Some USA Stories
July 5 − August 31, 2013
On Friday, 5th of July 2013, Galerie Thomas Schulte will open a solo exhibition of new Rope Paintings by Fabian Marcaccio from the as yet unfinished cycle, Some USA Stories, a large number of which was shown in a solo exhibition at the Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld in 2012.
Fabian Marcaccio was born in Argentina in 1963 and has been residing in New York City since 1986. In his work he deals with the subject of questioning and expanding the conventional painting, essentially investigating whether it can survive in the digital age. In the early 1990s, Marcaccio became well known for his series, The Altered Genetics of Painting, in which he manipulates the conventions of painting. By combining traditional painting with other mediums, Marcaccio coined the term paintant, blending the words painting and mutant together. In his Environmental Paintings, he became a pioneer in the use of digital painting and industrial printing techniques, infusing painting with spatial and temporal characteristics.
Marcaccio calls his current work Rope Paintings. After his digitally-based work, these paintings function as a re-territorialization or re-materialization of painting. They involve the redefinition of all the given elements of painting, from the rough wood stretcher and the hand woven rope ground to multiple applications and handling of paint. Marcaccio first applies oil paint and alkyd to both sides of a net structure on a stretcher frame woven out of hemp and climbing ropes; the width of the mesh already takes into account the later motif. He then works elements, prepared in advance, into the composition, such as 3-D printed parts, three-dimensional applications, made of coloured silicone or protruding coloured streaks, resulting from extrusion and reminiscent of monumental brushstrokes.
Through his work cycle, Some USA Stories, Marcaccio tries to redefine contemporary history painting as a kind of investigative report on both historical events and the nature of painting itself. While searching for pictorial models that will resonate with paradigmatic subjects and events in the last 30 years of American history, Marcaccio further develops a strong critical and confrontational aesthetic in line with Goya, Gerhard Richter’s series, Oktober 18 from 1977, or Leon Golub’s Mercenaries. In this regard the work, Lorraine Motel, depicts the balcony on which Martin Luther King was assassinated. The pictorial model invites the spectator to almost pass through the weave of the canvas. Light and shadow, form and expression, all merge on the scene of the dramatic event.
The critical confrontation with his adopted homeland and the downsides of American world power are in central focus of the work, Transport, which broaches the issue of the transportation of prisoners by American PMCs. Shadow-like figures emerge from the painting’s backdrop and then disappear, just as the military Black Sites, a network of secret US military prisons in which suspects are unlawfully tried and imprisoned outside of the US. Their controversial legal status works hand in hand with the uncertainty of the shifting ground of the painting. In Militia Family, Marcaccio draws on the militia movement in the USA. With overgrowing camouflage brush strokes, the artist creates a seemingly banal family portrait of the members of the Michigan Militia, a militant group residing in central United States. In Drone, a military drone – a machine in service of radio controlled killing – is depicted as a dissolving ghost, as if the painting ground cannot make sense of the nature of the image.
While in his series, Some USA Stories, Marcaccio makes repeated references to current or past events in US-American history and to their protagonists, some of the works in his cycle describe not so much a historical event, as a certain US-American state of mind. Paparazzi and Diva, Red Carpet, for example, point to the myth of Hollywood and to today’s celebrity culture, where fame and insignificance, illusion and reality rank side by side. Like all of the works in Marcaccio’s cycle of paintings, they are commentaries on current topics in American politics, economics and society. Like the paintants, Marcaccio’s Some USA Stories are a kaleidoscope of meaning and a continuation of his analytical engagement with the flood of media images in our day.