THE JOURNEYMAN CYCLE(The Journeyman I : The travel,The Journeyman II: In the name of the father):The project, embodies, up to date, the artworks belonging to the two exhibitions held at FNDesigns Gallery, Al Serkal Avenue (Dubai) in 2013 and 2016. The series is developed around a masked character (the journeyman/traveler).
Style.Formally, the paintings are figurative in style. The first one was made in black and white tones, with an ocassional touch of color and mostly drawing of ink on pen; the second one a completely coloured one and mainly composed of acrylic on canvas paintings.
Theme.The first one is about travel in the mithycal sense, how it is somehow a kind of death, as you are extracted to your reality and trow into another one.
While the first exhibition works on the themes of identity, the possibility of communication, alienation and relationships, the second one focuses in the idea of communication as meaning.
Behind the exhibition there is the aim to understand and explain the reality, the world, and in explaining the world, placing oneself in it, defining it, although temporarily.
The title gives a brief definition of the theme. "In the name of the father", starts referring to an absence.
To do something in the name of somebody or something, is to appeal to the name of somebody who is not present : either is someone who is powerful enough so his/her name is invoked to justify actions, or in the other way, someone who is powerless so is needed that someone else act- like an underage heir needs a protector. So basically this title resume two types of approaches to power. Power is embedded to any relationship between persons , therefore you can be defined in the way you relate to power.
The subject of the title, the father, is, in the family the power-harnesser, and is in the family where the identity is built, where the identity is defined. The family is a system, like the society is a system, built for balance and, as said before, for the nurturing of the development of identity. But tin the real world, identities are fragmented, conflicted, unstable, products of the realities and systems that produce them. How to cope with it?.
An alternative is to built a structure to fill this vacuum, this confusion. To create or to define meaning. In fact, any attempt to define reality is that, an attempt.
Establishing names, and meaning. Therefore the idea to come with a book of meanings, a dictionary.
In that aspect, the theoric scaffolding on which the ideas for these paintings are placed is built on references of intellectuals about the construction of meaning, which is the stage previous to the moment of communication. One is Erwin Panofsky, the german academic, with his iconographic decoding, that implies an affirmative statement on the possibility of meaning in the image.
While not specifically about visual images, the theories of Umberto Eco about the multiple-but finite- interpretations of a literary work, are present in the conceptionof this work, as are the talks given by Paul Fry in his course about the hermeneutic circle, and the possibility of communication.
A brief exposition of Noam Chomsky on the possibility of knowledge are also present in vague reference in the fulcrum of this work. Communication/knowledge is possible?.
Literaries constructs are inspiration for this collection too, trough the idea of a non linear narrative. Cortazar’s Rayuela, Pavic’s Dictionary of Khazars, are samples of a story that is developed disorderly, chaotically, only to be understood and assembled meaningfully by the reader, likely with the reader’s meanings. The explanations and briefings given here are exercises in meaning-giving, important as the works themselves, which are supposed to be meaning-machines, put in motion by every viewer.
These works try to explain the urban experience of the daily life trough an imaginary world, the world of an imaginary city in the trough an analytical approach, and in doing so, reflecting in the possibility of construction of meaning from the experience of the senses, and if that is possible at all.
This serie of works presents a group of paintings and drawings depicting scenes populated with imagined masked characters in an imagined urban life, surrounded or covered by different elements that are linked some way to the process of communication and meaning. Each of the compositions reuse traditional symbols and imagery, copying it, mixing it, re-merging it to create the visual incarnation of this alternate reality that we call “the city”. The main point of “the city” is to be a place where we try to reconstruct some meanings of our reality, defining, classifying that imaginary world, giving it meaning, as we struggle to do with the real world. “The city” is also a place where the permanent search for identity takes place, the masks that most of the characters wear being a reminder that the process for identity is never completed, and like history, is in a process of constant redefinition. Because, we can ask, under which principles or guides should it be completed?. That is where the father /authority/power figure, comes, nebulously, into the realm of the overall structure where the other family figures/symbols also participate , such as mather/motherland/homeland/city . As the structure/system/city/imaginary world, designed to be in balance, is unable to reach a clear definition by the imperfect set up of one or more of its elements, the quest for meaning becomes more urgent.
Do we communicate as we want?.
The paintings and drawing are an excuse to explore the different ways we try to explain things.
In them, masked characters appear in different scenes representing the construction of the identity.
Tries to unify the experience of the storytelling in an analytic way, while keeping the pieces of the puzzle at hand.
Ultimately it is play on the experience all of us have in trying making sense of the world and the reality beyond us, trying to give a sense to our world.
First the story told in the paintings, a tale about identity, and relationships. it is an attempt to organise the world summoning the main elements that organise our life in the society. Is using the city as a unverse.
For this project, a real dictionary was written. The city as a living being. The current exhibition is an exploration in construction of meaning, where the storyteling is the initial step for understanding exposed in not one but many ways. Making a taxonomy, a categorization of the elements used in the paintings, and giving them an overall sense, what they intend to mean within their own context, and after what they can mean beyond that context, and in taht way communicating with us.
The whole exhibition is divided in subsets of paintings as in the manner of chapters in a book. Each one deals with a certain topic but at the same time is connected with other works in other subgroups.
3. PROVISIONAL DICTIONARY
The texts in the images are written not once but twice, and in the repetition , a subtle modification is made, so the ext is almost the same but not compltely. This is an allusion to our identity which while in essence being the same, is not identical at two any moments of our life.
It is inspired in a medieval miniature, this image is also designed as a front cover for the book that comprises all the images of the exhibition. This is the painting that gives the name to the exhibition, and resumes the premise on which this is built. Inspired by the medieval figure of the emperor, the power figure occupies almost theentire space, but it is headless. It is from the visual explosion at the head that all the chaos that ensues the imaginary world is originated.
3.1 Carnival and Silence
It is inspired by a use inPeru
3.2 36 Views of the city
Two are the main references here, the Brueghel painting of Icaro, and the Hokudai series of the mountain fujiyama. The number is reference to the author’s age.
This is an area where the characters are the chorus.
Fernando Sarruñaegui and Juan Ibarburuena, painters
A take on the self portrait tradition as a statement on the art of painting. This work is somehow depicted as an old-fashion illustration, black and white. The lightning is classical-from the upper side, defined edges - as well as the dramatic use of the perspective, that leads the scene to the main characters while insinuating the landscape, red and grey. The format is circular, like a traditional tondo but also as a CD. The first painter is seated in an academic self-portrait way, but the other is posed in an anticlassical way, where the hat of the front character blocks the second character face. They are painting a big canvas, where there are traces of a drawing, similar to “Provisional Dictionary”. The idea posed in this work is a questioning of the art of painting, can we paint in this old way in these days?. The painter at the front, is wearing a kind of party hat, like a clown. Two books refer to the tradition to which the painters are connected: every painter dialogues with history of art. The paint cans are modern painting cans, so every thing is not that traditional. Thus, the painting mix new and old visions on the art of painting. Also, as part of the exhibition, we can ask, if all those characters depicted in the exhibition are product of imagination, is also this vision of painting an illusory one? Why? Why not?
This is an illustration of the leit motiv of the exhibition; the mask. A small format. The face is a kind of no face. The character is not a strong defined face, but a simple one, almost an emoticon, restrained to the simplest features. Is not smiling, not sad. The idea was to built an ambiguous face, not easily decipherable.
Is a kind of joker in the overall world of The Journeyman. It has the goggles, cartesian metaphors for a reality that we can not see without mediation- of our senses, of our ideas-, and Mickey Mouse –like ears. Is looking to the sky. Is the Disney allusion a dark one?
The Soul Catcher, Head of Winds
These piece is linked to the Tarjeta de visita dyptich. It also work with the idea of a photography as soul catching. Can you aprehend with your images somethoing of the reality?
THE FOUR STAGES OF THE INNER TRANSITION OF THE IMAGINED READER
As opposed to the rst of the exhibition, these works are focused in a supposed inner world. If the rest of the exhibition is the explanation of a world, these four drawings try to descipher the inner universe of the main character, an attempt to record a probable evolution that takes the inexpressive face as a pivot from where to explode, to live and to evolve. In doing so, they are a kind of synopsis of the overall story, which is told only fragmentarily in the rest of the pieces. They are the answer also to the “Map...” which displays the structure of the outer world, the city.
Stage 1 Zombieman
This is the stage of calm ignorance, where the subject is unaware of what is coming, or what will happen.The shadow of the mask suggest this is an inanimate object hanging in a wall; the characters that appear in the other pieces are softly draw, almost inadvertently.
Stage 2 The Gordian Knot
This is the stage where something is happening. It is linked to the women portraits in someway, as it has the same motif, the mouth. Here instead of covered by a hand is covered by a band or strip. The title alludes to this legendary knot which was thought to give the dominance of the known world to the one who untied it, therefore being used as a metaphor of a key to an hard and unsolvable problem or to abig reward. Alexander solve the problem instead of trying to intie it, just cut it with his sword. Here is the mind the place were the mistery and solution could take place.
Stage 3 Splash
The inner world is released, creating random figures
Stage 4 Everywhere they are
The release of those figures or creatures creates a new reality
Map of the City, which is the Universe
Death of an Author
THE CLASSIC CYCLE
The three stages of every plot as established by Aristotle in his Poetics, the presentation, the climax, and the conclusion. The three work depict this sequence in a simplified way, but in doing so, also they refer to the idea of plot, of stroytelling construct, an idea that is linked to the general metaphor of book and meaning. As a dictionary can establish different relationships among its elements (for example: fox/sheep, bird/corn, etc) and in doing so telling a summarized plot (fox preys sheeps, bird eats corn), a story can act as a meaning giver.In some way, this cycle could therefore works as an answer or contraposition to the cycle of the “provisional dictionary...”
Track 04: The fallen (the blue and the gold)
The beginning or first act of this structure, Under an apparently heavenly background (the blue)the characters are falling. Golden stripes, related to something precious, or valuable, are surrounding them. The fall is the struggle. These characters are not in control of the situation in which they are.
Track 05: The (struggling) machineman: the song of the tumultuous waves
The main point of struggle , where the heroe appeal to the help of a machine to float and stop falling, but do that only with effort and suffering. The red color is used as a signal of this intensity.
Track 06: The floating man
The resolution of the plot, where the heroe or main character finally resolve the initial condition (falling) without any help, as is floating by his own means. The golden stripes, that ornate the previous stages are lost, and converted to a silver grey. A figure in the dark contemplates the scene, as a witness that validates the new stage of the character. That character as well as others along the exhibition, has goggles, metaphorically a mediated view.
The format of these pieces is inspired in the visit cards in vogue at the end of the 19th century. Photographs were printed in small format and given as a gift among friends and acquaintances. The formats were varied, but mostly as a card format. The two characters, male and female, are confronted in this dyptich, as sharing a common space, indicated by details such as the reflection in the camera.
Tarjeta de visita (1)
The female figure is in frontal position, with a frontal view, with a camera in her hands. As most of the female characters, the face is locked by a hand. The floating bands at the background are similar to others in the exhibition. The same can be said of the mask at her feet. She is almost static. At the back, under the title written, is a description of the city.
Tarjeta de visita (2)
This figure is the male figure.
THREE POEMS OF NOSTALGIC REMEMBRANCE AND FUTURE MEANING
These pieces define, in the overall view of the exhibition, approach to the female element of the city/universe, as linked in a traditional symbolism, patriarchal, to the domestic life, and to a passive attitude, but also to another type of power, the power of life, and in that, the female element is linked to the maternal figure as counterpart to the paternal one in the family structure. Simbolically, is also linked to the land (hence mother/land, mother /earth); not always at the forefront, this presence is crucial to the whole structure. The mouthless women are in that sense a claim, a protest against that structure but also a statement of life that trascends gender. The roles traditionally asigned to the genders are actually the extremes poles of a power relation and precisely because of that, genderless.
Track 09: Bonus track, or a tale of two masks (et in arcadia ego)
A bucolic scene, remembering us of the mortality of life. Either as a moral warning or as a meditation on life, this work speaks of life and death. At the center of the iece there is a red square with a phrase barely distinguisable : et in arcadia ego, a phrase from latin literature that remind the viewers that even in the most happiest of places, there istime to remember the fugacity of things, or, as Erwin Panofsky states in his famous essay, despite the fugacity of things, there is place for such a happiness. The scene , colorfully depicted, shows a woman, maybe in a swing (recalling Fragonard joie de vivre), but shw stares at the viewer with her eyes covered by glasses, the galsses being a way of saying what you see is always mediated, and senses are an imperfect way of grasping reality. Two mask are in the vertical axis of the circle; a gas mask at the bottom, with a cementery in the background; and the journeyman mask at the top, hanging bwhind the woman.,
Track 07: Finding meaning:
Track 08: The singer and the dog:
A reinterpretation of the lady with the armin of Leonardo
This painting shows a scene where a group of persons seated. They have machines (telephones, clocks, tv sets, incorporated into their heads.
The inspiration for these machine-dressed characters come from some titles of some chapters of a book of communication specialist Marshall McLuhan,"Understanding Media" (like "the mechanical bride") which allured me with this mix of mechanical terms and poetic words. Broadly said, Marshall Mc Luhan speaks in his work about the effect of new technologies in the life of our society.
Well, this work is basically about that, and also about the climate change, with that pink, reddish, toxic background, and that masked person in the background. About the effect of technology on our perception of reality. The characters have the head wrapped in telephones, or the eyes closed or covered by goggles.
Is reality as we perceive it? These artefacts are to me as well, representation of our failed efforts to acquire an absolute knowledge
COLOR AND SOUND
The painting was a part of an exhibition ("In the name of the father") where each of the pieces was conceived like pages illustrations of an imaginary book. This scene was conceived to represent the life as full of life and movement, portraying as well the individual in the multitude. The visual inspiration for this painting came from street photography. The person in the middle is focused while the rest of the characters are in movement. The human being in the middle of the turmoil of life.