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The research and first material stages of this proyect have been developed with the support of the Canada Council for the arts

Blue Logbook

The following notes are taken from my Idiaries (a set of notebooks where I keep a record of my ideas and processes), my publications in my social networks and any other notes I have made on the process. In them, I have kept all the track of my research of the Egyptian Blue. Since the work is still in progress, this notes will keep growing with time. Here, I will leave a testament of the whole creative process involving the pigment.

June 12th, 2017

In Saqqara, on the outskirts of a destroyed temple, there is an endless sea of sand that extends to the horizon, and is occasionally interrupted by dunes that look like waves, some rocks, some scattered pieces of the temple and, unfortunately, some colorful pieces of trash. The last standing remains of the temple are the entrance and a corridor flanked by columns. After wandering around the place, I felt a strange urge to take a bag full of sand from that place. I still don't know the purpose, but the simple fact of having sand from the Egyptian desert and being able to carry it with me to Bogota seems fascinating. This sand must have thousands of stories to tell, it seems to me a much better souvenir than most of the things that can be purchased here to take away, most of them plastic or resin and made in china.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

September 23rd, 2018

Walking around a second-hand book store, near the Avenida Jimenez in Bogota, I was browsing some books when, from among the sheets of one that I was holding in my hands fell an old photocopy with a centered caption that reads: "Eleventh Chapter, Blue and Yellow." The text is written in double column, the one on the left is in Spanish and the other one is in Latin. It contains instructions for the preparation of two pigments. Blue is described using sand from Egypt as main ingredient.

 

I have been researching the text and found out it's the chapter XI of the seventh book "de Architectura" by Marco Vitruvio Polion, written in the first century. It occurred to me to do the experiment, I will try to replicate the recipe for the blue with the sand that I brought from Egypt.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

February 7th, 2018

I have been doing some research on the recipe that Vitruvius describes, aside from the ambiguity, I have discovered that the blue he refers to in the text is Caeruleus (the Romans named it after the sky, caelum). But the recipe is older, Egyptian, and the pigment, which today is known as Egyptian blue (to distinguish it from modern cerulean), appears to have been in use for about 5,000 years.

The original recipe had already undergone several changes by the time of Vitruvius (about 3000 years since its invention). The one described by Vitruvius was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire because it lost popularity due to the appearance of new, easier and cheaper methods.

This blue is the first pigment that was not made of crushed semi-precious mineral. It was the first in history to be prepared by human engineering, synthetically.

These news are extremely exciting for me, I hope I can prepare it.

October 10th, 2018

I have done several tests, all of them have failed. Given the ambiguity of the procedure described by Vitruvius, it is very complex to know what the exact proportion of each of the parts is. All tests have resulted in hard blocks of dark or pastel teal color, or have even melted to the point of becoming a green glaze covering the walls of the crucible. So far, there is nothing that tells me that I am on the right path.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

October 16th, 2018

I sent a proposal to the Nanobiotechnology laboratory of the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University explaining my intention to recover this material and its possible applications. Professor Alis Mateus, director of the laboratory, has been very interested and is willing to put the laboratory infrastructure at the disposal of my research.

October 20th, 2018

I put the first samples today. With the laboratory infrastructure it is easier for me to control each sample with small proportions. I can now prepare several samples each time and rule out incorrect proportions.

These first samples began with a meticulous maceration of the Egyptian sand which, according to Vitruvius himself, had to be reduced to a "fine flour-like powder", cream-white in color, which had to be mixed with Cyprus bronze filings. and other components.

November 15th, 2018

I still can't get a satisfactory sample, although I feel like I'm getting closer. I keep taking blind steps but at least now I feel that I can function a little better in this environment. I am a little impatient with the fact that each group of samples takes about 36 hours to complete, which is very limiting. I've had to carry out the process in a very organized way, I don't usually work like this.

One of my most significant findings so far has been a modification in the copper contributor. Vitruvius, who wrote the recipe in Rome after almost 3,000 years since the invention of the pigment - when it had probably already undergone some modifications - describes it using bronze from Cyprus as a copper contributor. In my experiments I did some tests with this compound but did not achieve any satisfactory color results so I preferred more traditional options: malachite (copper carbonate) and copper oxide, the copper contributors originally used in Egypt.

With each group of samples, I have learned to discern the effects that changing the proportions of each reagent have on the final product. Too much sand produces a very white powder, too much copper turns it green, too much natron results in a very hard vitreous mass, too much calcium and it ends up transformed into a stone. From each sample I learn. Something that I have seen and that worries me a bit is that, with variations as small as 1% in some of the components the result is very different, in such a way that I have to rule out many variations to make sure not to leave one without experimenting. It is like looking for a combination of a safe in which there are 4 numbers but also each one has 30 different color possibilities, in order to open it I must rule out all the possibilities and I can only rehearse a few every two days.

So far the most satisfactory sample that I have obtained is quite similar to a talc in consistency, it is blue, a very beautiful blue, but it seems to me that it is a little unsaturated for what I had in mind. I wonder if that is already the pigment or if I can get something more vivid. When moistened it maintains the same, it does not darken or lighten. I have reviewed the photos I took of the walls and ceilings in Egyptian temples and it seems to me that the pigment should be more saturated and darker.

January 20th, 2019

Eureka! After a long period of failed tests I finally managed to replicate the formula for the preparation of the Egyptian blue pigment.

I finally managed to figure out the correct proportion of the four components. But one of the biggest advances in the research was being able to break down the components of the sand from the Egyptian desert, in such a way that now I can prepare a greater volume of the pigment without having to depend on that sand. However, as long as possible, I will continue to use the sand. There is something that I consider important about the fact that the primary material comes from there. It is impossible for me to describe in words the emotion I felt after carrying out all these tests and, finally, taking the crucible out of the furnace and finding that black mud transmuted into a deep and crystalline blue, the materialization of the primordial waters and the heavens - all an alchemical work.

 

At this moment I am invaded by an incalculable emotion. I imagine that Eugene Cernan must have felt something similar when he walked on the moon (on a much more humble scale of course). I am walking on the footsteps of others, footsteps that have become almost impossible to trace through the centuries, but that are still there, albeit faintly imprinted on the surface of history. Bernard de Chartres wrote that "we are like dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, and therefore we can see farther. This is not due to the precision of our vision, nor because of the stature of our bodies, but because we are lifted and therefore elevated by the magnitude of the giants. "


I find it incredibly alchemical that a mixture of 4 materials, which make up a black mud, come out of the oven, after 36 hours, transmuted into such a deep sky blue colored substance. One minute less does not produce the reaction.

This exact pigment is the same one that was used by Greek, Roman, Sumerian and originally Egyptian initiates. All the blue paintings made in tombs and temples by ancient priests maintain their color after thousands of years, even after receiving the inclemency of the sun and the sandy wind of the Sahara.

I am sure that this pigment, due to its material qualities, through its perceptual effect, can produce some real consequence in subjective consciousness and now I plan to experiment and hopefully verify this.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

February 15th, 2019

Using the pigment that I have managed to produce, I carried out some tests to see how viable it is to make sculptures. The tests involve macerating the pigment to a very fine grain, then compacting it with water and annealing it at the same temperature and for the same amount of time necessary to prepare it in the first place. The results are very promising, I will do some mold testing in the future.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

March 25th, 2019

Now that I have figured out the formula, I have been able to take some time to study other aspects of the pigment. I have recently discovered that the resulting material is actually an artificial quartz. The technical name is Cuprorivaite, the chemical formula is CaCuSi4O10. This type of quartz occurs in nature but very scarcely and does not usually exceed measurements of a around 5mm. The material result is the same (even in chemical terms), although in the pigment the quartz does not exceed a fraction of a millimeter and is covered with glass clusters that help protect the quality of the pigmentation. Surely in nature pressure is an essential component for the gestation of quartz, this is an aspect that, for infrastructure reasons, I cannot replicate, although it would be very interesting to try it in the future.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

March 28th, 2019

In addition to its beauty, its symbolic content and its high preservation capacity, Egyptian blue is a pigment that, after losing its coloration, can continue to be detected even if it had only been applied in tiny portions, such as in the pupil of the eye of a huge sculpture. This is what allowed archeologists to prove that the white marble sculptures of the Greek classical period are not as we know them today, but were originally painted, after scientist Giovanni Verri photographed the sculptures of the Parthenon guarded by the British Museum. It turns out that the Egyptian blue pigment has a unique property, which is not found in any other pigment: a luminescence that can only be detected under very specific conditions and in a controlled way. This luminescence is undetectable to the naked eye, and several optical tools are required to observe it. It seems that this property can have several applications, such as in security inks or medical contrast media. That will be an important element in my research from now on.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

April 12th, 2019

With my latest findings on the physical properties of the pigment and keeping in mind my concern about the possibility that this material can produce effects on consciousness, I wonder if these links had something to do with the experience I had with the painting of Isis in Edfu, in Egypt:

"June 16th, 2017

 

[...]As I wandered with my eyes over the hieroglyphic saturated walls of the solar temple of Edfu, I found myself, at the top of one of the outer corridor walls, with an image of the goddess Isis nursing her child on her lap. This was one of the few images in relatively good condition that I could see of little Heru Pa Kraat, Horus the newborn, being suckled by his mother. From the torso of Isis's image, just below her uncovered breasts, a veil descended undulating, a thin layer of blue paint that defined the outline of her body down to her ankles. As soon as I saw the image I was absorbed in it, it was extremely familiar. I looked at her for a long time in silence and no matter where I directed my gaze, it was always pulled back towards the veil of Isis. I decided to focus on it, and as I gazed with all my attention at the thin layer of blue paint, I began to feel the surface opening up and growing wider and deeper, surrounding me and hugging me. Little by little the sounds of the swallows nesting in the gaps and fissures of the walls began to grow far away. What were once sharp and clear sounds became more and more opaque, muffled, until they disappeared completely. I found myself alone, in complete silence, the voice in my mind completely shut off. I felt weightless, without gravity, light, I felt that I was submerged in a kind of blue liquid, but without a body, my breath was very long and I could not differentiate between inhalations and exhalations. I was there for an eternal time. Then I began to feel that my heart was pounding very hard, slowly I regained the sensation of my body and the heartbeat began to spread towards my extremities, I felt it in my feet and hands, in the pit of my stomach, in my chest, in the temples but especially in the eyes, I felt that they were going to come out of their sockets, I could see the heartbeat. " (More information about this experience in my text on the symbolism of Egyptian blue).

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

August 28th, 2019

The Ministry of Culture has awarded me the Creation Grant for Emerging Artists, so that I can develop my Sol Invicto project. for this reason I must temporarily suspend my research to fully dedicate myself to that project. Once my exhibition at the Santa Clara Museum ends in February 2020, I will resume my activities.

April 10th, 2020

The quarantine has left me unable to continue the investigation for now, I will have to wait to see if at some point I can continue.

September 18th, 2020

The Canada Council for the Arts has awarded me its Research and Creation grant for the development of my research and to be able to materialize the works that will emerge from this process. The university has very restricted access to the facilities due to the pandemic, however, they have given me the opportunity to continue my research in the laboratory as long as I comply with all biosafety measures and keep my presence in the facilities limited to very strict times.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

September 22nd, 2019

Achieving a consistent and stable formula that always offers the same results has been an arduous task because it is not easy to find the raw materials commercially. I have had to learn to prepare many of them starting from other raw materials that are more easily obtained.

One of the 4 essential components in the preparation of the pigment is a copper agent. Vitruvius suggests in his recipe the use of Cyprus bronze filing, however, although I managed to prepare it, when using it as a copper agent in the mix, I never achieved a satisfactory result, as it would always end up green. My second choice was copper carbonate which would be easily available to the Egyptians by grinding malachite mineral, but this did not deliver satisfactory results either. After many tests, I concluded that the reagent that offers the best results is black copper oxide. It is consistent, since it is a component that, apart from being known and used in ancient times, is also a derivative of the previous ones.

Given that this component is available today at very high costs and in very few quantities on the market and, taking into account that on each occasion its level of purity varies (this produces completely different results each time I prepare the pigment), I have had to learn to prepare it "from scratch". This way I can control the process, the purity and the results much better.

In order to obtain my black copper oxide, I have to go through several long and somewhat tedious processes. The first thing is to prepare sodium carbonate from commercial sodium bicarbonate. Parallel to this, I must purify some copper sulfate (also known as VITRIOLO) that is easily obtained in very poor quality at a commercial level. To purify it I must dissolve, filter, and let it crystallize for a couple of weeks. Once I have the new crystallized sulfate, and the sodium carbonate ready, I dissolve them separately in different proportions of hot distilled water. When they are dissolved, I combine them in a large jar where they both react and form copper hydroxide which then, as it reacts with the carbon dioxide in the environment, will transform into copper carbonate. Once it has been transformed into copper carbonate, I must filter it, clean it of excess sodium carbonate that can affect the preparation of the pigment, and let it dry for a couple of weeks. When the carbonate is finally dry, I proceed to calcinate it to turn it into black copper oxide. Preparing a portion of black oxide takes about four weeks total. This is just 1 of the 4 components of the mixture that will end up cooking and transforming into Egyptian Blue.

What never ceases to amaze me, is the immense complexity involved in the entire process, and the fact that it was engineered more than 5 millennia ago. Among other things, one of the components of the mixture, natron, which was used in the process of mummy embalming, has a very interesting purpose: it is applied to the mixture for the sole purpose of reducing the melting temperature of the compound. Without the natron, the sand needs about 1700ºC to be able to melt, this temperature was unattainable at that time in furnaces that worked with wood and coal. With a specific proportion of natron (which acts as a fluxing salt), the required temperature is reduced to the range between 750ºC and 1000ºC. But not only that, the mixture must remain at least 24 continuous hours, sometimes up to 45 in the oven, otherwise the reaction does not occur.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue
matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

November 9th, 2020

Thanks to the support of the grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, I have finally managed to consolidate a never-failing formula and preparation method. This means I always get the same results when preparing the pigment.

I am currently working on producing a significant amount of the pigment to use as base material in my next series of paintings and sculptures.

I am also researching different methods for the grinding of the pigment and for the cleaning process, since the grain comes out quite coarse from the oven and usually has residual impurities (unreacted) from the 4 constituent components.

On the other hand, an independent publishing house, Proteo, has shown a lot of interest in the project. They have made a proposal to make an artistic publication, a limited edition that will accompany the exhibition that I will carry out with the pigment.

"You would be a fool to climb up a tree with no roots"

- Einar Selvik-.

November 27th, 2020

Yesterday was perhaps the most exciting day in my entire career... Until very recently I knew that I was preparing a blue pigment and had great hope that it was the Egyptian Blue. Yes, it is true that I recovered a recipe that was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire, and yes, that is the recipe I have been using to produce a pigment that is indeed blue and is visually identical to the one used by the Egyptians. But until now I had not been able to verify with physical evidence that my pigment was indeed th Egyptian Blue and not just a blue powder.

After tremendous research on wavelength and optical magnitudes, and thanks to the grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, I was able to get the equipment I needed. Yesterday I finally managed to observe the amazing luminescence of Egyptian blue.

Last night, while watching it glow, I had this "eureka" moment in which I realized that what I had in front of me, was a very ancient technology that was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire and, that I recovered with my own hands (all my knowledge in chemistry and physics is self-taught and empirical). Then I cried for a long time, I felt very moved and excited not only for the recovery, but also because I was finally able to prove that my blue is THE Egyptian Blue.

I recorded a video in which energy can literally be seen, manifested in infrared light radiation emitted by the pigment ball. This helps me advance my intention to prove that, due to the effect of electromagnetic radiation, color can produce real consequences in consciousness even at levels imperceptible to the human eye ...

December 15th, 2020

New evidence with the luminescence of Egyptian Blue.

The pigment does not glow in the dark, the luminescence cannot be seen with the naked eye, certain tools are required to be able to see it. I made this recording with a type of light that does not emit infrared radiation and that remains on throughout the entire video.

First I must turn the infrared sensor of my camera on, that's why the color changes to B & W. Then I put on my camera a filter that only allows the passage of a specific wave magnitude within the infrared spectrum.

Luminescence is produced by the reflection of a specific electromagnetic wave magnitude, this pigment is the only one that has this property. In the video it is perceived as white because what is being captured by the camera is pure light.

When I turn the light off, the objects disappear, because the luminescence does not happen as in the objects that glow in the dark and are charged with the light. It rather happens by reflection. In such a way that the pigment shines when irradiated, in the same way that the moon shines because it reflects the sunlight.

This particular color has a very marked
symbolic relationship with the celestial, including the moon and its link with the feminine and the maternal. In Egypt, the personification of heaven was Nut, one of the primordial maternal goddesses, always painted blue. To a large extent, it is for this reason that I have decided to link my own mother to the entire pigment production process, she has been my “left” hand in this process.


Little by little I get closer to the development of other possible uses for this luminescent property, such as in security inks and contrast media for medical applications.

December 18th, 2020

I wanted to bring a gift to a cousin in the USA and I took the opportunity to make a first sculpture test with the pigment compacted in a plaster mold. I made a piece carved in wax and then I took a mold of it in plaster, I then used the mold as matrix for the sample with the pigment. The result is very satisfactory, the piece is solid, it does not crumble, on the contrary it is quite hard. This technique has a lot of potential. On the other hand, I have been investigating the method of Egyptian faience, that will be my next challenge, to replicate that formula. These tests are to be able to make a series of sculptures that I want to make part of the project.

January 5th, 2021

I came up with an idea for a piece, something quite conceptual.

The idea stems from a series of connections that came to me this morning while I was taking a bath.

First of all, a photo I took in Egypt came to mind:

 

"June 14th, 2017

Yesterday while we were sailing on the Nile I took a photo that has intrigued me a lot. The photo I took is of what seems to be an old Coca Cola factory, I'm not sure. In any case, what caught my attention on the scene was an advertising banner, the kind that rises to the height of buildings (advertisers call them "spectacular"), it had the image of the Coca Cola logo, and it rose above a background of desert hills. The banner was very worn, something very characteristic of things in Egypt. Like everything else (architecture, ships, museums), it seemed that they had put it in the 70's and that it just froze then, although testifying its passage of time. Due to the wear of the banner, the red looked very unsaturated and was practically blended with the reddish brown of the mountains. As soon as I took the image I thought of a famous phrase: "the last Coca Cola of the desert". "

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

This morning, while I was thinking about the photo I remembered that I have in my studio a bottle of Coca Cola, one of the small ones, which to me is kind of iconic. I like it because it does not have the label colored, it rather has the letters in relief but transparent, this allows it to show on the inside, when it contains something dark, the feminine silhouette that made its design (" silouhette ") so famous.

The first thing that came to my mind was the idea of Coca Cola in the desert, and the possibility of exchanging the soda for water, in this case, for a symbolic material of water: Egyptian Blue, which is also made with desert sand. On the one hand, what would surround that last bottle: the sand, happens to be inside, but the sand is no longer ordinary sand, since it has been transmuted into a symbolic material of the waters. By poiesis, the thirst of whoever finds the last Coca Cola in the desert is no longer a physical thirst, it is allegorical for something else, something that can only be satisfied through the symbolic experience produced with that specific material, or perhaps with what that material symbolizes.

It also seems very significant to me, the fact that water, as a resource, appears contained here. This evokes a kind of "political layer", insofar as it alludes to the notion of the privatization of the natural resource based on its monetization, being precisely Coca Cola, one of the companies with the highest degree of influence in this process.

While I was thinking about these notions, I also thought of the feminine silhouette contained within the bottle. It seemed significant to me that, as a sculptural object, this bottle filled with Egyptian blue, somehow updates through contemporary popular imaginary, the idea of Venus as that which brings together the attributes of femininity (not as something fixed, established, but as a category that fluctuates and transforms with the passing of time and that also manifests itself in each epoch with different shapes). What seems more significant to me is that this is one of the archetypes that has traversed the history of sculpture, finding material expressions in each of the cultures and historical stages of humanity, being also one of the oldest forms of sculptural representation. (for exaple, the Venus of Wildendorf which is one of the best known). To a certain extent it is an icon of "the sculptural". Even more interesting is the fact that copper has been attributed to Venus as an alchemical material, and copper is an essential material in the production of the pigment.

I believe that there is a direct relationship between the exploitation and privatization of natural resources and the historical submission that exacerbated and misunderstood masculinity has imposed on the feminine until today. The relationship occurs first by symbolic analogy, and then on the physical plane.

January 6th, 2021

Last night while I was recording a video-sketch for the idea of the Coca Cola bottle, it occurred to me that "Icon" would be a good name for that work if it were to be done. The piece would not be a video, but a kind of multimedia sculpture.

The idea of ​​the "icon" refers me first to the notion of a religious image, in fact its etymological origin is: the Greek eikon that was used in religious images. I think that this notion is updated in a very marked way in some consumer products and the place we have given them in culture and in everyday life through the advertising imaginary. Coca Cola is precisely one of the brands that best characterizes the idea of ​​icon and, which also fulfills, through the image with which it has been inserted into the popular imagination, an essential function: "that of the gathering the family around the food and the fire that provides it. " To a certain extent, consumption is the religion of our era and the "saints" are the brands that define trends, those that best manage to build roots, consciously or unconsciously, in popular memory and imagination. Its icons, like the religious images of antiquity, are all those images that manage to bring them into the field of attention and ultimately provoke their consumption.

January 7th, 2021

I may not be able to make this piece, but it still wonders me as an image and all what it implies on a symbolic level. This morning I was thinking about how I would install it if I were to make it. I thought that the piece is not only about the bottle, but that it is also important to recover the possibility of building an experience in two parts. The first part is the Coca Cola bottle filled with Egyptian blue, this would be in the center of a space on something, I still don't know what. At this stage the experience is completely sculptural and I suppose that it contains (even if it is not explicitly deductible) several of the relationships that I have imagined so far. About two meters from the bottle there would be a video camera with an infrared sensor capturing the image of the bottle. The camera shows the image of the bottle but only what the non-naked eye can see, that is, the luminescence produced by the pigment. The video would be played in real time on a device one meter from the camera, this would be the second experience of the work. The light radiated by the bottle significantly enhances the notion of something religious, however, in this image the commercial charge is blurred a bit and the silhouette appears highlighted, rescuing the archetypal or mythological character of the image.

I am interested in the fact that, what is most mystical about the experience of this work, can only be experienced through a screen, I think it is a good anchor point with the idea of the myth of depth that I have been working on for a long time.

January 20th, 2021

While making the copper carbonate that I use for the preparation of the pigment, I remembered my university thesis: Opusculo Crepuscular. The work was an on-site installation, designed for a space that they gave me at the university, a kind of small apartment that consisted of 2 rooms and a room through which you entered. I thought of the installation as a single work constructed from several fragment-works, as a kind of puzzle. In it, each work-fragment constituted its own universe, that is, it could be interpreted by itself, however, by inserting them all in the context of that installation, by interaction, they began to build together a kind of narrative that could constitute a broader interpretation.

On a large scale the installation was an appropriation and reinterpretation of the myth of Oedipus. In it, I gave a significant twist to the original myth, taking as stand point the way in which the archetype had been deformed in my own vital context. The installation worked on several planes, primarily two: one symbolic that was built from a visual narrative that guided the viewer; and a material one, in which the installation functioned as a machine that transmuted its constituent material: copper.

 

The machine had an essential purpose: to revive Jocasta, who in the case of my myth had been nearly murdered by the hands of her son, who left her half dead in her bed. In my story, years after the incident, Oedipus returned to the painful place and found Jocasta in a kind of vegetative state, neither dead nor alive, covered with a green crust that preserved her inside. Wanting to redeem himself, Oedipus decided to return her life to Jocasta, seeing her no longer as her suitor, but as her son. For this purpose, Oedipus built a material-symbolic machine through which he could perform the feat.

Although I still treasure that project with great affection, today I see it with great tenderness and love, the same way a child is seen, who plays and invites us to enter a world that he has created and that we cannot see. For me, this work is the work of a child who seeks to heal, still immature but full of will and conviction.

 

Some time ago a sibyl told me that it would be so.

What caught my attention was that, yesterday, while I was preparing the carbonate, the image of one of the central pieces of the installation suddenly came to my mind (in the paranoid-critical style of Dalí), one that I titled Yocasta. The piece was a material painting made from copper plate that I buried underground for two months. When recovered, the sheet had some clods of black earth and, underneath, a green crust that covered the copper. That crust was a natural formation of the same carbonate that today I prepare to convert into black oxide of copper.

In the installation, copper played a leading role, and at that time I used it as a catalyst for symbolic and energetic charges in a conscious way. Copper has been the material assigned to Venus since ancient times and in that it has an unbreakable link with the feminine and the maternal (Jocasta is the mother of Oedipus). On the other hand, the daily use of the material was very important to me, in everyday life copper is used as a conductor of electrical or thermal energy. I find it significative that in the case of the pigment, copper was not an intentional choice in the sense of its symbolic or energetic implications, but because it is the only material that, combined with the other 3 parts, produces the blue pigmentation and was already in the original recipe. In this case I came to copper after having decided to make the pigment, I did not choose it intentionally, but I think it still holds its symbolic implications, and its conductive properties.

Thinking about that installation and the curious links that are manifested with the pigment, such as the fact that both have in one way or another a link with the archetype of motherhood, it occurred to me that possibly all this drive to recover the Egyptian Blue pigment could, in some way, be a kind of transmutation of the process that began in 2014. In the process, the nucleus has been displaced or rather, it has matured (something alchemists refer to as the green lion that devours the sun and that transforms into the red lion), the drive is no longer centered on a revival of Jocasta or what this might suggest as a literal interpretation, because that process has already taken place, thanks to art, accompanied by a catharsis. The current process is more esoteric in the sense of the archetype, which for me means a transcendence from the earthly manifestation of the mother (the literal) to the idea of ​​the heavenly mother (the esoteric) and the mystical implications that may derive from it .

For me, all artistic processes and consequently the works that derive from them, are crystallizations of inner states of being.

In the celestial mother birth, life, an death are given to the sun.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

January 21, 2021

A few weeks ago, thinking about the idea of water and its relationship with pigment, a very beautiful image came to mind, much more experiential, less rational than what I usually do. I have decided not to saturate that image with words and relationships.

 

The idea is very simple, it is a kind of installation, a river made with pigment, "scattered in space". I had thought of it as a stripe, meandering in space that may or may not be crossed over (like a river that cuts two bodies of land), I have not decided yet. The river would flow from one wall of space to another, where it would meet, on both sides, large format paintings done with Egyptian blue.

Last night I told someone about this image and he mentioned a piece by Giovanni Anselmo that was exhibited in Medellín at the (inter)national salon in Medellín (2013). The piece is called The Path Across the Sea (1992-2013). This piece refers me to the biblical story of Moses' parting of the waters of the Red Sea. In the work, a path of red earth cuts through the exhibition space near a corner, crossing it from one point on one wall to another on another wall. At each of the points, the trail meets a thin and small painting made with ultramarine blue.

I do not remember having seen this work before, however, the relationship and the oppositional character that exists between the two at a conceptual level seems to me as very beautiful.

Something that excites me a lot is the possibility of seeing my installation through infrared video, in such a way that I imagine that the space must be darkened and the piece will have focused light. The idea of this "river" of Egyptian Blue waters, evokes on me the image of the milky way as described by ancestral traditions.

 

I think that any work that I make with the pigment must necessarily have a way of being seen through infrared, since that is an important and exclusive element of the pigment.

anselmo.jpg

February 6th, 2021

Lately I have been intrigued by the strong cultural relationship associated to the color blue and medicine. In Tibet there is a Buddha called the Medicine Buddha, Bhaiṣajyaguru. This Buddha is represented with blue skin and, holding a lapiz lazuli bowl, a stone that is often attributed with healing properties. Interestingly, Egyptian Blue was known in Egypt as ḫsbḏ-ỉrjt which literally means "artificial lapiz lazuli".

The skin of that Buddha always reminds me of all the blue deities, from Amun to Shiva. It is possible that the idea of medicine is ancestrally associated with the sacred and the divine and, consequently, with a matter of purity.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

For me, the relationship of Egyptian blue and water re-emerges here, in the sense of purification and cleansing. The link between water and medicine is well known to practically all ancestral cultures. One of the most recent echoes in popular culture today of this idea can be seen in Avatar (the last airbender), it is well known that in the series (quite esoteric by the way), the water tribe has a reputation as a healer. Both the northern and southern tribes are distinguished by the blue clothes they wear.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue

February 8th, 2021

Today I made a new discovery with the Egyptian blue. It turns out that different shades of blue can be produced with the material, depending on the degree of crushing to which it is ground. The smaller the grain, the lighter the blue becomes. This is due to the fact that the material is composed mainly of glass and quartz, this desaturation of the material is something that happens in the same way when a quartz or glass of any color is crushed. The medium crush, which produces a very beautiful sky blue, is possibly the most optimal to use as a pigment, when it is moisted it recovers its saturation and turns dark again. What I must look for now is a method that allows me to moisturize the pigment and preserves its color when it dries. Encaustic seems to me the best option, although traditional fresco tests need to be done to see how it works. The thickest and darkest is the one I plan to use for the pieces that do not involve painting, because it is the one that preserves a greater material richness in the raw state.

matias quintero sepulveda, azul egipcio, egyptian blue