Art has always played a significant role in the cultural and spiritual life of most of us who appreciate it. It can be a conduit for the mind to a more elevated plane – a plane of aesthetic buoyancy where the spirit is free to roam amongst the fairies and elves of Arcadia or it can be an ideal excuse to walk through the doors of galleries and studios to gawp nosily at the architecture and drink wine and munch on canapés to set you up for the evening before taking in the restaurants of Plaza Machado.
Here in Mazatlán we have something called The Saturday Morning Art Sprint and we sent the MazReal art correspondent Eugene Farquhar-Gonzalez or ‘EeFG’ and his pair of running shoes out to describe the art therein the tour.
After a sprint from the MazReal offices 10 kilometers away he first entered a gallery on Calle Fandango, drank half a dozen glasses of cheap plonk and ate some limp cheese where there was only one exhibit on that day by a US artist in the empty minimalist studio of 4 white walls, entitled “Fridge” by the artist, Genaro Electric which consisted of a white cupboard-sized hollow space plugged into the mains, whose purpose it appeared to be keep things cool. On opening the door as he was invited to do, he found racks of ordinary comestibles such as butter, milk, cheese and eggs. This piece seemed to be saying “Are things cool enough?” Once your mind fixes on that, a whole host of fascinating questions pop up: What is the meaning of cool? What things do we want to keep cool? What would a hen think if you suggested cooling its eggs? So many questions that we have to make up our own answers and conclude that this is the most perplexing question: “Cool me down or shake me up daddy-o?”
An art lover muses over 'Fridge' by American expat artist Genaro Electric
He turned his back on the molded Bauhaus-styled, chilly and recessive stark piece and with his head reeling with the impact of what he had just ‘experienced’ or the effects of the wine found his way onto the street and sprinted off to the next studio on his list where just off Calle 42 de Mayo an ‘installation’ was suggested. ‘Calle 42’ by artist Zero Aarnio known as ‘Mad’ Arnie. Our man sauntered in and helped himself to some more wine and soggy cheese biscuits and stale nuts. The installation was roughly the size of a ground floor of an average Zona Historica casa and was ironically named Calle 42 de Mayo numero 19, which ‘Mad’ had inscribed on the front door.
‘EeFG’ was invited to walk through four spaces of gradually diminishing size till he found himself in an outside open area where the main attraction was a square hole with rounded corners painted sky blue filled with water surrounded by ‘loungers’. The piece shrieked bourgeois corporate, heartless yet bold minimal innovatism. He noted there was a sumptuous minimalist interplay between various abstract forms and surfaces and reflections. He immediately thought Gligorov without the dead body.
After Gligorov minimalist study 'Pool' by Aarnio. Part of the installation 'Calle 19'. The famous MazReal critic tests the water.
Back inside, the first room boldly contained large sculptures reminiscent of furniture, except they did not look in the least bit comfortable. Pieces you would never remotely think of sitting in. Strangely incongruous in this Mexican setting. ‘East Coast Italianate’ he mused. This room gives the viewer immediate thoughts of geometry. This is a space by inhabiting we are giving shape and form to. The layers of meaning more apparent when you step through the doors, interrupting the tyranny of emptiness.
Installation 'Calle 19' by Zero 'Mad' Aarnio intrigues our man into speechlessness.
The next room featured a large sculpture the size of a bed and through that a smaller room featuring sculptures of white porcelain invoking neo-dada. Duchamp would certainly approve especially the collusion of properties – white, silver, polished, wetness. He approached a mirrored surface fixed to the wall where he was invited to look inside and see the outside. What is within is without. It forced you to look inside yourself and see the outer person in reverse. “Totally gonesville amigo.” he blurted.
Our critic takes a breather in the neo-dada installation of Calle 19.
His mind reeling from the possibilities Eugene stepped outside and never made it to the next one as the malecón and its bars so close beckoned him. He drunkenly passed on his way to the Puerto Viejo a colorful shop with colorful prints of local scenes that sell to passing tourists and cruise ship passengers - tourist memorabilia. He pressed his drunken nose against the window and then staggered inside, his sensitive artistic sensibilities shattered by what he saw and he shouted in an art critic drunken rant taking it out on this poor somewhat taken aback person.
“I’m surrounded by work that is utterly banal and vulgar, like a toilet mounted in concrete resembling nothing that could exist outside of Lovecraftian fiction.”
The proprietor strode over slapped him hard and shouted back, “You fucking Philistine. True art is incomprehensible and these sell.”
Suddenly ‘he got it’, it was art, fine art no less and art that sells. He was surrounded by it. In this little colorful shop full of pretty colorful prints, he had seen the light. Those 4 words – True Art Is Incomprehensible.
Much later the MazReal staff had to be called to the Puerto Viejo to restrain a drunken man shouting his most pretentious art critic sayings at the top of his lungs and banging his glass on the table - “TRUE ART IS ANGSTY, EVERYONE IS JESUS IN PURGATORY, WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT IS NOT DIDATIC, WHAT THE FUCK DO WE KNOW WE ARE NOT ARTISTS WE ARE MERELY HUMAN, TRUE ART STICKS IT TO THE MAN.
We tazered the madman and dragged him out feet first still shouting and hollering.
"TRUE ART IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE, ALL YOU LUCKY LUCKY PAINTERS OUT THERE, YOU ARE ALL ARTISTS.”
We clubbed him senseless to shut his pretentious art critic claptrap. But somehow we knew he was right.