Wise Bloodlife by its Canvas: Marcos Acosta’s Worldview

Marcos Acosta is, more than a Córdoba-born painter, a drawer or sculptor, a great contemporary philosopher. It’s not because he does not act as an artist, since he’s been vigorously doing so ever since he was eight, but also because he defines painting as a “process of thinking intertwined with something profoundly spiritual”. “To me, says, [painting] means an opportunity of deepening into myself and, through that, into the universe”.

The eye seems to catch a glimpse of the universe from a crack in the sky, and that crack has become Marcos’ inspiring muse. He admired the majesty of the landscape with fascination and somehow a lack of understanding, from the Sierras’ hilltops of his native Córdoba, flying over cities through a plane window -as a grand flaneur- or even up to 3.000 meters high in Abra del Infernillo, the mountain range which joints Calchaquíes Valleys with Tafí del Valle in Tucumán. “My main source of inspiration is reality, what I perceive from it. Of course nature is the source, then. My travels influence a lot, because there are new realities opening in front of me”, he admits. And adds, “No doubt the landscape is the topic I have been most interested in for the past few years. On the one hand, it’s almost natural it’s my main subject, since I am from a place where it’s protagonist. And on the other, the landscape is the perfect excuse to reflect upon the topic that animates my work: man.”

Marcos’ works are completely pierced through by a long-lasting tradition in art history: the (conflictive) relationship between man and nature. “Man believes, mistakenly, not to be a part of nature. He thinks he’s here to control it, dominate it, making of her a beneficial element. And in that sense I believe it’s an absolute mistake, since we are part of nature. We are not more or less than any of the elements that compose it. We are here to flow with these in a design that doesn’t compel us, and against which we have nothing left to do”, he draws up.

Tormenta II / Oil on canvas / 120 x 100cm

Before his parents built his first atelier for him- when he was thirteen years old-, before beginning to attend art lessons –when he was ten-, in short, when he hadn’t even decided he wanted to be an artist –which he did at the age of eight- Marcos wanted to be a Paleonthologist, an Astronomer, a Geologist or a Biologist, like his brother. Nowadays he is a Bachelor in Painting from Cordoba National University. The scientific reason, according to the romantics, is the masked pretension of absolute scientific-technological domain. Maybe that paradox evidences the reason why this artist abandoned the road of science that had captivated him in his childhood. “Art began to be the most adequate tool, since what is impossible to understand from a logical perspective, might be possible to look into through art. Art always seemed a spiritual road of introspection, and by looking for answers you only get more questions”, he affirms, adopting this discipline as the language which allows him to move to the field of irresolvable dilemmas, being it through video, painting, engraving, sculpture or text. However, his main challenge has always been found in painting, since “it’s a language that goes against the grain of our times, in which everything has to be immediate and fast. Painting demands time for its execution. And it’s a real challenge to create a contemporary image which is at the same time universal and timeless”, he manifests.

The eagerness of superiority of our species is, for Acosta, “The Origin of the Catastrophe”, name under which he baptized one of his most relevant series. In this work, presented in 2009, the enchantment generated by the most beautiful horizons is annihilated by the emergence of an intrusive geometric figure, disturbingly warning that the landscape is perishable. Maybe that sensation resembles the shook he himself experimented in San Juan, right before the Valle de la Luna, when a specialist mentioned that, inexorably, everything that composes our civilization nowadays, will someday also be petrified like that Triassic period formation of fossils, sediments and minerals. A similar tension is what Marcos manages to generate in the spirit of his audience. His works are based upon counterpoint. He doesn’t impose a truth, but arouses bewilderment from the spectator to examine his own questions. “I am very much interested in the idea of a work questioning the viewer: apprehending or breaking schemes of what was expected to view or think. I like that it generates more doubts than certainties”, he confesses.

El origen / Oil on canvas / 80x60cm

Guided by an internal pulse of improvisation at the beginning, Marcos elaborated a body of work which responded to an expressionist aesthetic, and progressively adventured into a very distinctive field. Towards 2012 he began creating his paintings based upon computer-generated sketches and photographs. “Having already defined what I will do in every work I face, the work is centred, from an artistic perspective, upon creating a new reality which surpasses the one reproduced in the photograph”, he sustained. This twist was expressly reflected in one of the series which compose “All the Cities”, the last series he exhibited, in which he managed to counteract the technical reproducibility by decomposing images to depict them over canvas in the form of pixels. Once again, he generates that unsettling and sinister sensation which obstructs the viewer’s sight in an act of profound alienation.

At the same time, the second section which constitutes this sort of “triology” concerns, as its name indicates, cities. Considering there is no limit between what is natural and artificial, Acosta presents urban settings as domesticated landscapes, geometrically shaped but organically alive. “If we can conceive ourselves as beings that are part of nature, then everything we do is part of it too. I don’t think anyone says a beehive is artificial, hence we shouldn’t think a city is”, he explains.

Marcos is, apart from having started the production of a book which reflects his 25 years of trajectory, currently elaborating a new series which consists of a deepening and, at the same time, a detachment of his last chapter in “All the Cities”: landscapes.

Since its still in full production phase, he admits it doesn’t have a name yet to encompass it. Still, the artist affirms it is a spiritual quest that goes “way beyond” his last series. “I am excited to search for different ways of thinking, and that’s what I do. Thus, I believe that if my work, despite its permanent formal changes, has a distinctive feature it is exactly that: the opposites game” he synthesizes, accounting for the fact that the colliding forces on the plain will survive forever as an organizing concept for all his work.

Grieta / Óleo sobre tela / 90 x 110cm

Marcos questions himself and does not answer, he believes in the search and doesn’t search for someone to believe in, his life is a permanent reflection. Maybe because of that he doesn’t have too many clear referents nowadays, beyond his “first big love” Vincent Van Gogh and the British David Hockney. Both artists, coincidentally, were synesthetic. Meaning, they had the exceptional quality of perceiving a stimuli by another one different than the ordinary as, for example, seeing with the ears. Could Marcos hear images? Even if he admits not hearing colors, his confession is remarkable: “This music with those lyrics brings to my mind a certain image or suggests a certain thing. In the images that [are] arising, there is a type of texture coming from that sound. I am way more influenced by musicians than painters”, he affirms, after naming as referents the famous British band Pink Floyd, the great poet and composer Luis Alberto Spinetta and the magnificent singer and guitarist from Soda Stereo, Gustavo Cerati, with whom he forged a friendship. “Music, being so abstract, even with the poetry it carries, is very useful for opening it to the work of art, [making it] an open work and less comprehensive in a one and only way”, he declares, reaffirming his intention of bewildering.

As if it wasn’t enough for a life that still doesn’t reach its fourth decade, Marcos is also, a teacher. But, true to his style, he doesn’t teach a painting workshop, but one of “Production and Thought”, sourcing from his spiritual quest in painting and his previous experience in the field of art to facilitate the path to his workshop students. “I consider that art by itself cannot be taught. Being an introspective spiritual discipline, one can only act as a “guide”. My work in this resembles that of a “local” in the hills, guiding you to reach where you want to go, but the hill itself you must traverse on your own. Everyone makes its own path”. The inheritance of one of his most important teachers, the renowned Carlos Peiteado, seems to lean out in his conception of art education, since this sculptor didn’t teach him how to paint but how to see the world. “I ended up understanding with him that [the artist’s search] is one profoundly spiritual” he assures, making clear, if there was still a doubt, his philosophical and reflective nature.

Paradoja III / Oil on canvas / 100 x 100cm

Marcos travelled quite a lot and his works have been exhibited through the vast Argentinian territory and also in countries like Brazil, Colombia, North America and even in private collections in Europe and Asia. However, he always returned to his picturesque neighbourhood, San Vicente, where he is now about to build a new studio surrounded by natural inspiration in the form of hills. “The best teacher that there is for me is, by far, nature. I prefer to escape to the mountains, climb some hills and [right there] I learn a lot” he asseverates, accounting for the fact that being in contact with nature is the nectar of his thoughts, and that his travels are not more than profound resignifications with which he will still materialize, as the sun goes on shining, like “wise bloodlife by [its canvas]”.

English translation: Agustina Mistretta

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