I was here
Is it still acceptable to conceive of contemporary art in terms of affiliations, in terms of longstanding stylistic constants? Francisco Amatriain’s work brings to the scene the continuity of realism, its constancy in Argentine art, its continual and mutating ability to be embraced as narrative of daily life. Amatriain is familiar with the use of open resources, employed as early as the nineteenth century, to produce images: the passage from photography to drawing and painting. Thus focus endures, the elimination of that which does not ensue within the space focused on and that we must infer for the sake of narrative continuity. He affirms a passage through life on the basis of immediate relations with no stridency, no heroic tales. Hence, there are conversations where we hear only one of the voices, images where we suppose latent despair, the pointless wandering amidst the work of others.
Amatriain knows the scope of the realist image; no need to weigh it down with ideological discourse in order to set it off. Thus, he is more akin to the realisms of the seventies than to the political realisms of earlier decades. It may perhaps suffice to indicate the absence of the exceptionality of man in late modern society, a life that ensues through minimal identifications no more than an arm’s length away. The initial digital shot is secondary; the choices more indebted to an internalized art history hold more interest: seeing the Renaissance model in a friend’s face, the reflective baroque at play in a simple taxi ride, the expressionism in faces at the end of a long night, the cut of the frame reminiscent of geometry, the Caravaggio-like chiaroscuro of the flock of Nordic birds. The use of optical mechanisms, the descriptive vision resulting from new and commonplace image technologies, in no way determines the pictorial. That can look only to a longstanding visual tradition. These images partake more of other images than of technological changes.
Amatriain seems to understand the complex relationship between realism and the expression of an idea about society today (photography is, then, a replica; we cannot understand it except through the mediation of an image): the lack of narrative continuity, the denial of a center to the composition, the constant change in point of view, the importance of secondary figures, the pursuit of celebration within celebration. This vision, then, is tremendously lonely; it is the vision of one who walks along, leaving losses behind, and takes refuge in the moment when the night may possibly mitigate the certainty of the morning.