THE ART OF TERROR

Halloween has become fashionable nowadays because it adds a bit of humour and mystery to a traditionally solemn and serious celebration in which we face a mandatory appointment with death. Despite the imported traditions, the emptying of pumpkins and the famous phrase "trick or treat" (which was never said in our country ever), the truth is that there is a certain homogeneity in the fact that we get ready for an encounter with the after-death world. From this core idea, derive the others that play with the fear of the unknown, the fear of death, the connection with the underworld, etc., proposing a more open and humorous approach. And we, in our particular Halloween, make a reminder of some works that treat fear and terror in a masterly way.

Edvard Munch, "The scream", 1893

This well-known Munch painting is the work par excellence of the Expressionism, an artistic stream that tried to convey the sensations through the colour, without necessarily keeping coherence and verisimilitude. This artist, known for his tormented and dejected character, was one of the greatest representatives of this movement. The most famous version of this work is in Oslo, in the National Gallery of Norway, where it was stolen several times, the last in 2004, until in 2006 the piece could be recovered.

Goya, "Saturn devouring his son", (1819-1823)

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One of the most tormented paintings known is "Saturn devouring his son", by Goya. This work is framed within his famous period of Black Paintings, all dry oils, painted on the wall, in which the artist deals with dark themes related to tragedy and depression. This period coincides with a serious illness of the painter, who channelled his displeasure and disappointment through his work. Saturn represents the Titan Chronos, the god of time, who devours everything in its path. It is a crude and raw work that does not hide its violence, and that Goya had in his house of the Quinta del Sordo.

Salvador Dalí, "The face of war", 1940

"The face of war" painted by Dalí between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War II represents the horror of tragedy, the empty sockets, which enclose other faces multiplied in an infinite approximation, to manifest the desolation and impotence. It is said that another motivation of the author for this painting was the execution of Federico García Lorca, with whom Dalí had an intimate relationship.

Zdzislaw Beksinski

And we must highlight the work of Zdzislaw Beksinski. The life of this Polish artist was also testimony to a great life tragedy. He himself was found dead of 17 stabs in his home in 2005. This multidisciplinary author is considered one of the maximum representatives of contemporary surrealism, and his works do not leave indifferent. The presence of death, the connections with the underworld, the horror of sinister images with beings devoured by apocalyptic entities are their most recurrent motives. Beksinski said that he painted what was in his dreams, but he was very jealous of what he communicated, because he destroyed several of his works because he said they were too personal for the world to know them.

 

One of the purposes of the “Art Madrid-Proyector’20” program was to offer the opportunity to get to know the work of some invited creators, and, through an interactive talk, allow the public to open a direct dialogue with them. For this reason, from February 12th to 14th, were organised three masterclasses at Medialab Prado with Patxi Araújo, Olga Diego and Lois Patiño, all authors who work with the moving image, but who approach their projects from a diametrically opposite perspective. With this agenda, we were able to discuss three essential lines of current video-creation: the fusion with technology and artificial intelligence, the shaping of performances for documentary purposes and video art with film overtones. We already had the opportunity to remember the session with Patxi Araújo and his site-specific work "Sherezade" created for the Medialab Prado façade. Today we will talk about the meeting we had with Olga Diego and Lois Patiño.

Olga diego, photo by Javier Adiego

Olga Diego’s masterclass has as title: “The flight as a creative matter”. Olga is a multidisciplinary artist who in recent years has focused her work on sculpture and performance or action art, which she later documents with photography and video. This last aspect is one of the most interesting for her when she reflects on how the transformation of the piece from an experiential format to a recorded one takes place, and how individuals have become used to consuming this class of less invasive final products, from a space of comfort that our private devices offer.

One of Olga's main lines of research is related to autonomous flight systems and the creation of artefacts capable of rising with little energy. Can one create a material lighter than air itself? This idea has led her to experiment with numerous scientific forms and concepts, as well as taking a historical journey through the beginnings of flight and the progress of humanity to invent devices capable of flying. It is not just about recovering the history of aviation, something that has a much more technological and commercial side, but to investigate the ideas, experiments and tests that analysed the behaviour of air, the dynamics of flows and the design of individual aerodynamic structures, a concern that the human being showed since the Renaissance, with Leonardo Da Vinci.

Olga Diego, photo by Mario Gutiérrez Cru

Olga recovers many of these concepts and applies them to her recent projects. In her latest proposals, she has also worked with inflatable figures, as an alternative to conducted flight, using plastic materials for its construction. Her last exhibition “The automatic garden”, which could be enjoyed at the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art and the Lonja del Pescado Exhibition Hall, also in Alicante, is a gigantic installation made up of almost a hundred inflatable-electronic sculptures inspired by the beautiful, extravagant and suggestive characters from the Garden of Earthly Delights, by El Bosco. This cloud of humanoid and zoomorphic figures, which move and beat thanks to the electronic mechanisms that keep them permanently inflated, also portrays the excesses of man, his lack of concern for the invasion of the environment, the overexposure to plastic and the exploitation of natural resources. A composition that focuses on "sin", as an indirect message that was also conveyed in the work of El Bosco.

Masterclass of Lois Patiño. Photo by Marta Suárez-Mansilla

For his part, Lois Patiño's career is intimately connected to film work. “Time and image” was the title of his masterclass. His video pieces, whether brief or feature-long films contain a concern closely linked to film language, but on a path that leaves conventional narratives aside. Among the main motifs that occupy his work, Lois opts for more contemplative aesthetics, where the expressive power of the image itself is prioritised, without seeking too many added effects in conventional cinema through sound effects, dialogues or other devices.





This is why Lois's work is so poetic and lyrical. His proposals incorporate technological innovations to cause very concrete effects in his works, but all of this helps to delve into the issues that concern this creator and that, since his beginnings, have been present in his work.

Lois Patiño, foto de Mario Gutiérrez Cru

Lois Patiño has always been interested in the relationship of the individual with the landscape and how it can modulate our way of behaving in society and determine our idiosyncrasy. To what extent are we dependent on our environment? How is culture defined by its connection to the landscape? These and other questions plague the author's work in which many contemplative images abound.

In addition, Lois presented us in scoop the trailer for his latest feature-long film "Lúa vermella" that a few days after the masterclass was officially presented at the Berlinale - International Film Festival in Berlin 2020.