enrique marty

 


1.

The aim of MUTANTE, an exhibition featuring the work of artists born or living in Spain, is to present a way of understanding painting based on the transformation of the pictorial genre. Its main thesis arises from the observation that painting, in spite of its successive Painting’s Got Talent editions, completely commercial in nature, does not longer occupy a central, solid position in contemporary art, and has been displaced by other, more recent, disciplines such as video art, photography or installation. Painting has become vulnerable, fragile; however, this questioning, far from weakening the pictorial practice, has acted as a spur to change and development. Artists have found themselves in a problematic situation, trying to reconcile their wishes to paint with questions as disturbing as ‘What’s the point of painting in the current times?’ or ‘Is painting an apropriate medium to tackle present-day issues?’

Of course. I think that, in reality, the medium we use is irrelevant. The whole of my work is, actually, an investigation and meditation on that. That’s why I am constantly changing between media. In fact, I believe art is not necessarily a painting or a sculpture. It uses those media in some way, but it IS not those media. Anyway, I also wonder whether the novelty of media such as photography, installation and so on is real. These are media that have been here for a long time now. I honestly consider the Parthenon or the Vatican to be installations.

 

2.

Along the last hundred years, painting has been declared dead in different moments, for different reasons: for creating illusions, for its association to the market system, for not being a support for ideas but offering only sensations… In the last decade, after the emergence of the trans-avant-garde of the eighties, those attitudes reappeared. One of the arguments put forward against painting is that it is overladen with cultural connotations. According to that idea, coming from an hegemonic position in the art hierarchy, it would not be able to free itself from the associations implied in that position: authority, property; and this situation would demarcate a defined, closed aesthetic field which imposes certain formal and conceptual limits. These would be transmitted in an unconscious, insidious way: without us being aware of it, we would paint with inherited procedures and aesthetics, so divesting the medium of its ability to surprise, of its possibilities of renewal. Since this argument is of cultural order and does not make any reference to the material conditions of the pictorial realm, it becomes invalid as soon as painting gets rid of those connotations. In order to achieve that, the contemporary artist must be able to dismantle that hierarchy, working with painting on an equal footing with the other artistic devices. This is the reason why the model of the multimedia artist is so important: because it dissolves the structure of artistic genres and its potential hierarchical classification.

 

Painting is, thus, suitable as long as we consider it as one more medium, not as an end in itself. The artists taking part in this show do not consider painting as a central motif of their creative thinking, they do not work in a strictly pictorial field, they do not advocate the essentiality of the genre (in fact, most of them work simultaneously in other artistic territories). They are artists that use painting, like photography or video, for a specific purpose, based on its physical, visual and cultural qualities. Therefore, we are not dealing here with an issue of techniques or formats, but one of attitude.

 

In this sense, this exhibition also aims at contributing to the creation of a normalised landscape, where painting is understood as one more aesthetic and technical option among the set of devices of contemporary art. It is partly for this reason that the show is strictly limited to the pictorial genre (albeit understanding it in the broader contemporary sense) and avoids the usual strategy of modernising a painting show including a few videos, some installations and a lot of photographs.

This question certainly contains my previous answer. Actually, it is true that painting has a huge historical background that photography, for instance, does not yet have. But I wonder what will happen in the distant future.

In one chapter of the TV series Futurama, set in the year 3000, one of the main characters takes his girlfriend, who had been frozen in the 20th century and woke up in the 30th, to MOMA. There they visit an exhibition showing the latest art trend in the year 3000: tatoos on fat guys’ bellies. I think it’s a great joke.

 

In the book Do androids dream of electric sheep? by K Dick, two characters go to MOMA to see the most succesful show of the time, Edward Munch. Curiously enough, there is a Munch exhibition at the MOMA right now.

 

 

3.

The problem of the media is related to another reproof the painting has repeatedly received: the genre is critised for its statism, its stable configuration, its physicality. According to this idea, these inherent qualities of painting make it unfit as a vehicle for certain features of contemporary reality —fragmentary, changing or virtual aspects—, such as electronic media or information networks. My proposal rejects the dual polarization of aesthetic notions: material versus virtual, immediate versus mediated, static versus temporary..., with which one or another artistic genre is often simplisticly described. Just like a film can convey impressions of immobility and materiality (let us think, for instance, of the materic qualities and the contemplative tempo in Tarkovsky’s cinema), a static and material medium, such as painting, can also be used to allude to transient and inmaterial realities. Thus, the paintings shown in this exhibition are not presented as an alternative to technological media or temporary arts but rather as a dialogue with both, with all media integrated in a space interwoven with cultural relationships.

I think of painting simply as hand-made images, but I believe that a painting, when it is real art, is not static. On the contrary. On a recent conversation with a friend, I mentioned that everytime I go to El Prado Museum, there is a visit I must pay: Portrait of a Woman, by Andrea del Sarto. It is a small, dark painting, which simply reproduces a woman whose identity is unknown. For me, there is no greatest work.

 

 

 

4.

The piece of art is created through a transaction, an exchange with its artistic and cultural environment; it is not an inner-directed, silent work, but rather an extrovert, sometimes noisy one. The presence of design, illustration, advertisement, television, photography, cinema, installation, architecture and so on is as implicit in this show as explicit is that of painting.

An example: the exhibition set up shows clearly that the development of installation art has been a decisive factor in the change of the way painting is hanged and perceived.

As a consequence, heterogeneity, hybridization and mixture, being as they are ideas, attitudes and cultural practices characteristic of our times, are also present in these paintings. Styles are freely juxtaposed and superimposed, images are appropriated, manipulated and returned to the public sphere, while concepts are reutilised, recycled, in the continuous post-production process described by Nicolas Bourriaud.

This makes me think of the way most of Caravaggio’s oeuvre, which remains in the places it was originally painted for, has to be seen. When after walking around Rome, one finds The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus and The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, hanging not far from each other in two side chapels, the impression you have is that you are viewing an installation. Two masterpieces by Caravaggio almost hidden, that’s pure audacity. I mean it, very daring...

 

 

5.

This way of understanding painting is part of the new model of artistic dynamics implied in my proposal, based on the idea of mutation. Mutation is a random process of genetic transformation which allows the evolution of species through environmental adaptation. The advance dynamics of the avant-garde ends with the advent of post-modernism, when all possibility of progression in art is denied. Contrary to this idea, the metaphor of a mutant art states the possibility of change. However, it is not an autonomous change, of an idealistic and utopic nature, as that of the avant-gardes, but an evolution linked to the inevitable transformation of society. Painting, as a mutant entity, both develops strategies of adaptation to an equally dynamic context and is able to contribute to the transformation of that environment.

In Carpenter’s The Thing, the invader is a constantly mutating being, that is, a mutant that doesn’t stop changing radically for a single moment of his existence. It has the ability to turn into anyone or anything and divide itself into several autonomous parts with their own intelligence. It is like a huge cell that approaches you disguised as your best friend and, as soon as it catches you unawares, swallows you up too. I like to think of a dangerous and ravenous painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARTISTS

 

 

Pablo Alonso (Gijón, 1969)

Nono Bandera (Málaga, 1958)

Toño Barreiro (Zamora, 1965)

Bosco Caride (Vigo, 1963)

Salvador Cidrás (Vigo, 1968)

Arancha Goyeneche (Cantabria, 1968)

Enrique Marty (Salamanca, 1969)

Din Matamoro (Vigo, 1958)

Teresa Moro (Madrid, 1970)

Manu Muniategiandikoetxea (Bergara, 1966)

Marina Núñez (Palencia, 1966)

Nuria (Madrid) y Eltono (París)

Juan Rivas (Pontevedra, 1974)

Simeón Saiz Ruiz (Cuenca, 1956)

Teo Soriano (Mérida, 1963)

Daniel Verbis (León, 1968)


· Mutant, Ignacio Pérez-Jofre

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Published in catalog "Pintura Mutante", Museo MARCO, Vigo, España (2010).