September 10, 2019

AIRCAT 2019: Alberto's Baptism

I'm not sure what to call what Alberto Barcia did this summer. Yes, he certainly painted paintings. But he also has this tendency to... perform?

Well, it's not a performance per se, since there wasn't an audience to bounce off of. We were out on the cleft of Cap Tossa (see the pop up image below). Alberto and I swam out in snorkel gear, towing one of Alberto's paintings on a raft. Gerry and Avi paddled out in a kayak. Gerry was kitted out in his camera gear and I had my GoPro on a stick, the objective was to document a baptism. Less than a theatrical performance and more of an immersion into the world (and a church, btw?) both literal and figurative.

This assumes that painting was considered as not to be in the world prior to "baptism" and this would be correct, given the prevalence -to this day- of the "death of painting" meme*. But maybe I'm projecting here? More probably, Alberto wasn't addressing, wasn't immersing his painting into the world at large, but into the very specific world of Tossa de Mar. He certainly called his action a baptism, but perhaps he was instead "having sex" with his home town... in a manner of speaking? He does love his home, as all real Tossenç** do.

But it is interesting to consider that Alberto is a painter who performs blends his painting with the world, in a way that he is scrubbing the world, scrubbing his community with his painting. At the same time, he is impregnating his canvas with littoral spawn? the world. It's interesting to consider that he does this after the painting is finished. It's more of an "After-Action Painting" and not so much like a Bob Ross (on the gross end) or Paul McCarthy's seminal wall slathers of motor-oiled tarps (the high end, if you're keeping track), which were not only distanced parodies but also are productions of painting meant to be captured on camera, which is an ultimate artwork disseminated in a medium other than painting itself. Check out one of his early pieces/performances.

This means that there is a bracketing going on, a posterior and anterior art-making phenomena which is containing... what, exactly? Is the artist in this situation simply a transitive feature, present yet invisible like gravity? And what does this mean for painting, if the medium of painting is alive and more than a prop in a staged play? Robert Irwin famously included the surrounding context of painting in calibrated progressive stages until painting was disposable. The context didn't need painting anymore. Art always has the ambition to mimic the world - "Va por culo, pintura!" Remember mimesis and Plato's diminution of it? The world is always more interesting than art. So plays the function of the frame -in all of its dimensions- in order to protect art. In other words, life trumps art but we need art art to navigate life. Remember the final scene of Seeing is forgetting...", where Bob drives down the famous California five freeway in an old Cadillac with not much more than a box of cassettes and a brand new MacArthur Genius grant? Like that.

Or alternatively, is the aura of the spotlight enlarged to include the brackets themselves? Beware the Inverse Square Law, lest the the intensity of attention becomes too attenuated. Art history had pissed on the aura enough times in the recent past, to the danger of extinguishing its fire. Pneumatic emanations such as this tend not to be appreciated by and large, until they are lost.

Cautionary notes aside, Alberto is an ardent painter who has calibrated, consciously or not, the liquidity of his medium to correspond to the lipid thickness of the Mediterranean. Alberto, the painter, is what in Spanish is called "goloso". Translated literally into English as "sweet tooth". The meaning of this word bridges "gluttonous" and "gourmand", another transitive identity that ties quite differing extents, a problematic distinction that fits Alberto very well. Remember, all artists wrestle with problems of one kind or another.


1. Search within this blog for the extended argument, if you are curious to learn more. And...
2. If this track tires and exasperates you, let me suggest that you are not sufficiently critical of the array of ideas that had brought not only the art world low (re: Zombie-ism, the impotency of criticism, the trend to regard art as a fungible asset) but culture in the fullest spectrum of expression. The 20th century is STILL slouching to extinction and the 21st has yet to be born.

Tossenç, this is the name for a homeboy or homegirl of Tossa.



Posted by Dennis at September 10, 2019 4:37 PM

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