«Paintant Stories» from 2000 is Fabian Marcaccio’s magnum opus—a matchless multimedia gesamtkunstwerk, a «mural» in the best sense of the word, with a steady height of a good four meters and a length of over 100 meters sprawling through the exhibition spaces and also trailing beyond, if need be outdoors, too. «Paintant Stories» is a contemporary history painting, a universal panorama of the world, a pictorial hybrid description of our time, with all its utterly mind-boggling complexity, all its ultimate incomprehensibility.
Mixing materials, media, and meanings
Fabian Marcaccio conceived and composed «Paintant Stories» as a hybrid hypermedium on the monitor at the Warner Brothers Studios in California. Computer-generated images and prefabricated pictorial parts merge and mingle; direct painting meets digital plotter. Many of the expressive, gestural brush strokes in these «paintants» are actually computer-generated. The hybrid content of «Paintant Stories» is directly reflected in their «making-of»: painting that talks about painting!
A symphony and cacophony at the same time, it lives on and with all contrasts and contradictions of our world, which run like a thread through this seemingly endless work. Marcaccio coined the word «paintant» to refer to the active role of the work with regard to the viewer: It unwinds before our eyes like a continuous film in super cinemascope format, remaining, however, immobile, like an endless stream of pictures and information that seems to have been stopped deliberately at a specific moment for us, the observers. We are called upon to find the pictures and to filter them from the baroque overflow of information.
We experience an intense, unfiltered mental impact to which we all but helplessly surrender when we first look at this stream of pictures and try to take it in. Although frozen in time and space, these canvases nevertheless exude a dynamic pulsation. Different readabilities arise depending on our present state of mind and our objective distance from the painting. At close range, at a three-meter distance, or at ten meters we recognize three entirely different image planes, which perpetually overlap according to our spontaneous perception, which jump back and forth and have us constantly fluctuate between the different contents of the image planes. Large images are invaded by micro images and vice versa, all planes of form and of content incessantly overlapping. We are exposed to a permanent background noise, an information overkill full of impurities and contaminations. Successful «multitasking» is the key skill to somehow navigate the flood of images and pick out individual sequences of meaning. Unforeseeable concatenations, multiple hybridized recaps of individual motifs, and reverberations of all kinds make for even more complexity: After inspecting the full hundred meters of image length, we can simply return and start again with the impression of looking at an entirely new picture that we have never seen before…
Fabian Marcaccio’s «Paintant Stories» live on discontinuity and immanent disruptions, on endless fragmentation. Contradictions, inconsistencies, and contrasts abound: figuration meets abstraction, chaos meets order, materiality—acrylics, silicones, polymers, vinyls—meets immateriality. A wild staccato of a vulgar, garish gesturalism abruptly switches into fine poetry and subtle painting. Again and again, we are confronted with orgiastic, yet controlled and frozen eruptions. We perceive this splintered network of discontinuities in its fragmented, synthesized, hybrid technique, featuring issues that range from politics, society, economics, sex, to violence, and also to art history, flashing up and exemplarily reflecting the condition humaine of our 21st century.
Art critics have difficulties with suchlike complex imagery; they enjoy works that are more easily digestible. Simple minds tend to favor the straightforward and are more ready to celebrate the avant-garde of the 1960s than to give fundamental thought what actually constitutes the avant-garde of today… Art criticism therefore preferably shrouded itself in bashful silence with regard to Marcaccio’s «Paintant Stories»— simply because no one has yet ventured to define the criteria for judging such a work.
«I’m looking for balance rather than beauty, but it’s really a balance of chaos, a kind of trying not to reduce, to maintain a complexity. There’s no difference for me between the work and my conception of life in itself.» (Fabian Marcaccio, in: Conversation between Hans-Michael Herzog and Fabian Marcaccio, Paintant Stories, Exhibition Catalogue, Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich 2005, p.101)