Gods and Monsters - An interview with Marina Vargas

By Rajesh Punj - Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Gods and Monsters - An interview with Marina Vargas

For Spanish artist Marina Vargas, Bourgeois’ creative candidness has proved a heady elixir for the manner in which the French artist treated the greatest torment of all, death itself. By which Vargas appears devotionally driven to critique the industries of our energy whilst we are alive. Beauty, instinct, violence and faith, as well as “the symbolic, the mythological, the sacred, and the religious, belong to that visible, invisible world.”

Gods and Monsters - An interview with Marina Vargas

Artist Louise Bourgeois said of her suspended objects in space, that they were about the “fear of falling,” admitting “horizontality is a desire to give up, to sleep, verticality is an attempt to escape. Hanging and floating are states of ambivalence.” For Spanish artist Marina Vargas, Bourgeois’ creative candidness has proved a heady elixir for the manner in which the French artist treated the greatest torment of all, death itself. By which Vargas appears devotionally driven to critique the industries of our energy whilst we are alive. Beauty, instinct, violence and faith, as well as “the symbolic, the mythological, the sacred, and the religious, belong to that visible, invisible world.” As the physical affairs of our lives are absorbed as much by the imposition of an act of violence, as our unflinching faith for gods and monsters. Critically everything for Vargas comes as a perverse consequence of our dedication and ultimate devotion to life, as our encounters with ‘sleep’ or death are manifest through our engrossment of human magnificence, malevolence and everything sacred. ...

Artdependence Magazine: For an audience less familiar with your work, can you begin by explaining and exploring the principles of your practice?

Marina Vargas: The main principle of my work is to move people, in order to feel moved myself and to move others. I think this is a vital driving force not only in art but life. With my work I seek to unsettle, to create a state of convulsion, a subconscious emotional parenthesis. As death is only a metaphor, for example in Latin cadaver means to fall. ...

AD: You have shown in Madrid and have plans for New York, what works do you envisage for the US? 

MV: Yes I just had a solo one at CAC, (the Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga), and I will take part in Volta, New York City, with Ge gallery, Mexico. For which I plan to take some pieces that are very representative of the works I exhibited in Malaga: Ni animal ni tampoco Ángel (Neither animal nor Angel). Specifically I will take three pieces that are closely linked to and very representative of the Malaga project. In a certain way the driving force of this project is to pick apart and question the classical canon of beauty. To bring the inside out and the outside in as if the sculpture itself was returning to its original matter. Creating a new idea of anatomy that is closer to a more primitive concept, thus relating the titles of the sculptures. With the concept of the body that Paracelsus had, of an internal relationship between the material and animal body; and of the astral body and the luminous and insurgent body. Among all the pieces in the project there is one that epitomises the meaning of the exhibition.

It is a self-portrait where I embrace one of the most enigmatic images in the history or art: the Belvedere Torso. This image arises as a gesture of reconciliation with the concept of female nudity in classical culture. Because as we know female nudity started to appear later on and in a more demure way. Relating to antiquity when women would either decide to dedicate themselves to art modelled in male artist workshops, or attend a convent to fully dedicate themselves to their mission. This work whose title completes the piece the model and the artist is a gesture of poetic reconciliation and vindication. A fragile gesture that emerges with force.

Ni Animal ni tampoco Angel, 2015 (Nor Animal, neither Angel), CAC Museum Malaga. Photograph courtesy of: Jose Luis Gutierrez

My subsequent intervention of the sculpture results from this performance photo: Belvedere (Liquid gold) was as a result of my bodily relationship with the sculpture. And it is therefore that the polyurethane flows like an amatory liquid that permeates the torso. The association with Paracelsus’ term (liquid gold) comes to mean the supreme elixir of life that transforms the human body. I am not an animal nor an angel, but I favour a dialogue between opposites, although I am drawn more by passion (pathos) than by rules (ethos). The result of my work is of balancing these dualities; because as writer and anarchist André Breton said “beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all”. ...

The full interview is available in our printed version (Artdependence Magazine #3, 2/2016).

Rajesh Punj is a London based art critic, correspondent and curator. His academic background is in European and American art history and curating from Warwick University, and Goldsmiths College respectively. He has a special interest in Asia and the Middle East, and is currently correlating a volume of selected interviews with leading international artists, designers, photographers, and gallerists from India, due for publication in 2016. He is looking towards expanding this project to writing related volumes on the Middle East and China. He is regularly commissioned by international publications, including Art Paper (Beirut), ARC (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), sedition (London), Art Zip (Beijing), Flash Art International (Milan), and Asian Art newspaper (London). He has written extensively on emerging markets, and has curated shows internationally. He has previously worked with artists Andrea Zittel (USA), Anish Kapoor, (UK), Monica Bonvicini, (ITA), David Goldblatt (SA), Simon Patterson, (UK), Julian Opie, (UK), and Jake and Dinos Chapman, (UK), more recently interviewing Fiona Banner (UK), Richard Jackson (USA), Liu Xiaodong (PRC), and Dayanita Singh (IND).

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Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

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