Scherzo - collage narrative
At Galerija Meštrović
Split, Croatia, 2013.
One should start with the articulation of the exhibition narrative. It's not a question of seemingly neutral space of 'white box' that in every exhibition period - with prior preparation and customization - becomes encrypted by some new artistic content, but of a space of an interesting and visible history and intended use. So, it is the former dining room of one of the most celebrated Croatian sculptors, Ivan Meštrović, within his former villa that in the thirties of the last century he had built for a summer stay of his family, but also for uninterrupted creative work. Repetition of the determinant 'former' is entirely intentional. This points to the need to analyze the phenomenon of memory which this space undoubtedly contains and presents. In the early fifties of the last century the whole building of Meštrović family was transformed into a space for exhibiting his works. The objects of private use were removed. However, the space in which a Mexican artist Eric del Castillo this time introduces his own narrative structure is the only a part of the museum complex, which testifies to the presence of the former 'everyday life'. And of an everyday life - according to the equipment and the furniture - of an enviable standard.
Eric's approach to Meštrović space appears as a complementary scenery. In the dining room the artist installs 'his own' plates. Although fully exempt from practical functions they evoke - or even resemble - the act of consumption. We should not forget that the plates with genre scenes have been often used in some special, festive occasions. It is possible to implement this or a completely different analogy, but Eric's plates are holders of new actions and they become the surfaces of reading interesting contents. Eric del Castillo made a selection of used plates belonging to different periods of the twentieth century, suggesting the diversity of historical stratification, on which he constructs their own stories. The scenes are diverse, often phantasmagoric and related to ludicrous moods of the author. But on them it is possible to identify and construct reminiscences of historical figures and their merits, the modalities of monument preservation, but also local stories, comments.
A common feature of the work is humorous and unencumbered comment, a certain playfulness as evidenced by the name scherzo under what the artist gathers them.
Furthermore, what was Eric's artistic procedure? An old illustrated book from the attic of the house in Bosanska Street 2 in Split has served the artist as a source of parts for a new collage scene of almost surreal quality. Such techniques may be found in an environment of historical avant-garde as we are again suggesting a sort of retro-look which Eric intentionally supports. As noted by Peter Bürger in his seminal study of the avant-garde - and analyzing the differences between the traditional and the avant-garde procedes - the thing was no longer in an organic modeling of indivisible wholes, but of the physical cutting and semantic redefinition and new construction through a repertoire already created and present that is available to author and his choice. Just the collage seems to epitomize this procedure.
It seems that the true value of Eric's action should be sought in the inherited cultural constructs, but also in mnemonic abilities of man which bring out once learned, meanwhile suppressed, forgotten, but now presentable.
The forks also experienced transformation being bent, and deprived of the use to which they owe their original appearance, so to become the objects of completely new characteristics, that is interesting and effective props for plates.