• “Álvaro Díaz-Palacios in his atelier of Hamburg, 2006″

About Elephant, Juan Miguel Hernández León, President of Círculo de Bellas Artes of Madrid


1.- The limits of representation.

“Looking at me is exasperating because I am an exaggerated reflection of everything that sickens you about yourself”. This Alvaro Diaz-Palacios quote, taken from his notebook, is sufficiently expressive of the type of investment made through the captured subjectivity, up until now, by the painter.

Perhaps the “affliction” or the “wound” is not the friction border between what is received from the outside and the internal reaction?

Are these deformed bodies from the Elephant series not body marks, symptoms of a realism that betrays the fracture of origin between the being and language?

Pierre Klossowski writes :

“ The body insomuch as the body is no longer a synonym of itself: instrument of the conscience, the homonym of the person strictly comes from it. As soon as brain activity reduces, the body is only present but no longer belongs to the person and although all the reflexes that may comprise one and the same person have been saved, the personne is absent from it ”.

Personne, that is, nobody; simulacrum of something that has its origin in its own conscience and that is devoid of healing its meaning. A reflection that leads us to the realization between the autonomy of the plastic and represented code.

As these bodies present but do not re-present, they are the pure presence of an internal wound, of that scream that is frozen in the second plastic skin, even with the risk of steering towards an immediate symbolism.

It is difficult in our western tradition, – so polluted by the metaphysical – , to understand that the classical distinction between the idea-form (eidos) and the geometry of the outline (morphe) does not yet make sense in the poetic consciousness.

Art, painting, even in its most indebted tendency of imitation (of the mimesis), have had the simulacrum as a goal, those images that enjoy complete autonomy with respect to the objects that they are trying to re-present.

Because the support is the only truth here, those that Paul Valery had defined paradoxically: “The skin is the deepest”.

If the body is the language, as Klossowski maintained, this serial composition of tortured bodies does not constitute an autobiography, but rather the game of self-sacrifice, of series and repetitions, it has the aim of going beyond the icon through the simulacrum. This is because the simulacrum is essential in the understanding of modern art.

The Simulacrum is built on a difference, those that distinguish between the model and the copy that includes in itself the observer’s point of view, which is continually changing. This is transformed starting from repetition, which internalizes what is dissimilar, and, therefore, overcomes the limitations of the mimesis, that is the representation.

Simulacrum is a subversion strategy.

2.- “Not Me”

It’s not Me, or “I like New York”?

In both cases the question deals with identity.

The absence of the verb between Me and No causes an emptiness that strengthens the articulation of the meaning. In a certain way it leaves the pronoun in an ambiguous position between the object and the transitive phrase.

The I/Me is a person but does not belong to á personne. It has been materialized in a new body in the television schedule that indicates a break in broadcasting. Party is over; the digitally added text shows us that the counter is set at zero.

Has the party finished or are we all in an eternal return to origin? It must be understood that the history of art, – its specific usage in time-, is continually recommencing.

Benjamin had shown us a different way to understand the words origin and history:

“Origin (Ursprung), although this is a completely historical category, does not have anything to do with genesis. This is because, in fact, origin does not mark the evolution of what has been born but rather what is born from it to move and to evolve. Origin lies in the flow of evolution as a whirlwind, swallowing the material of the genesis as it goes”.

The idea of origin as a whirlwind brings us back to the anachronistic quality of art, where newness always refers to a new beginning.

Barnett Newman also expressed, (The Sublime is Now), this peculiarity of image with extreme precision. In it he constantly offers us as a real and concrete revelation, without the need to put on a nostalgic history hat to be to be able to understand it.

The artistic game, therefore, has not finished but is always starting. A definition of the most appropriate artistic time period is contained within this digital metaphor that is deduced from customary genealogical or philological analysis.

Madrid, May 2008.

Juan Miguel Hernández León.