into practice their desire to unify art with life. We see Eric as an artist who shares the philosophy and the feelings of those Masters of Constructivism who, based upon a new society, they developed a new artistic attitude connected with the construction of an object. The society that Tabales describes is one that suffers, is desperate and feels distress.

Eric’s intention with this collection is to construct an artistic object that brings joy to the contemplators despite the pain in our planet. It is his desire to construct a new society. If we compare Rodchenko and Popova’s Constructivism Art theories, we see that the technique, applied mechanically, erased every trace of individuality, and transformed this non-object art into the best metaphor of the end of a world and the beginning of a new one, a new start in the aesthetic and social experience. In “Gift”, the aesthetic practices inherited by Tabales from the traditional constructivism still combine art and society to enhance the interaction between the spectator and the painting. The preparations for this new collection were finished in the middle of the economy crisis of 2008, when the slogans of the Democrat candidate in the United States promised a new socio political change. In this context, the revolutionary aspirations of Rodchenko and Popova, just like the historical context in Eric’s collection, seems even more relevant now than we thought before, under a total sense of positivism.

We find in Eric’s work a tendency towards Action Painting. Generally speaking, this style is an abstract pictorial movement of gestural characteristics adopted by some members of the American School of Abstract Expressionism. From a technical point of view, Action Painting consists of splattering paint on the canvas in an energetic and spontaneous manner, in other words, without a prefixed plan. The goal is to transform the canvas into an “action field” in order to avoid any reproduction of reality. In Eric Tabales’ case, he substituted classical pigments such as oils or acrylics with oxides and non-traditional chemical materials. Another substitute element for pigments is the polyurethane screen, which becomes an iconic image in this collection. The artist uses this element to recreate a ribbon wrapped around a gift box. There are other parallel characteristics between Tabales and Action Painting artists, for example, the desire to express the artist’s emotions on a playing field, where performing on a canvas represents the act of expressing a feeling that will result in an encounter between composition and aesthetic.

The aesthetic of Action Painting emphasizes the very own act of painting an instant moment in the life of any artist, and therefore, a unique element in his or her biography --regardless of any expressive or representational aspect it may have. Historian Jennifer Rosenberg explains this style: “At a certain moment, rather than reproduce, redesign, analyze or express a real or an imaginary object on a space, what the artist should have done is not to paint an image, but to capture an event.” The main artists of Action Painting are: Arshile Gorky, Hans Hoffmann, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Willen de Kooning (the only artist that outlined forms) and Jackson Pollock, considered the best artist in this style.

Consequently, the works from these Masters were often seen formalistic as mere results of the relationship between the artist and his materials. Such formality is found in the style and work of Eric Tabales, where there is a strong connection between the artist and his materials, a concept that distinguishes him from the conventional and the ordinary. The main materials used in Action Painting are: brushes (not used in a normal way), cloths, paint, jugs and light bulbs. Generally speaking, the artists use everything they find to create an abstract and spontaneous art. If we compare these materials with those used by Tabales, this collection is superior in quantity, variety and versatility. Among the materials mentioned above, we need to include oxides, glass, metals, gems, wood, clay, polyurethane screens, liquid aluminum and countless of other materials that would only add to Eric’s creativity.

The creative mind of Eric Tabales establishes a psychological interaction between the painting and the contemplator. He accomplishes, in a peculiar manner, to evidence simultaneously the richness of life and its constant flow. In “Gift”, he manages to take us to a place filled with emotions and energy. The collection is ambitious and intimate. The artist unveils an intentional honesty that is bonded with classical contemporary art movements and conceptualizations. There is a clear social intention, condemn and commitment in his work. Eric embodies the problems and the absence of specific human values in the world.

This new series of paintings is a dignified example of what is current in the art of Puerto Rico and the world. Without a doubt, based on what Eric has accomplished so far, we will see more from this prodigious and original Puerto Rican artist. I call the attention of every collector and art lover to appraise the importance of the art of Eric Tabales --who is also an excellent human being.
aria. f. Composición musi-cal sobre cierto número de versos para que la cante una sola voz.

Diccionario de la Lengua Española

Alquimia entre ciencia y arte, una mente inquisitiva, creatividad inagotable y una trayectoria sólida son algunos destellos que describen al artista puertorriqueño Eric Tabales. Cuando los estudios científicos producen arte, cuando el proceso investigativo constantemente está activo, cuando la originalidad de sus conceptos siempre nos sorprenden, el resultado son premios nacionales y una cadena de espléndidas exposiciones individuales. Recordemos solo algunas de ellas: Entre papel, cristal y tela (1999), Enigmas y bestias (2000),Cariátides (2002), Mitos y Dioses (2004), Santos(2005), Música (2006) o Mares (2008) para visualizar la fuerza estética del discurso plástico de nuestro artista.

Siendo la música la más emotiva de las artes, no debe sorprendernos que después de la exitosa exposición Música del 2006, Tabales haya vuelto a inspirarse en dicha manifestación artística y nos ofrezca en esta ocasión, su íntima interpretación de algunas de las arias más famosas del repertorio operático. Al reflexionar sobre la definición de la palabra aria, nos percatamos que el artista ha traducido el sonido del bel canto en formas, texturas y colores para compartir con nosotros sus sentimientos.

Así vemos- casi escuchamos- la victoria en “Nessun Dorma”, la nostalgia en “Ombra mai fu”, el amor en “Liebestod”, el coraje en “Der Hoelle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” y la armonía en “Au fond du temple saint”. Sentimientos logrados visualmente que hasta los mismos Puccini, Handel, Wagner,Mozart y Bizet aprobarían.

Celebremos a través de la música y de la pintura, la voz única de Eric Tabales.

Adlín Ríos Rigau
Catedrática de la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón
Miembro Asociación Internacional de Críticos de Arte, AICA-PR
Viewed in its entirely, this exhibition is not only a ‘tour de force’, but a mystical and an extraordinary experience similar to what we feel when we visit the great temples, cathedrals and basilicas; and also, it reminds our interaction with Michaelangelo’s frescos in the Sixtine Chapel or Rothko’s paintings in his amazing chapel in Texas.

We are before a collection of works from an artist with a vision, his latest work, his ‘Santos’, is an ‘epiphany’. The ‘corpus’ (body) of work in this exhibition –25 paintings all together-- accomplishes a unique ‘cosmos’ (order) in which the artist, through the body and words from some extraordinary men and women, introduces us on how they lived, and how they became saints—as defined by the Church after they have passed away. (We all know that sanctity is a process, sometimes it takes the Catholic Church one-hundred years to select those who would be our guides/compasses in order to reach God.) Eric Tabales wants the image of his ‘Santos’, and the words of his ‘Santos’ –when they were not saints yet, but only women and men that did good-- to touches all of us esthetically and ethical/morally. To achieve this, Eric will use all the resources that have distinct him as an artist from his beginnings: honesty, professionalism, and originality. He will integrate his enormous resources in Abstractionism and Neofigurativism so through his canvases we can see more.

Both his paintings and his tri-dimensional work, his intimate and his monumental works and public artwork, Eric Tabales has used his medium and his relationship with Time (the process of aging, the change, the metamorphosis) as metaphor of life itself. His famous oxides in paper, canvas, glass, or in his post-modern artifacts just like his stained-windows at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico are mirrors of our body and soul (Heraclitus, Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus Christ, Paul, Augustine, Thomas, John of the Cross).

In ‘Santos’, Eric Tabales will use all his knowledge as an artist (the chemicals to ‘translate’ and ‘give life’ to the human figure and the soul –the most difficult task) and as a humanist (philosophy and sicology), to convert every single one of his painting in both a lesson and an epiphany. Through the use of color, especially red –all the reds-- and light –all the lights-- the artist invites us to share a significant moment (sometimes THE moment) in the life of those who were fortunate enough to practice and understand the true generosity, the true compassion, the true love.

Eric Tabales chose a group of twenty-five saints from the Catholic Church --a group of Saints composed by ‘the Innocents’ of the times when Herod reigned, up to Augustine; from the first martyrs of the Middle Ages through Thomas, including saints from Latin-America such as Rosa of Lima and Martín de Porres. And through the humanity, conduct, and life of these saints, he intends to teach us the possibility of a path—the path of sanctity, that is. 

Eric Tabales has done a profound study of the life and work of every saint that he chose for this exhibition; and through their presence (body and action), and their words (quotes, extraordinary words that define their uniqueness), Eric has succeed to get our close attention and comprehend the lives of these saints (if we allow it) in an almost metaphysical way. What the artist looks for with his knowledge of the lives of these saints, and then, to ‘recreate’ them on his canvas, is to make us participants in a mystical experience. And he succeed again, because the images, actions, and words contained on these paintings are mirrors of something that belongs to each and every one of us.

And to create such paintings, Eric Tabales, the perfectionist Eric Tabales worked with models that dramatized some defined moments; and Eric Tabales photographed them, and Eric Tabales draw numerous sketches until Eric Tabales was satisfied to start painting.

The process began in November of 2003 with Tomás (Thomas), the author of ‘Suma’, the Saint who summed all the whys to believe. And Eric Tabales, the son of Francisca, came back again with Francisco de Asís (Francis of Asisi) and his love of Nature.

With his combination of lights, Eric Tabales constructs and gives life to illuminated human beings whose light seduces and makes us fall in love so we can see/reach the True Light.

Eric Tabales’ ‘Santos’ recall us so much –from the blood-stained clothes wore by those who died violently, to those discourses by Pollock and Rothko that flowed into the esthetics of Post-Modernism. But we also realize that we are before a unique and evolving proposal where a dialogue is established between the canons of the Middle Ages and those of the Renaissance, where Abstraction and Figurativism hold each other in a embrace, and where words and light could have the same meaning.

We are in the presence of a versatile artist that enjoys both his plants and birds, and to work/oxidize his canvases; an artist that loves both the good conversation with his friends and the construction of spaces for meditation/communion.

These oxidized canvases, these complex textures, these dialogues of lights and reds, these spectacular images –sometimes lyrical, sometimes powerfully dramatic-- can be seen as invitations to re-evaluate our lives, and the purpose of this ‘voyage’ so difficult but yet so beautiful.

And what the artist wants in these paintings is that the image emerges from the light. Because for Eric Tabales, they are illuminated people; because that is what we are, I say, Manuel, illuminated animals…

Each one of these paintings represents a text that invites/accepts/requires lectures of many different levels –and just like any good piece of art, it will grow and undergo through many metamorphosis with time.

Each painting from the ‘Santos’ collection, Time stands still, and just like magic, the life of each of these woman and men will make sense.

This exhibition is a life reflection of an artist defined by a profound and serious research of light. In the works of Eric Tabales we always find a combination of color, materials, space and light; in his enigmatic ‘stained-windows’ and also his beautiful chapels, light always comes through triumphant.

Just like in the Middle Ages, where words were incorporated into the work of art and churches’ walls, Eric Tabales incorporates words (a meticulous and delicate process of painting each letter) in each of his works. To decipher the content of each painting is a challenge –a challenge we gladly accept because we were seduced /fell in love already with the image.

Reds, because red is the color of blood; because there were so much blood in martyrdom; because blood is the symbol of sacrifice and purification. Red it is because of the blood of Christ, and because of all the bloods that people have shed so we can be alive here in this 2005 of the 21st century.
“Red, because red tends to darken,” says Eric, “and I want light.”

The words chosen by Eric Tabales reveal the human in each one of his Saints. Their words will clarify us that they were men and women just like us, that in one defined moment they saw the Light and behave in an unlikely way. Each text of each painting you find a different path, but all of them will take you to the true sanctity – a sanctity that could be recognized or dismissed by those with power.

The ‘Santos’ of Eric Tabales are defined by living a holy life without wanting/thinking to receive sanctity –granted after their death. With their example, conversion, and love, “they will make the search of our own path much easier,” says the artist.

The ‘chemical pointillism’ of Eric Tabales will get us closer to the ecstasy of Teresa and the suffering of Barbara because the bodies and spaces of these Saints are built on light. Because “the body remains contaminated only if your soul allows it,” Lucia.

The written words on the canvases never compete against the images on them. There is a complete harmony. Just like in the Middle Ages –and now in the era of Post-Modernism--, the word and the image –in this case, the body--, are parts of a whole.

This voyage begins with ‘Los inocentes’ (The Innocents), but not the Holy Innocents; then, we see ‘Agustín’ (Augustine) and ‘Tomás’ (Thomas) and Barbara, to later arrive, after so many harbors (Cavafis), to the ‘La Solemnidad de los Santos’ (The Solemnity of the Saints), where each of us could belong.

The title of each painting holds the name of each ‘Saint’, but without the title of Saint because Eric wants to emphasize their human essence and not their theological importance.

We will see a girl waiting to be beheaded; a man in love with nature kissing the leg of a leper; we see Basilio (Basil the Great) reminding us that we all are thieves because we do not give/help with what we do not need anymore; and we also see Magdalena Sofía Barat (Madelene Sophie Barat) reminding us as well that we have to be humble because that is the way to perfection. In ‘Santos’ we will see both the terrible and the beautiful, and the purpose of seeing so much is to get closer to sweetness, and to motivate ourselves to grow, to take flight.

And there he is, Juan (John) with the purities of Baptism.

And there we find Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross) in jail, doubting, and from his doubts emerged the most beautiful mystical poetry ever written.

And there he is, Sebastián, the rebellious and the beloved/lover Sebastián, who asked Dioclesian, “Why are you chasing us? You are killing all of us just because we love each and every one.” And Eric Tabales recreates/gives life to him with beauty and light—all the external and internal ones. And there he is, Sebastián, the beloved/lover and the rebellious Sebastián.

We can see that Eric Tabales not only has made a profound research study on every Saint but there also exists an enormous empathy with them, their life, defeats and flights. Because, in his own particular way, as a man and as an artist, Eric Tabales has begun a path that started when he took the oxidized materials and created with them a pure form of art. He understood the power of the words and incorporated them into his artwork; he also created spaces of light to see the Saints and to see ourselves in them. He studied and understood all the Myths and Gods that established the base of Western Culture; and now, Eric embraces the humanity in every Saint. Eric is very ready to receive the gift of resurrection by Life itself. 

Just like Plato, Jesus Christ, and all the Saints who invited us to admire pure beauty and to embrace pure goodness, Eric Tabales has accomplished the same with his paintings. That is the reason why there is a ‘La Solemnidad de los Santos’ (The Solemnity of the Saints), painted with the colors of Dawn. We hope in the End, just like the moment when Dante was before God, we are able to understand everything –the movement of the stars, and the meaning of every single gaze. AMEN.

Manuel Álvarez Lezama