“Trapped Objects” , a show that opens up a window to dive into the creative universe and conceptual frameworks that are crucial to Xavier Mascaro’s work, like the accident, opposites fusion, icons, love, travel and movement.
The sculptures narrate both iconographic and technical qualities of Mascaró’s work. About the technique, Mascaró as sculptor likes to explore possibilities and behavior of materials and melting process. As he explains, when he started working with iron, all his work had a unity within the material, giving the same record to all the pieces, that were already parts of the same family. At some point, (precisely when he moved to New York in 2004) he wanted to use different materials that had different relation to each other, like glass or ceramics, and then have a ground to build a new dialogue between materials.
During an interview with Tomàs Llorens in 2010, with motive of the monumental Buddha-Guardians exhibition at Paseo del Prado in Madrid, Mascaró mentioned about his attraction for melting and “how to use diverse elements through process that solidifies them in a unitary element”. This has been his method for the last years, in Torsos during 2009, made up of iron, resin and plaster, Sacred Couple in 2014, with iron and aluminum, or Invocation in 2015, with copper, silk, wire and conglomerate.
The group that is shown now, makes a relation of redefined qualities for glazed ceramic (reflects the light, is soft, fragile and brilliant), with the strength and roughness of iron and bronze without patina. A metal webbing surrounding and constraining shapes and heads made up of glazed ceramic. We find also a sculpture fully made up of iron, a big scale Eleonora, that works as a counterpoint for the rest of the pieces. If the Eleonora piece is made of iron webbing and inside there’s only air – emptiness – then, the rest of the sculptures replace the empty space with ceramic.
As Mascaró explains, these “trapped objects” are the materialization of a process in which conceptual work came before the physical object: the mental icon idealization (guardians, geishas, Eleonora, mythical beings) expressed by iron or bronze threads that I “knot around the image to make it mine”. The step between the mental image and the sculpture built is a process that Mascaró calls a “conversation” between the materials and the artist. A conversation that flows with each element input that is modified by the accident and surprise of the unexpected. In Mascaró’s words, a sculpture is “what it0s about to happen”. In the series presented this time, the accident came in a determined way caused by the different behavior in each material when exposed to a thermal contrast. Metal contracts itself when cooling, but this contraction is paused by the ceramic inside, and then both material are broken. Two material intimately joined, that break together, but at the same time they resist each other. This closes a full metaphor, evident in pieces like the hugging couple.
Images that are icons that encapsule a meaning. His personal iconography is very often influenced by old cultures and civilizations, like the Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, Oriental and pre-hispanic, but also medieval and renaissance reminiscences. Cultures far away in the time and space where Mascaró unifies a single image generating a form of “hybrid meaning but at the same time new and different”.
This way, the guardian (or Buddha-Guardian) is presented as a custodian of the essential. The series Exodus is related to the idea of a mythical journey. The mythological characters that occupy the boats are representing an ancestral ritual and mythical voyages with shamans, gods or semi gods, possibly related to the underworld. The exodus theme, Mascaró explains, started in Departure, the big scale empty boat series that was exhibited in Saatchi Gallery in London during 2016. This took him to other series of boats in a smaller format with characters, in glazed ceramic, that is currently being exhibited in Palermo’s Instituto Cervantes. (and before in their Amán location). A step further is what this exhibition shows. The idea of going somewhere keeps open in a new project of walking characters.
The Laying Couple and Hug talk about love and couples, from two different point of views: first, inspired in the etruscan culture, is a social representation about status and hierarchy, meanwhile the second perspective comes from a personal point of view, with a bodily and emotional fusion. On the other side, the “trapped” heads (with Eleonora, Geisha, Estanteria) reminds us to the figuration that, in Kosme and Barañano words, joins with the tradition of Spanish and Occidental art, from Medieval to Baroque, where reality is synthesized and intellectualized until it reaches the representation of an idea, a symbol.
Definitely, Mascaró’s work has an enormous evocative power, rich in shades and interpretations, they promote reflexion and stimulate imagination. The greatness of art resides in its capacity to communicate with the viewer and therefore it inhabits a continuous present.