Mi español es terrible. Pero … cuando fue eso me detuviste?
O devo passare a terribili italiano?
Oh, why should I make you suffer …
A contemporary Spanish artist, Ibáñez paints from strong ethical convictions that drive him to uncover the elements of society and religion that burden people. In a postmodern style that takes iconography from Baroque and classical art, he criticises the persistence of poverty, repression, hypocrisy and mass-media banality while celebrating beauty and pleasure…
While in Central America, he had the opportunity to travel around El Salvador and Guatemala. His reaction to the living conditions he encountered is described by writer and educationalist Juan José Ceba as ‘real shock – an extreme emotional disturbance that influenced his way of understanding art as a vehicle of criticism’. Ibáñez produced 20 portraits of the ‘human landscape’ of the two countries, ‘vibrant in colour but also in pain, showing the misery and dignity of their characters’. He donated the works to UNICEF to be sold to fund construction of schools in El Salvador, and the charity awarded him their national medal in recognition of his important contribution.
Returning to Europe questioning how the Catholic hierarchy and the wealthy and powerful could acquiesce to the poverty around them, and angry about their misinterpretations of the essence of the Christian gospel, Ibáñez produced a series of paintings titled ‘The Fallacy of the Sign’ (2000–2001). It represents the artist’s mature style both in its presentation of traditional iconography with a modern twist and in its subject matter, full of symbolic references to sin …
A ‘Venice’ collection … like ‘The Fallacy of the Sign’ is a series laden with symbolism which explores power and submission, sensuality and modern fashion. (1)
And thus we have the decadent Holofernes in his Venetian bauta mask, prostrate after a night of debauchery. Stalked by Judith in her haute couture finery with a tasseled fencing foil. And behind the curtain on the lower right, is that the maid peeking out of the shadow? Honestly, it is difficult to develop sympathy for Judith here. She seems less like a valiant defender of her country and more like a grasping socialite avenging a bad bikini wax or a knock-off handbag.
But maybe that is my bias against skinny chicks in designer sunglasses and sequined bandeaus. Maybe she is really coming to save the lives and return the wealth to her disadvantaged countrymen.
Y luego … probablemente no.
(1) Andrés García Ibáñez, www.artadoo.com