“I’m neither nostalgic for the idea of a return to an untouched, essential nature, nor am I interested in blueprints for the future, the totalitarian failures that lined modernism” M. Soto-Diaz
One maybe confounded upon a review of artist Mariangeles Soto-Diaz’s work over the past several years; her works look so visually diverse that it does not conform to any one ‘style’. She does seem to have a few themes which consistently appear throughout, perhaps its part of her process which may in fact be more important than the resultant object; she takes a current social issue, looks at it from a historical perspective, in many cases from modernism, re-interprets it, from a fresh point of view.
Her work also uses color as a signifier, where different colors represent different ideas, and all the while being guided by the principles of the ‘fluxus’ movement, which advocates an anti-commercial and anti-art sensibility, much like its predecessor, the dada movement and Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades. Fluxus dictated that the process was more important than the outcome, DIY attitude, the use of ‘found’ materials (trash) presented with mixed media and the use of shock in its presentation ‘events’. Fluxus artists approach an artwork with no preconceived ideas of how it will look like in the end, which incidently is how I approach these blog posts; I have no idea what I’m going to say when I choose an artist to write about. Its all kind of intuitive, and comes together as I go along. (I don’t quite see it as a performance yet)
Soto-Diaz’s Utopian Tense Of Green (2010) takes reference to Alexander Von Humboldt’s travels and documentation of the vegetation and geology of South America, and the centuries old quest for gold, to be found in the mythical city of El Dorado. A quest incidently, that has taken many lives, without anyone ever finding anything. It is this quest that seems to be innate in humans, to find utopia, or the idea of aspiring to a utopia, that Soto-Diaz is addressing in this piece.
“If monochrome black stood for painting’s exhaustion and disenchantment, green signals the technology of renewal.” M. Soto-Diaz
The solution offered, is found in a respect for nature, and which is also described as a new type of language, or of the grammatical, ‘utopian tense’, which represented by green and not in the promises of modernism, represented by black, and which brings to mind Franz Kline’s abstract expressionist master piece Mahoning (1956).
The fluxus-ian tendency of turning everything into an event or performance is also evident in Color’s Ordinates And Affinities: Instructions For Chromatic Living (2012) which is Soto-Diaz’s response to her own group project (called Never Underestimate A Monochrome 2012) in which participating artists were asked each to produce a piece according to or in response to statements given by Soto-Diaz on what to do according to certain colors (or what different colors are supposed to mean), not to be confused with Sophie Calle’s instructions for having The Chromatic Diet (1998), which had to do with one’s existential meaning.
The choice of using straight lines joining, radiating from, shapes of pure color in Color’s Ordinates And Affinities seems to be somewhat of a cross between Rothko and Kandinsky; the former using rectangular shapes of a single color to express a sort of abstract transcendent spirituality, the latter also, but using black lines to tie in a composition of pure shapes and colors. In Soto-Diaz’s case the difference is that her pure colors represent social ideals instead of spiritual ones. The fluxus-ian event driven ideals of performance art are also adhered to.
Make a brown monochrome painting with other connecting elements. Invite a friend for chocolate, coffee and conversation. Appreciate the material and relational presence of paint, friend, coffee and chocolate in the same temporal space.
Make a monochrome with The Color Purple. Read the book, host friends to watch the movie. Let it bore into you. Dream of better futures.
Make a pink monochrome painting. Imagine a postpatriarchal world in which there is no need for feminism. Spread pink thoughts.
Make a white monochrome painting. Meditate on the fullness of this monochrome white, its unbearable emptiness, its uncertain readings, its performative refusal.
Make a blue monochrome painting with two modulated tones of blue. Visualize links with others’ blues, near and far, transnational connections through the vast sea of human suffering. Add a dose of humor. Listen to the Blues.
Make a multichrome painting using many connecting monochrome units. Imagine these connections echoing across communities of artists, comprising a whole larger than the sum of its parts while exposing a striking variety of human moments of unease and mortality, disillusionment and hope.
Make an orange monochrome painting with an adjacent bluish grey. Consider the boundary between the two colors as a way to ponder the supposed contained clarity of self and the borders that define it.
Make a monochrome painting with your own instructions.
Her latest installation ‘The Subject Must Rotate Like The Sun’ (2015) a series of heavily layered abstract paintings, each with the date of completion as its title, pays homage to the writings of Venezuelan poet, Eugenio Montejo, whose writings display a cubist conception of overlapping and simultaneous time and space. The paintings themselves seem to show fragments of places or things, overlapping, from different moments, much like Montejo’s The Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer, a poem made famous by the Hollywood movie 23 Grams.