Monday, August 14, 2006

Diana Guerrero-Macia | 12x12 Space | MCA

Diana Guerrero-Macia | 12x12 Space | Museum of Contemporary Art
October 3-November 2, 2003
Originally Posted on Panel-House: October 2003

Twenty-one years ago, Diana Guerrero-Macia made her first painting in a high school art class. For her show at the 12x12 space she’s reproduced that first painting in her current style, which uses hand-sewn layers of fabric stretched like canvas. The original painting, which is presented along with two recent collages, is an advertisement for a fictional circus. It’s not the size of a poster, but has all the makings of one (beckoning clown, big-top font). The new painting is 300% larger and is one part of a diptych. The other part is an Op Art-style bulls eye. The careful treatment of the materials of the clown panel is overpowered by the sheer graphicness of the vibrating bulls eye, which results in a funny feeling of frustration. The old painting was so faithfully and sensually reproduced, yet we’re not meant to enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from comparing the original to its offspring? No, we’re not, and we’re also not encouraged to revel in the crafting of the bulls eye; its optical effect is so immediate and intense that it might as well have been rendered with paint. This work is Guerrero-Macia thinking about her socialization as an artist—the pressure to know one’s history and to make work that goes beyond what came before. The grandness with which she re-makes her first painting is so qualified by the Op Art quilt next to it, its as if all her book learnin’ is hovering, waving, shouting, “Over here!” If we are a product of our influences, what happens when those influences won’t back down? And if the young artist who painted the fanciful fake circus poster (what is more blatantly naïve subject matter than the circus?) is supposed to be the innocent before the storm of schooling, then the artist who made this 12x12 installation is struggling with her impulses and how to situate herself art historically. This is self-consciousness as art. We are witness to the struggle and are, even, invited to the tent as witnesses. Come one, come all!

Written by Anna Mayer

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