Textos & others
23 June 2016
TO CHOOSE IS TO CREATE
Text for the exhibition Homo Sapiens by Dis Berlin at the Centro Tomás y Valiente, CEART in Fuenlabrada. Curated by Carlos Delgado Mayordomo and José Luis Serzo
TO CHOOSE IS TO CREATE Under Dis Berlin’s pictorial skylight
The assassinated divinity is never forgotten, even though some details of its myth may be forgotten. Even less can one forget that it is after his death that he becomes indispensable to humans. (…) The morphology of these divinities is extremely rich and their myths are numerous. However, there are some common notes that are essential: these divinities are not cosmogonic; they have appeared on Earth after creation and have not remained on it for long; killed by men, they were not avenged and have not even held a grudge against the killers; on the contrary, they have shown them how to profit from their death.
Reality and Myth. Mircea Eliade
Dis Berín plays the role of the artist-demiurge who (re)creates with total will, ambition and perseverance, his own cosmogony, visionary, kaleidoscopic, timeless, quote-unquote, pop, intimate, avant-garde, somewhat psychedelic and metaphysical. Eccentric Dis Berlin, daimonic and cornered to be faithful to a world of its own in continuous luminescence, is at the same time a key and essential piece to understand the Spanish art of the last decades. When I think of the best way to present or represent his figure, I think of that engraving by Grandville, where a sun character happily plays at juggling planets over his head, while a small spectator is illuminated, even sublimated, by the inexplicable wonder that lies before him.
The text by Eliade with which I have decided to open this short introduction could be extrapolated to define what our author has been shaping throughout his prolific career. We would only have to interpret divinity as all the extensive iconography that our author handles, carried out through a collector’s discipline, fetishist even, with which he configures an overwhelming archive since the early 80s, and that could predict, today, his great “masterpiece” the day it comes to light.
Let us then reread Eliade’s text, as we say, borrow it and manipulate it for this presentation: Dis Berlin did not forget the divinity after she was killed, in fact she seems to remember what others forgot; the morphology of her divinities are also extremely rich, and her myths are numerous. Nor are they “cosmogonic”, since many of them appeared on the “Earth” – or on his dissecting table, his study-killer or his easel, taken first, of course, from his overwhelming archive – to be re-created later and inserted into a new and personal mythology. He himself stated in a very illustrative way for the topic at hand: My interest is always on the side of the hermetic, of the enigmatic, of the mystery with which something can be charged that at another time was of a much more mundane nature;… I like what people do not look at anymore.
Dis Berlin is a great collector of images, as many of us know, but above all he is a good viewer (active observer). This is perhaps our artist’s greatest virtue: his exquisite and personal gaze, incandescent, transmuting, clairvoyant, self-absorbed, somewhat melancholic and untransferable poetic; thanks to it he transforms any forgotten icon, object in disuse, anonymous or archetypal figure, any landscape or anodyne room, into something tremendously magnetic and therefore dis-Berlin. His personal gaze is in a sort of conceptual limbo that is inaccessible to rational cataloguing, however clear his influences may appear to him.
His work could be understood as a “cathedral-like” collage in continuous growth, a giant photomontage filtered through a totally recognizable and personal sieve.
To choose is to create, in the words of Dis Berlin himself, affirmation-decree and therefore purpose, which best sums up the virtue of Dis Berlin, also a starting point for deciphering the keys to his eclectic and personal work; it doesn’t matter what he borrows from a popular iconography in disuse, forgotten by many, because his look, his choice, is capable of igniting in them a new and inimitable symbolism.
The world of Berlin seems to orbit in a parallel reality; everything that happens there crystallizes a dance for a new and hopeful beauty; we find echoes, desires and obsessions of a modern, humanistic, exquisite and somewhat sybaritic man. His style never becomes “retro”, nor “vintage”, nor anachronistic, although our artist’s tastes have a predilection for rescuing certain references and artistic trends of the past 20th century. In fact, in his work certain precepts of the avant-garde are reactivated in a new dimension of vivifying meaning, where the kitsch appearance of some is balanced by a pictorial craft of superior depth and sensitivity.
Let’s stop at a play like Beauty and the Beast (figure x). In it we see a naked woman lying, in a self-absorbed way, on a lion that walks on a landscape of pink tones, typical of the disberlinarian atmospheres, in which, for the most part, it is impossible to guess an exact time or a specific season, as if they crystallized a dream or told us about another planet. This image, in my opinion, is absolutely disturbing; above all, knowing its creative conscience, I could affirm that in such a bucolic and apparently sweet image, there is a provocative intention, the result of a fine irony assimilated throughout its trajectory.
Beyond the game of archetypes that these two figures may represent, we cannot avoid the way in which they are represented. Like many others, the somewhat naive style of this painting can even approach an image with oriental, perhaps Hindu, overtones, once again configuring an emblem with connotations that are not only literary, but also legendary and mythological, and which are surely based on an idea or personal experience of the author. Why do I continue to think that we are dealing with a provocative image when what we have in front of us is a scene that we understand to be quite the opposite? Well, because it is not an easy provocation. Within its candid appearance hides a double reading, as could be understood from many of the paintings of a De Chirico in his classic period. The fact is that Dis Berlin owes much not only to the metaphysical stage of the Greek painter, but also to his later stage, the controversial and controversial counter-revolutionary and anti-modern proposal with which he reacted and responded to the entire avant-garde of which he himself was a pioneer. It is therefore logical to suppose that, knowing the admiration that Dis Berlin professes for this controversial author, father of metaphysics and later participant in “the revelation of the great painting”, a work such as The Beauty and the Beast, requires a bold, paused and profound reading. Given the attractive and sweet appearance of his rich universe, Dis Berlin demands an attitude that is not only open, but also minimally cultivated in order to taste the mystery and symbolism with which any of his works are constructed.
We therefore understand that Dis Berlin meditates conscientiously on his images; we are not dealing with a painter of action and dynamic intuition, but with a “thinking” painter, of fine intuition and overwhelming imagination. His trade is a religious one. One only has to get close to his paintings to realize this. His paintings are made on a slow fire, like a dedicated craftsman who, with total respect and skill, humbly weaves the representation of his divinity.
In spite of the distances, Dis Berlín keeps a similar spirit in front of the painting profession; the skins of his paintings are made up of different layers that he carefully applies in formats and supports that have been very well thought out and worked on. These layers, in turn, generate in an indissoluble way, several layers of interpretation, understanding and therefore, of emotion. He paints in this way not only with the purpose of preserving his work, revealing and caring for its future transcendence, but also challenges his own death. On the other hand, the parsimonious elaboration of each work gives them a determining aura, a sifted vibration, thus configuring an enormous Stony Flame, which solidifies the most luminous essence of his inner imagination. This is how, before his paintings, one can realize that experience that good painting can still offer in our days.
Dis Berlin: is the name of a modern and elusive daimon. It catalyzes and channels itself, from and through a chosen branch of many disciplines. His restlessness and creative capacity expand not only through paintings, drawings, collages, photomontages, but also through the third dimension, using objects, sculptures and wonderful installations, which extend his fertile universe without limits.
His eclectic style and varied imagery, which ranges from photography or figurative painting to the most geometric and abstract form, always oozes literary springs, musical evocations, cinematic winks and a melancholic but hopeful poetry, typical of a creator of electrified, lit, radiant and vivifying ectoplasms.
His broad culture allows him to sometimes adopt the role of a refined retro-futurist, reinventing new Dadaist “circuits”, which he owes much to his admired Picabia. He enjoys walking, with his feet always well-shoed, along the tightrope of a spiritual painting, and existential poetics.
Dis Berlin is a daydreamer. A collector of images from another time and of the most disparate objects. He is, as we said and he himself said, a declared immobile traveller, an alchemist of images under a huge skylight where he projects, creates, and connects (with) his own universe.
His figure is linked to a large family of “rare” artists and painters. And by rare I mean those artists who knew how to avoid the hegemonic tastes of their time and contributed a personal voice of tangential resistance through art. Dis Berlin is a totally heterodox artist and therefore bizarre in its two great senses. A lover of finding and discovering forgotten, eccentric, marginal or cursed authors and painters. He himself stated in one of the essential interviews to understand his imaginary: I am passionate about discovering interesting painters, painters that I do not find in the great museums, who have not gone beyond the provincial museums of any city in Europe. His monographs often sleep on the shelves of old bookshops waiting to be rediscovered. He can be proud of having earned a privileged place within that constellation which he himself admires, builds and discovers every day. There we can already find him together with Gustave Courbet, Olidon Redon, De Chirico, Rousseau, Paul Klee, Maruja Mallo, Otto Dix, Balthus, Lindner, Adrew Weith, Francis Bacon, Peter Blake, John Currin or our Solana, Josep Maria Sert, Perez Villalta, Sergio Sanz, González Sainz or Luis Vigil.
Dis Berlin is therefore a creator, a collector, an archaeologist of icons, images and artists who, by luck or misfortune, were left, many of them, sedimented by time. Perhaps our author is partly reflected in those authors who developed their work on the margins of the predominant lines. That is why he enjoys diving and discovering those other hidden stories where he can multiply and exacerbate his passion for photography, exploring places in the shade where the miracle of surprise, the sublimation of his own discovery, can take place.
By José Luis Serzo