«I think that beauty is that moment of contradiction that an image can have, of absolute seduction and absolute repulsion. … Beauty as something that has a lot of meaning, but which loses it and opens up a space to you. That is exactly what I try to do in my work: not to say something or to create a specific allegory or discourse, but to create the possibility for a viewer to be able to associate his or her own idea within a composition of images.» (Carlos Amorales in conversation with Hans-Michael Herzog, Zurich, March 29, 2007, in the exhibition catalogue «Carlos Amorales: Dark Mirror»)
Freedom of art
Carlos Amorales is an artist unlike most others. Superficially, his works seem almost «simple» and orderly. A closer look, however, will reveal complex depths and abysses: specifically, as soon as we attempt to grasp his art. For like all good art, it eludes immediate comprehension; ultimately, it is not the artist’s intention to produce general understanding. In this sense, Carlos Amorales is an «old» and «wise» artist from an earlier epoch, as it were, who values, above all, the freedom of his artistic expression. This is what he aspires to—and what he achieves. He observes his work as if from the outside, from a considerable distance, as if seeing it for the first time, with a friendly, slightly mischievous smile, his arms folded.
Casual and apparently effortless, Carlos Amorales transcends all media and genres. Ever on the lookout for conceptual innovation, he nevertheless adheres to a topic for many years in order to thoroughly explore it, as with «lucha libre», his «liquid archive», the creation of numerous videos and films, and also his start-up with the pop rock record label «Nuevos Ricos» in the noughties of our century, «to fill our cultural void» (C. Amorales). Carlos is always refreshingly surprising, invariably up to date, and absolutely hip in terms of his aesthetics and morphology. In his aesthetically amoralized works, he reflects the endless fragmentation of our hybridized world.
Certain features run through Carlos Amorales’s works like a red thread. He creates collages, but in a manner entirely different from his major historical colleagues Schwitters or Rauschenberg. Carlos conceptually joins what does not belong together; he boldly juggles with his iconographic materials, granting substantial significance to the unconscious. He also possesses a strong sense of dramatic staging and of the expressive gesturalism related to silent films. Carlos uses graphical means to virtually freeze all these subjective elements that permeate his art. His «Liquid Archive» stands testimony to the overriding importance of graphics in his creation:
The «Liquid Archive» is an ongoing process that started some twenty years ago, which we presented in its then existing state in our Zurich exhibition spaces in 2007. The archive is Carlos’ pictorial graphical pool, his iconographic repertoire, composed of his own inventions and creations and objects found in various media. It is originally an entirely subjective and individual compilation of an intimate character, actually unique notations, like the classic «artist’s drawings» bearing the artist’s typical and distinctive style—with the exception that Carlos has «liquified» his drawings, that is to say that in his specific case, the graphics exist only virtually, in the computer, as vectorial drawings. They are also liquid in the sense that they are absolutely (de)formable and arbitrarily combinable and changeable by the user. Carlos is thus making his personal, fragmented universe available to us for playful interaction, as a fluidic interface that we can bring to life ourselves by virtue of our own imagination, stimulated by his pictorial material.
Virtual flow of ideas
The archive manifests itself in silhouette-style, stencil-like drawings cut out by laser printing, which we are invited to scale, deform, overlay, and collate at will. Originally developed as a way of personal self-affirmation (not unlike Gerhard Richter’s «Atlas», but less tenacious), Carlos Amorales’s «Liquid Archive» presents a very personal repertoire of graphics and forms made available to us as potential idea-raisers. It operates like a vocabulary or an alphabet that we can use to spell out our own words and sentences and develop our own language. The «Liquid Archive» is a type case filled with letterpress sorts, as traditionally used in printing, with plates of various letters, ligatures, and symbols that we can assemble again and again.
If we follow Carlos Amorales’s personal artistic interpretation of his own archive, we come across enigmatic, phantasmagorial collages that are difficult to decipher and that narrate of fragility and peril. Archaic and archetypal images metamorphorically, magically merge with high tech and lead us into undreamed-of worlds of perception and imagination – Carlos’s works create the desire for more.
«It’s not so much art in itself that bores me as the art world.» (Carlos Amorales, 2007)