Ultimate Aesthetic Act: Altar, 2016, oil on panel, 32" x 20"
Ultimate Aesthetic Act: Ruin, 2016, oil on panel, 40" x 16"
Ultimate Aesthetic Act: Cenotaph, 2016, oil on panel, 40" x 16"
“Throughout Mexican history...death itself, death as an ultimate value and source of value, has been as much a protagonist as the Virgin of Guadalupe...The individual death of a major historical actor is of course the purest moment within the aesthetic of death.” -Enrique Krauze
The Ultimate Aesthetic Act, a series of three diptych paintings, takes its title from the above quote and was painted during my time living in Mexico City. The paintings are based on two memorials built in recent years in Mexico City, both of which page homage to victims of the country’s ongoing drug war. The first, “Memorial a las Victimas de la Violencia,” is in tribute to civilians who have been killed during the conflict; the second, “Plaza del Servicio a la Patria,” commemorates members of the military killed in the same war. They are located blocks away from each other.
The Ultimate Aesthetic Act takes these two memorials as inspiration, but the paintings themselves are abstract representations of the idea of a memorial. Each diptych represents a consideration of the purpose or value of the memorial. Cenotaph depicts the monument as a gravestone and place of grieving, Altar sees the memorial as shrine and site of reverence, and Ruin foresees the eventual neglect and forgetting that comes along with the building of a memorial. As abstractions in form and title, these paintings represent any memorial, anywhere.
That said, these works were created in Mexico and inspired by two specific places. In each diptych, the panel on the left is based upon the flat steel slabs that constitute the “Memorial a las Victimas” and the panel on the right is inspired by the monolithic boulders found at the “Plaza del Servicio.” The paintings also draw formal inspiration from the visual culture of Mexico--its pre-Columbian architecture, Catholic imagery and local vegetation.