Inés Katzenstein

To follow the work of Fabian Marcaccio over the years is to follow an oeuvre in a state of alertness. An oeuvre that, despite abiding by a rigorous program, deliberately avoids becoming commonplace, for this would imply renouncing its critical strength and abandoning a specific form of the aesthetic-political prophesy that Marcaccio has been formulating over all these years—a prophesy at once euphoric and dark, capable of detecting some of the ways in which things and images operate in the contemporary world through the fusion of analytical painting and political images.

His oeuvre proposes two main themes of research that are imbricated or “interwoven,” to use a term related to Marcaccio’s work: the intensification of experiments with materials, supports, and forms (seeking both in the roots and in the future of painting), and the visibility of images that the artist considers paradigmatic in defining our day and age. We could say that there is an academic line of work that connects his oeuvre to the tradition of reflecting on the material conditions of painting (from Luis Felipe Noé’s experiments with pictorial supports to Robert Ryman’s obsession with brushstrokes), and a more documentary line of work that plunges into the images of contemporary terror, that blend of politics, brazenness and power we could call “porn-comedown;”[2] all these are instances of the greatest social disease that the artist chooses poring over history or in the vastness of the Internet: wrecked bodies, zombie soldiers. And yet increasingly, these two lines of interest of Marcaccio’sare mutually absorbed, corrupted, and fused to the point of becoming one and the same thing. The clearest examples of this range from Marcaccio’s now classical interpenetrations between political symbols and brushstrokes (Conjectures for a New Paint Management) to his most recent works (Analytical Rage-Paintants) of abject or wretched bodies that work sculpturally, but are produced from documentary records, with complex and sordid techniques that would seem to refer to a three-dimensional painting made from a materialization of digital impressions and siliconized parts, seams, and padding.

Nothing is as it seems, and there is no possible purity: the information regarding the hidden or superficial violence that defines us as a society stems from an increasingly dematerialized, accelerated and stupefied world in which thought has come to a standstill and bodies, according to Marcaccio, have begun to disintegrate, explode, or operate posthumously, as in the animations presenting armed skeletons. In turn, the pictorial or material developments in his work are never pure, but exist in a state of permanent contamination with problems derived from photography, video, sculpture, craftsmanship, or fashion: “Painting suffered its own crises a long time ago,” Marcaccio notes. “Pictorial space today can engage in dialogue with the crisis of photographic space or the crisis of film. The avatars of these media are mutually connected, giving rise to what I call ‘unstable compounds.’”[3] Thus, we see that “painting” and “world” are two key terms in this artist’s plight, although they have an almost archaeological value; Marcaccio’s oeuvre points out that these terms no longer exist as closed entities, but are only useful if we maintain them as broken, crossed, contaminated categories.

Marcaccio is a niche artist. Totally connected to everything, exploring a universe made up of thousands of complex sutures, in today’s art world, he is also a sort of loner, an exception: “My basic influence was the Neo-Baroque of people like Severo Sarduy, Néstor Perlongher, Arturo Carrera, and Emeterio Cerro,” he says. “In their work, what interested me most was the idea of the excess of text that makes a noise, the idea of transvestism. Other influences were Witold Gombrowicz, the way in which he connects and adds details that gradually lead to a story, which does not emerge from one point to the next, but as a meander, and Reinaldo Laddaga, with his utterly brutalized humanity, his charting of continuous disaster.”[4] These choices or affinities, their insistence on what is complex, fortuitous and exuberant, place the art work in a special predicament unfavourable to the conceptual or minimalist paradigm prevalent in contemporary art. Moreover, the links of his work with so-called bad painting as an affectation based on the shame and chagrin of taste and his preference for corporate language as an irony on the dominant system are further drawbacks that enhance its critical capacity.

The ethical perspective of these works consists in preserving and even emphasizing the complexity of the world and its relationships, a gesture that affords them their characteristic tone of urgency and apocalyptic anticipation. Marcaccio is an artist determined to analyze the present. And an artist who rightly fears it.

[1] Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, translated by Ann Smock, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (Nebraska), 1986.

[2] Literally “porno-bajón.” Luis Alberto Spinetta, in the song La bengala perdida, 1988.

[3] Conversation with the author, “Fabian Marcaccio, el taxidermista,” Otra Parte (Buenos Aires), No. 2, Autumn 2004.

[4] Idem.

Translated by Josephine Watson