In the end we suddenly realise that we are alone with ourselves; and our filial affections, the love of our fellow man, our spiritual and carnal desires –perhaps all together, as the orgy that is the mind would find ideal– make up a human state of being that attempts to replace what is missing: what is suffocated in our solitude from the cradle to the grave. And the pain, that pain that comes with solitude, the solitude of the castaway, of the prisoner in the dungeon, of the Saint -disregarded in his present and canonised in his future-, of the common man and woman of today –also of the not so common, who view us from above as if we were ants that could be crushed or hung; all this pain turns us into maniacs for a martyrology that is perhaps ancestral and established in western culture to allow us to take pleasure from what gives us pain.
Martyrdom has many facets, most speak to us of a future attainable through certain sacrifices, a dream of a place and time that will never come. But when martyrdom becomes twisted it twists into the human island –we are like walking sacks with a little soul– in the most deathlike and untimely manner, leaving us homesick and alienated until we feel solitude as a nihilus phenomenum.
Philosophy, poetry, sonorous and visual emotiveness, scientific or mystical hypotheses–… many lines of thought– much of these stage the debate between the meaning of the relationship and its antonymy. And there they have been, hidden surreptitiously between baroque tenebrism, collapsed beneath romanticisms, Oriental escapism, inner searching, existential breaths, Dadaist slaps in the face; until the point of inexplicably listening to God or entering into the paradoxes that–I’ll recall it once more– rhetorically carry an absence of explanation.
Thus there is an occult nexus between life, the essence of being, and the inexplicable, the land of mystery. And although the cause of this fear of existence is not impenetrable –which brings us day after day closer to death– it is celebrated by some, in some places it is mocked and there are even apologists with its inherent entropy.
Further into excessive discourse Cayetano Ferrández does not like to go. He asserts this, and it is as if he were between Laconia and a fictional island called Esceptus. He appears sceptical, as if he were outside his own time. After all the modernity, from where much of comes, he agonised over this vocation for the progress that established the human being within a social structure. After this modernity came the individual to be the levitated caryatid, the support for something ignored in the day to day of the prosaic, with its threads more and more present in and part of art, that’s what strikes me most, he turned to cultural resistance. He stirred up other questions around power and Power. And gradually another state has arrived, where descent is now not revolutionary but comes in small doses; although it exists in disagreement with reality, further away than the aesthetic, towards the space which is that of life.
For this reason he disagrees, this is his time. This is the time to move things until we take the habitual train of thought to its death throes; little by little we can bore through the mountain. And it is his moment of dissent against an aesthetic imported into his land. I know that Tano, along with many others struggling with their creative integrity, is made uncomfortable by the increasingly cosmetic art world he moves in, he is exasperated by the way the market for cultural and symbolic value replaces cultural logic with those packets, so well designed by mainstream America since the 1950s –this huge financial mover from which Foucault wanted to exorcise himself. From this node, that chops up the spiritual nature of art to reduce it to a currency, drink many of today’s institutions. And from them the artists in favour for being politically correct at the right time.
And Tano escapes, because the art that calls him is that of Spain, impoverished in other fields with respect to Europe; but rich in observations on life and death, on shelter and on human neglect.
The Iberiazation of this area created a new holy land that cooked as well as carbonised, praised as well as incinerated the Christian that, although incredulous today, inhabits these places. And from there a Beato de Liébana –midway through the expulsion of the Muslims, an Espanoletto born after the rebirth, a restrained and moralistic Zurbarán, a humanist like Velázquez –with man as its centre until it arrived at the holy areola. Or a deafened Francisco who honoured his Luciente surname and went down from heaven to hell to scrutinize the man as well. With him went death, therefore a type of solitude, with less fear than we have today although paradoxically life is so little respected.
As with half of cubism and surrealism there was devotion and revival. The former because it challenged the real state of things in space, and the perception of life changed in art. The other because it reopened an almost closed door –as Marcel del Gran Vidrio said– in the inquisitorial darkness, that reminded us of that other world where we go fully alone: that of dreams and nightmares –and we return to Goya.
I have wanted, perhaps unsuccessfully, to dissect his photography . To go further than the technical of much criticism, which I prefer to leave because of its exacerbated formality, I’m interested in submerging myself in the lugubriousness and the solitude of his creations. Tano is a set maker with conceptual interests, although he makes them through a relatively minimalist representation. He celebrates that tenebrism that centuries ago spoke of the incompleteness, the imperfection of man: being fatuous that in his vanity he believes himself capable of anything and for that he has fallen so far. It evokes the core of death, which is also the core of life, like that perspective that announces to us all what it does towards the end and because of this fear it tries to place a halo over itself with the creation of something durable.
In this direction the work of Tano is scatological, it announces the end. And the breathlessness or the bitterness become poetic wafts. His sets are like allegedly captured events, mute performances that take us to the dilemma between Zeus and Prometeo, between God and his son, to the trauma of Asmodeo or of the descendent of Geppetto. Where hope always lies and with it expiation.
It would be a long series of ……….., or a long etcetera, to rehearse what has been rehearsed by better neighbours of the process of this culture of martyrology. More if I leave exactly what Cayetano absorbs of the honey and bile of his culture –here with only a part of the visual seen. And note that the human dilemma, of his malrauxiana condition, make us members of a club in which we learn the chant of the swan to grade us by flows and reflows from the first throb to the final interruption of a private mode –all cultures turn to it– and indicate a strange beauty existing in pain, in bewitching or the sorcery of the human sphere –and Tano knows of spheres in his photography . In the background solitude that buries you if you cannot cope with it or levitates you if you find your support in it.
Elche–Altea, February-March 2005.
Master in History of Art.
University Professor, critic
and visual arts commissioner.