PSYCHOMACHIA: A Critique of Ruben Carrassco's 'WASP

December 17, 2015

 

Recently I had the privilege of seeing Ruben Carrasco's newest paintings. We were only a few in the studio. A Parisienne spoke quietly with the artist, by the doorway, while I stood hand-to-mouth and played the role of someone knowledgeable. But truth be told, I'm virtually colourblind. Also, I understand the arts were more than advertisements, years ago, but now I find distinguishing between what sells the Apples and the Galaxies and what museums curators pawn off as relevant, esteemed, cultured, original, and progressive specimens of art impossible. However, from where I stood confused, though awed, I overheard Carrasco discuss his newest works, and the word 'philosophy' arose several times and this, his term, prompted this, my criticism. And though I genuinely admired both works, which, to me, besides remuneration seems the foremost objective of a creative endeavour these days, I couldn't help but feel somewhat disenchanted by the ideas Carrasco posed behind the paint. And so, without malice, I shall, but breifly, examine what Caressco's two paintings had gotten me thinking about. If I exclude Carrasco's own ideas, herein, I only strengthen what this criticism typifies: a compliment. Also, if I sound deprecative I assure you, on a closer reading, you'll find the only person being disparaged, in truth, is me towards myself. For I am neither a philosopher nor a painter nor any other practitioner of Humanity's more righteous, higher pursuits; no, I labour — and this I do begrudgingly but, from necessity, with a sincere obedience to my richer, canny superiors. Enough about me though; shall I talk Carrasco? On seeing both paintings, on the wall, I saw that neither were entitled. Not then. And so my immediate reaction was, from being a Millennial, a quick and digital search online for any random term the algorithm chose from which I might start criticizing as someone knowing, reproachful. My brain requires categories. Otherwise I can't maintain appearances. Thank God we all have smartphones. Mine knows all; it gives me categories. And so, there in the studio, after having spent more time staring at my cellphone's screen than surveying Carrasco's hardworks, I finally chanced this, this seemingly appropriate, pretentious but clever Latin term — psychomachia. Aside from being totally rich, eruditely, I also feel it compliments Carrasco's use of sculptures and this, as a category, makes me feel smart. I've already posted "The artist subdues paganism in the Psychomachia" to Twitter Two paintings hung tall against the studio's brick and mortar. At the time, while staring at what felt monumental, I forgot which era we were all immersed in; Carrasco's works felt real, true in some larger, older tradition, a couple tactile objects, each meant to be acknowledged personally — in propria persona. And, had I reached forth not more than two-and-three-quarter armlengths, I would've actually touched the canvas and then I would've felt the latex paint, long since dried, though only 'long' insofar as even as I perused, the one, Carrasco added touchups on the other. And those, his newest strokes, would be dry in less than 20 minutes. Thus, on realizing this, I felt somewhat deceived. This was an experience made mostly from illusions. Nostalgia was the experience, though even this, the nostalgia, this wasn't mine. It came from my assumptions of what the Arts ought to be. And so, suddenly, I found myself considering Carrasco's works as counterfeits. My perception of a history of art — preconceptions of value, of collectibles, antiquity, function, form — all these were being exploited, capitalized by Caressco in that moment. But there I stood, still and nauseated like some fucking fool and, despite grief (my anxiety from having been ridiculed so slyly), I nonetheless sought reconciliation, some social-networked salve against dissonance, or at at least some reason why these paintings matter. I checked my phone; no one followed me. So then, from a necessity wrought by aloneness, insecurity, or rejection, I took closer notice of what Carrasco's subjects did. Another, more serious search; this time my cellphone told me each derived from Greek mythology. Or at least the figures were of what might be Classical in origin. My cell identified Dionysus. A Centaur. Two other statues — surely gods. And though I lack the cogitative wherewithal of smarter, more learnéd people I began realizing that mythology's still relevant these days in terms of how a Metaphor gets revealed. If, as Matter is to Physics, the overall domain of Metaphor is Poetics, then Carrasco understands that no one reinvents a Metaphor; what worked, then, works now. After what I can only imagine as long, hard work — having deciphered which Metaphors are even moreso relevant these days (ones that trip Millennial's morals, our emotions) — Carrasco modernizes Mythology and so, as a tool, he blends Mythology within a trend, the palette, and these, these more abstract mixtures, these are what Carrasco strokes on canvas. I still felt dumb. Of course I did — I'd finally realized I was in the presence of a rising doyen. Carrasco knows and thus manipulates our preconceived notions of Metaphor, in its psychological sense, and this, when done by a Master like Carrasco, forces discomfort. I faced the abundant contradictions of modernity and then, to alleviate the dissonance, I re-examined my interpretations of the status quo -- our Condition. So of course I felt stupid. I'd been coerced to change. Because either I lie down, obediently, and let myself be abused by the corruption and the immorality of my superiors or else I seek that same destruction my superiors had sought when they won dominance. But then I was struck by another, worse thought than doubt: "Was this interpretation wrong?" So again I typed Google, with the exception of this time adding Carrasco's name, and then I realized the true nature of the war: illusion. The wall, the studio, the paintings — all these were fronts. Like decoys. Illusions. Images online. Online I found the war was everywhere, in all its varied forms, as mediums, and Ruben too was everywhere. He showed the Audience a process, an interactive one, too, of how an artist captures, kills, then beautifies a fallen wasp. And these were equally as relevant…

 

 

 

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