A geometric figure. A barely sketched polyhedron. A mysterious structure, or perhaps not so much. Something underlying everything… And around it, as if in continuous flight, moments that try to be apprehended.
On the way home, as I look at people going by, I think about who is that person who is me writing now… Perhaps being afraid to know the truth, dismantling my fiction, I also, like everyone, conclude that I don’t want to know. What really interests me now is to get a little closer to that strange being that imagined those scenes that I can’t get out of my head. Or of my body, because in fact I am not sure where they have become lodged.
Relieved, I return to my daily space. Routine… Only the dull passing of one day to the other.
Little by little, almost unwillingly, I start to recognise myself…
However, I am not even able to get beyond the first cove, the surface of that obsession. There is always something that escapes again, that mutates and is does not state itself again.
I know, I need to rest. I close my eyes. And then the machine relaxes slowly. Now desire, my desire, your desire, makes the mesh, the plot disappear. Then, only then, do I come close to the truth at the centre, the place where representation does not exist, where there is no discourse. The place where “everything is life and lived”.(1)
Those scenes had always been there, in front of me. I just wasn’t able to see them.
1.- Antonin Artaud, “Le Pése-nerfs”, In: Oeuvres completes I, Gallimard, ParIs, 1976, (p. 112.)
Attacking face-on that complex network of relationships in which determined forms of power and knowledge give a charter to determined effects of truth and reality that shape and coerce the different manners of subjectivising the individual. To stand out as a radically hostile dispute, a bold power against the matrix of those “devices” unveiled and denounced by Foucault in works like Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, The Politics of Truth or the seminar Abnormal, and then taken up again with different nuances by other authors like Deleuze and Agamben(2). To rebel, even fleetingly, against this web of connections among institutions, rules, behaviour habits and economic, social and cultural processes which, being based on a series of discursive and non discursive practices, end up producing subjects which are complicit with the system. Subjects who confuse “being subjects” with “being subjected”, and as a consequence end up giving in to a logic that controls, shapes and determines their gestures, attitudes and behaviour…
Alain Urrutia’s artistic production is an unpremeditated act of dissidence; the result of an exercise of brutal sincerity. As much as trusting in the fact that painting might once again be a revealing discipline, a space of liberation from which one could capture those instants that are filtered through the cracks in the structure at certain moments of the relaxation of the machine.
In his work the pictorial fact always appears to be off the pedestal, subverted, devoid of that monumental and grandiloquent nature that the Fine Arts has granted it for centuries. There is neither mimesis nor celebration: in front of us there is a contingency, a self-conscious continuity restricted to the plane of the subjective and in intimate connection with memory and the particular history of the acting subject, the one who is carrying out the representation. If we can carry on calling it this, because what we see is not a single thing, but rather a multiplicity. A eterogeneous sum of vectors and forces in which the fragments do not even intend to form a whole.
Resisting over and over again to close within the act of painting. Perhaps because such a closing would suppose the end of the
questionings, the splitting of the enigma. In other words, the beginning of the enunciation, the perpetuation of the device, of the painting, of art, of the system.
Urrutia’s is, as took place in the famous analysis of the work of Francis Bacon (3), a logic of sensation, of event and of experience.
Duration as vibration of the sensitive that clings desperately to a concrete presence, determined yet never determining. Because he knows that it will go son and it could be something else. Indeed, it will never be the same again. Neither for him nor for us. Thus that part, that fragment, in each assembly, in each exhibition, may vary, alter the set, or even disappear from the scene (4).
In this order of things the experience of painting becomes something strictly physical, but also composed. An amalgam of stories, tales and individuals that cannot be thought because it is previous to all forming of language or reason: a simple encounter, an undulating physicality that gravitates around these three keys that obsess us: the figure, the sensation and the body.
And around them there is desire, always desire.
A desire that leads you to annul, according to your fixation on the surface of the painting, the details of hundreds of photographs that are neither much more casual nor much less risky, nor much less anonymous. Because only he knows the dates, the names, the places…
A desire that leads you to transform, according to the veils, the lack of focus or a very limited chromatic range — voluntarily restricted to whites, blacks and greys — the photographic original, as if he himself wished to revoke, now on the way out, the tale that any historian could build around his work. A fictitious tale, like all of them, which would take us from Raul De Keyser or Gerhard Richter to Luc Tuymans, passing through Michäel Borremans, and, who knows whether Christian Boltanski, Marlene Dumas… To start over again; but does that matter now?
A desire that takes him to voluntarily face the regime of hypervisibility generated by capitalism through the inscription of a paradox on it. The strategy is simple in a certain manner, and it starts out from the idea that the best way of breaking the network, the device, is to saturate its symbolic horizon with its own tools. In other words, to generate new trembling and palpitating signs that are superimposed, like camouflaged, over the existing ones, in order to set up critical moments in the chain of events of the contemporary visual condition. Like a rip in the eye-machine. Or perhaps better, like a tear in the mesh of that iconographic fabric that forms us and determines us as subjects.
Népomucene Lemercier said that “a word said at random would break the thread of our webs” (5). Urrutia adds to that sentence the possibility of also convoking, as part of that randomness, the phantoms of involuntary memory (6). A memory that reconciles us with our past and helps us overcome the discontinuities of our history. A sort of pictorial shock consigned to paralyse that succession of apparently ordered and regulated facts that leads us to continuously think that life, our life, follows its course normally.
Yet it might seem, and judging by what has been said, that Urrutia longed to place his artistic production on a dimension outside reality. A perhaps parallel plane, perhaps at a tangent, in which that recourse to-with-against photography would respond to a certain longing for evasion or transcendence that was prone to the development of a certain tautology of the discipline. Nothing could be further from his true purpose. Urrutia’s painting is carried out from the plane of pure immanence, and from there, clinging to the rawest reality, it is proposed as an infinite fold of emotions and intensities of a heterogeneous nature that reject any idea of unity.
However, this last statement would also need to be qualified, as the word immanence would not be synonymous here, as many people might think, of realism. Indeed, as we stated above, in Urrutia’s work the mimesis is shifted, travestied, and even becomes voluntarily obstructed in a double sense. On one side, as we have seen, through a conceptual processing of the image that flees from reality as it is understood by contemporary electronic engineers, with all that this supposes for the already known equivalence between truth and photography. On the other, through the literal appearance on the pictorial plane of elements that are an obstacle to sight and prevent the establishing of any tale around the representation.
A clear example of this latter case can be found in his treatment of the human face, which is always fragmented, interrupted by planes of colour and other objects or directly cut out, condemning the identity of the figure to a certain exile (7). And the same takes place on many occasions with the objects and other reflections, taken from who knows where.
Thus decontextualised, the original scene always remains alien to the spectator. Eluded and elided set up as a fracture. A more than possible dystopia whose only aim is to disturb, to bring the spectator to that state between-two, halfway between reality and transparency, which is the profane revelation. A hypnosis in and from the material that will also be prolonged as spatiality, going beyond the surface of the painting and of the fixation of the paint in order to directly strike at the exhibition display, in which now the scale and certain devices of visual control take on a new and perverse presence. Like torture machines taken from some landscape in our suffering imagination that make, if possible, the mechanisms that govern the eye and the gaze even more evident. They warn us that what they contain within them is dangerous. And once exposed to them nothing will be the same again.
2.- On the origins and differences between the concept of the device in the Works of Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben it is illustrating to read the essay by Luis García Fanlo: “¿Qué es un dispositivo?: Foucault, Deleuze y Agamben, [What is a Device?: Foucault, Deleuze and Agamben] A Parte Rei Revista de Filosofía, nº74, March 2011. Available on: http://serbal. pntic.mec.es/~cmunoz11/fanlo74.pdf.
3.- Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 1990.
4.- In relation to this, it is paradigmatic to observe how Alain Urrutia plays with the position and the presence/disappearance of the different paintings that form his works, which seem to be determined not only due to the exhibition
space, but also due to states of mind, sensations or intensities.
5.- Sourced in: Jean–François Chevrier, “La trama y el azar”, in: VV.AA. XIV Jornadas de Estudio de la Imagen de la Comunidad de Madrid. Una tirada de dados: sobre el azar en el arte contemporáneo, Comunidad de Madrid,2008, p. 54.
6.- “There where experience dominates in the strict sense, we witness the conjunction, at the heart of memory, between contents of individual past and contents of collective past”. Walter Benjamin, “Sur quelques thèmes baudelairiens” (1939), in: Oeuvres II, Poésie er révolution, trad. De Maurice de Gandillac, Denoël/Lettres Nouvelles, Paris, 1971, p. 230. Ibidem, p. 55.
7.- Paradigmatic examples of this would be works like Shoot First, Ask Later (2011) or Redone Brassillach, Vrouw or Judith II (2012).