Imitations, Taxidermy, Archaeology and Autopsies.

From the renaisance, the moment when Art is considered as such for the first time in history, until the end of the 19th century, the boundaries of Art coincided fully with those of painting and sculpture.

The 20th century showed that this notion was maintained by a series of conventions which as an argument with which to define Art proved enourmously fragile. New rules of play were put forward aimed at making this the central theme of investigation.

It is easy to imagine that for many of the period´s lovers of Art it was impossible to understand this process, and inevitable that it should be interpreted as the extravagance of a few frivolous youths rather than a revolution which aimed to renew the objectives of painting and sculpture and which in the end proved to be of enormous importance for the development of the idea of Art.

Those unable to comprehend these upheavals predicted a short life for this kind of practice and a return to the parameters of the Academy and with it the proper development of Art´s destiny. Time would show how wrong those of this opinion were, just as it would prove that when Art takes a step forward, there is no turning back

The questioning of the conventions mentioned above meant that during the first seventy years of the Twentieth century, the guiding line of artistic practices was a search for a definition of Art as well as a challenge to its limits, which time and time again yielded before each new barrage.However, with every new conquest, these limits would once again coincide with those of the reigning disciplines of the period.

Painting and sculpture began the search for their essential identities by identifying the definition of Art as that of the purity of the disciplines. But at the start of the sixties they reached the end of their possibilities, it could be seen that this limits too was yielding... Art continued on its path, not in the least concerned for the destiny of painting or sculpture.

However, once again there was incredulity amongst the artistic collective and in each pictorial movement which emerged, people believed they were seeing the catalyst for a new narrative of the kind of epic proportions painting had been enjoying for six hundred years. This was another illusion; it was still impossible for many to assimilate the new stage upon which the artistic disciplines would have to move from now on.

From the moment the Pop movement, greatly indebted to Duchamp´s audacity(1), proposed objects indiscernible from reality as artistic possibilities, things were never the same for Art.

From this moment onwards, the definition of Art included the possibility that an object offered for aesthetic appreciation didn´t necessarily have to have any physical characteristics that set it apart from an identical object that was not Art. Or to put it another way, it was no longer necessary, in order for something considered valid as artistic, that it be a piece of painting or sculpture; anything could be Art.

For painting in particular, the change was noticeabily more traumatic than that which had ocurred at the begining of the century, as up to that point it had been the lead actor. This was not the role which awaited it in the period that was to come, that is, one possibility among countless others. Butpainting was also one of the only disciplines for which tradition could be seen as a burden. For the first time in history, Art threatened to make the discipline which had asked most questions about its nature redundant. The issue of whether there was any sense in continuing to paint became a pressing one.

In my opinion, in the current situation whether we continue to paint or not is absolutely irrelevant, but should we choose this option (as legitime as any other) and try to create a pictorial work today, it is essential that we tackle it from a theoretical viewpoint in which the change of stage is taken intoaccount.

Each historical period, while opening up a range of new possibilities, seals off forever those of others, whose parameters have changed and which the new ones do not permit.

Coming to terms with the new situation was, however, a challenge for those who chose to continue and continues to be, I believe, an unavoidable question in the work of painters, one which demandsthat they take a stance on what it means to practice painting under the current circumstances.

Artistic material from other periods may of course be used in "posmodernity", but it will only be seen as contemporary Art if the attitude with which it is used is suited to this situation and no to that from which it originated.

Given that the situation is so different, creating something in it necessarily requires different attitudes.

This preamble provides the base from which I believe one can get a better idea of the direction my work is moving at the moment, as to a large extent it is not just my vision of painting´s current circumstances, but also the central theme of my work.

If we take two things to be true, firstly; that since the Renaissance we have understood painting as an artistic practice with an important pedagogical aspect, with discoveries and conclusions regarding possible ways of representing the world and about the nature of Art,and secondly; that it can no longer be understood in this way because both of those endeavours have obtained conclusions, we must therefore deduce that when we talk about contemporary painting we are thinking about something distinct to what we referred to by the same name during the previous periods. This is despite the fact that it coincides in almost every other way with some moment in painting´s history.

The absence of this once fundamental function of painting within Art is in my opinion what has again been interpreted as its demise.

It is for this reason that I choose to refer my paintings as imitation painting; because although they coincide fully with this practice, they lack any revolutionary, pedagogical or epic intentions.

Painting has said all it has been able to say in this fields and now all that is left for it is to continue (if it is the artist´s wish) as "simple" Art. That is, to gush from the artit as the materialisation of the intangible structure of his experiences and to complete the circuit provoking some other type of experience with those in tune with the message of the piece.

My intention when I undertake a new work brings to my mind that of an archaeologist who approaches the morgue of 20th century Art with the intention of carrying out an aseptic autopsy of the "corpse" of painting to extract from its remains a new kind, but this one, of course, dissected.

The materials I currently work with all come from Art´s recent history. I dig up elements of Pop Art, abstract expressionism, geometrical abstraction, minimalism, and I exhibit them on an equal plane wich deactivates the generating power of these movements.

For technical reasons, these pieces are created ccontrary to the basic principles which have always been "logical" in the creation of a painting, that is; the progression from the background to the foreground, each layer maturing as a totality in successive stages.

The peculiarity of some of the "expressionistic" elements that appear in the foreground of the images, demands the unconventional approach of including them in the first stage of the process.It is later that, with the help of the computer as an extension of the imagination, the context in which they develope is decided. At this point a clean copy can be made, more like a painting design than a painting. The physical confrontation between the artist and the canvas has disappeard. Thismythical fight has been replaced by a method that is virtual and totally aseptic. However, despitebeing created in such a hard manner, requiring so meticulous a process, the structural frameworkproves to be enormously dynamic, which from my point of view evokes the contemporary maelstrom. The total process thus becomes a direct heir to various modern vanguard movements, which are included here as if they were souvenirs.

The aseptic investigation of the "corpse" of painting with an archaeological-forensic attitude allows me to aspire to the ideal that I am creating dissected imitations of painting, without the smell that normally accompanies the decomposed remains of a stagnant tradition. Imitations that are vacuum-packed, odourless.

 

(1) Unlike Duchamp´s urinal, which as I understand it offered as artistic an object which could not at the time be considered as such, to show that thedefinition of Art that until then had been accepted as valid was sustained by conventions and not solid phylosophical arguments. In my opinion, Duchamp asked a question of enormous significance and Warhol provided an affirmation.

 

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