David Ryan













Imagine this: A photographic image of a flower head and its stems seemingly crushed by a series of bravura abstract expressionist brush strokes. The Argentinean painter Fabian Marcaccio has provided us with such an image: his Conjectural Amendment (Untitled) of 1996. It is a violent image in its own way; one that, at first glance, might well conjure up a violation of nature; or might be seen to speak of contamination or pollution. And yet the link between these two contradictory elements, on closer scrutiny, are not so simple as a natural ‘ground’ contaminated by the ‘figure’ of a cultural polluter. Both are intrinsically linked on a basic level as ‘given’ embodiments of pigmentation: one synthetic and the other natural; and yet we can, of course, no longer point to one or the other with the assurances of either category – within the picture or outside of it - and are left simply with the increasingly blurred boundaries between the two. Here, the technology of paint production and genetically modified flora merge into the same horizon.
It is typical of this particular artist, and the others included in this present exhibition, to explore previously mutually exclusive motifs or categories, which are allowed to interpenetrate and collapse into one another, creating a space other than the binary exclusions of a purist logic. In Marcaccio’s case, his paintings are wilfully complex, consisting of multiple compounds, and straddling traditions, attitudes, modes of painterly practice, mobilised not simply as conflict, but in order to find a new cohesion. While this might distantly relate to the now classical figures of collage/montage, it is, as he puts it, a “healed collage.” The biological metaphor, here, is apt, as it points to a shift of emphasis away from the cut or the graft in itself (i.e. the shock of Surrealist juxtaposition or combination) to a more seamless passage between differences. He positions this in contradistinction to the traditional uses of collage while at the same time seeing it existing as a mutated distant relative. Raymond Williams once suggested that the radical de-familiarisation of montage had found its ultimate destination in the form of the TV commercial, something that Marcaccio also suggests:
“…the ultimate banality of collage is perhaps the 24 hours a day collage on MTV. Right now the world itself is a disparate collage, and communication technologies have made it possible for international industries to produce collaged products, by utilizing workers, materials and means of production in many different countries, without respecting any provisional local orders, at will. Our generation is perhaps the first one to try to integrate or organise something after this now established all-over cultural collage.”
Once denoting ‘exotic’ or radical displacements, such manoeuvres are now integrally part of the fabric of our lives. Surrounded, as we are, by cut and paste edits, as well as seemingly homogonous products which traverse media, temporality and location, objects are no longer reducible or readable in relation to their ‘pure’ basic components. The whole question of ‘pure’ forms or ‘origins’ now seems misplaced. Transposed to the level of painterly practice, this ‘developed’ collage might be the key to offer some insights – albeit from very different perspectives and outlooks - into the work of this current grouping of artists.