The fantasy exhibition continues. Today I’m looking at two artists who explore the human condition through restraint and constraint: Matthew Barney and Javier Pérez.
At this point, Matthew Barney more or less has the status of an “art star” but I am not so interested in his current high budget films. What initially drew me to his work was his Drawing Restraint series (I’m going to ignore the DR 9 film that he made with Björk). In an interview he did for SF MoMA he discusses how the series began through a desire to insert his own body into his work. An ex-football player, he understands how athletes train by constraining their body to complete obstacles (think about those people who throw a harness around themselves to drag a tire around a race track). It is through resistance training that muscles grow and develop. He uses this physicality to explore the psychology behind art making and test the limits of himself as the artist. Ultimately it is an exploration of the human body in space. What it means to use and occupy such a body.
I came across Javier Pérez only today (thanks to Juxtapoz Magazine) and immediately was taken with his work. He was born in Bilbao and still works primarily in Spain. The film, En Puntas, is both beautiful and grotesque. We witness a ballerina struggle to dance in Pointe shoes that have been elongated with sharp knives.
In his own words:
“I like dealing with points of encounter between spirit and flesh, between purity and impurity, between beauty and horror, between attraction and repulsion. I frequently use these swinging movements to offer onlookers different degrees of appreciation of my works. My works seek to reconcile all these aspects. I am interested in revealing how ambiguous these concepts are, and how reversible they can be. The idea is to confront humanity with its own condition, and for everything that humanity find frightening to take an irresistible charm. The idea is for humanity to be attracted by its own viscera.”
The result is haunting, intense, excruciating, and telling. I found myself drawn to it and repelled from it over and over again. Watch the film HERE