Artnexus Artnexus

The Visit

Solo Show
Arturo Montoto

ArtNexus #57 - Arte en Colombia #103
Jun -Aug 2005

Madrid, Spain
Casa de las Américas

Andrés Isaac Santana

Arturo Montonto¿s ¿¿La lección de pintura¿¿ is a perverse show overflowing with perceptual traps and rhetorical detours that do nothing but venerate the retinal horizon in order to alert us of the problems of representation, the carnival of referentiality, the illusory mechanisms for the construction of truth, and the run-down state of academic doxa. This show, and Montonto¿s work as a whole, brings back the often tainted resource of evocation to Cuban art, the somewhat lost possibility of astonishment, and the rescuing of an instant of beauty that the critical, protest-like spirit of many of his homologues had forced into passing away, by virtue of an unbridled abuse of the sociological well and its many contextual derivations.

Undoubtedly, La lección de pintura signifies a point of inflection and a detour from the narrative woven by his previous work. Those absolutely sensual landscapes, where sensuality itself enjoyed the privileges of a protagonic role are behind it. Now, the sensual delicateness and the eroticism of the line, alongside the luminous handling of a certain baroque neutrality, allow for a cultural interpretation that goes beyond the scene of the representation. Where before there was a pretexted allegory, referentiality usurped by virtue of a transgressive insubordination, these now acquire the character of rotund metaphors of the delusions that occur in the risk-ridden world of art and life. Far-reaching, ontologically vast meditations, a demotion of axiological a prioris that have qualified artists from a Western perspective, and outlaw mixings and investitures of the canonical, are some of the conceptual directions that before were barely sketched and now have emancipated as figures and discursive resources.

It is nowhere but in the ellipse, in the sinuosity of his tone, and the strident epiphany of the trope, that Montonto¿s works continue to find a way to have the taciturn silence of beauty coincide with the smart, neat pertinence of concepts. The works on exhibit articulate suggestive discourses about aspects of the culture and the illusory sense of all representation, something that is strategically reinforced by the choosing of titles that act as allusive indicators and vectors for the stimulation of thought. The titles mobilize a zone of high philosophical density where the agony and dissatisfaction of the scriptural universe is corroborated as it attempts to explain the very nature of painting (of the image.) An effort that, faced with Montonto¿s oeuvre, constitutes a pleasure and a privilege, inasmuch as there seems to be no escape from trope-ology in his painting.

All the pieces in this show overflow their own representative universe in order to posit themselves as texts that summarize and unveil the nature of several topics debated today in the realm of cultural theory. One of them occurs to me as the most sophisticated and resolved emblem of this proposal: La autosustentación del canon. This work is not only sufficient in itself to find an unsettling chain of allegories, but is also capable of acting as a cipher for the ultimate meaning of the whole show. Three are the elements that, in their dialog, unbind and excite the most fevered speculation ¿two whose nature is textual, a third one iconographical¿: the title, the word Onanismo inscribed graffiti-like on the wall, and the puppet image of a doll that perhaps may serve to fix the postures and poses that inspire the pictorial exercise in the laborious construction of the canon, of the ideal subject to continued emulations. These three registries, set in dialog, are able to generate discourses about precariousness, impertinence, and abandonment of the academic model, the paradoxes of legitimating narratives and the eternal crisis of every artistic and cultural platform that, in its onanistic, self-pleasuring act, becomes a repressive regime and barren doctrine.

With these ruses, Montonto¿s work is able to negotiate one of the conflicts where not a few contemporary artists lay down their arms. His is a proposal that knows how to put into play the mechanisms of seduction through the retina, but, and here in part resides its greatness, one that is also able to locate the complacency of the retina in a conceptual surface capable of stimulating an epistemological shift.

Capable then of mobilizing the coarsest and the most sublime needs of taste, the artist starts on the path of a winking mockery. La lección de pintura is a true roundup for dilettante gazes and conservative critics. The works on exhibit attempt to trick us under truth criteria that want to convince us of the physical existence of the sources, when we all now that it all comes down to and expands the misleading versatility of simulacrum as an insinuation of doubt. It is in the textual palimpsest of the History of Art where the existence of these sources, which can be many or none, is presumed, since the artist operates through an appropriation of the aura and the style, more than of the fragment or the accident of any one concrete detail. For this reason, La lección de pintura will remain as a testament (and here the term is pertinent,) as an exercise in dislocation, of conceptual play and maneuver regarding the structures of critical discourse, upon which many of us will have to return after learning the lesson that all fixity, all representation, is evanescent, uncertain, delusion and catharsis of doubt.




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