Rosi Calderon: Secret-Bearing Letters
Letters are arbitrary shapes, taught us Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, who changed the world of modern linguistics back in the 19th century, and coined the terms "signifier" and "signified." These concepts sound so familiar today, as if they have always been here. De Saussure emphasized the distinction between the physical dimension of the sign, namely its form, and the dimension of meaning.
Rosi Calderon depicts the Hebrew letters. She forges a personal relationship with them, and in so doing infuses them with content both religious and secular, creating her magical world within them. She does this with the intention of lending them a meaning deriving from her heart, hoping that the viewer will relate to them and their meaning in accordance with his/her own spiritual worldview and inclinations. Calderon allows the viewer intuitive freedom of choice, while at the same time emphasizing her closeness to Judaism and the secrets of Kabbalah in her decision to paint the wind blowing from the earth upward, to the heavens, in keeping with the direction of prayer.
Calderon's works abound in powerful patches of color. For each letter, she chooses several dominant hues, and only rarely is mastery given to just a single color. She feels that the Hebrew letters represent sanctity, but not only, attesting to a spiritual process which she experienced with each letter individually. In the painting of the letter Dalet , she envisioned doors carried in the wind while flying high in the sky. In the painting of the letter Ayin , she turned to meditation, which led to images flashing into her mind from the subconscious, and these elicited her desire to portray the anatomical structure of the eye ( ayin in Hebrew) realistically. The painting of the letter Zayin delves into the depths of Kabbalah as befitting an obsessive engagement with the Occult and the image of the elements of Kabbalah.
In Hebrew, every letter and sound has meaning on the religious level as well. The letter Tsadi and its sound, for example, intuitively conjure up the Psalm verse (92:13): " The righteous will flourish like a palm tree ," and therefore Calderon gave it a realistic painting of a palm tree. The graphic image of the letter Nun is the signifier. As signified the artist chose to paint lit candles to illuminate our path in the world.
Calderon worked on the letter paintings for five consecutive years, during which she also decided to incorporate photographs within the letters, which are imbued with tones of earth, fire, sky, wind, and water. The photographs depict mainly religious symbols; some refer to Judaism, while others allude to mystical and other beliefs. Coming to use all the contents and symbols that link her to the letter she creates, Calderon feels a strong desire to understand the meaning of the letters. She testifies to a mystical experience, in which the letters began to dance in her head, when she was fully conscious.
Observing each letter, one discerns elements of abstract painting, evident in brushstrokes that form colorful dabs, alongside recognizable figurative images, including female figures, trees in the fall, a fire burning, a woman's head in profile, and a male figure lying on the ground, observed by the silhouette of a pregnant woman.
The twenty-two paintings of the Hebrew letters were created with the intention of sharing personal perspectives with others.
Rosi Calderon was born in 1965 in Mexico City, where she lives and works today. Holds a BS in Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Following an encounter with an infinite reflection of abstract beauty, which she saw through a microscope during her studies, she decided to make a career change and turned to painting and photography studies.