The dissimulation of the real

Painting cannot be a simulation of the real, for it would create deceiving images. Painting should be more of a recreation of that reality altering the rules, setting “impossible” models and making them possible through the transformation of its natural conditions.

Painting cannot be a simulation of reality, because that reality exists already. So painting, good painting should tend to conceal nature, hide things and details, deconstruct elements in such a subtle manner that we will believe we are witnessing reality when we are facing not what we think we are facing but a certain perversion of the rules- a “perversion” of the rules that tricks the mind like a trompe l’oeil but does not deceive the mind.

The characters Jabi Machado creates, halfway between the grotesque and the ghostly, between the “daimon” and a fairytale (heir to Goya and his sarcasm) escape reality with the inclusion of certain specific elements and the deformation of others, but using reality, their reality and nature. Thus Machado is not inventing anything after all but simply reconstructing, altering reality in a way that makes us believe those grotesque deformations in their characters truly do exist.

Actual people, everyday situations, well-known landscapes, cityscapes and streets we have walked or may walk any moment. Situations we find ourselves in once and again… altered in such a way that they become a masquerade.

In Machado’s oeuvre we find horsemen reminiscent of British painting (Cuadro falso), or small-town festivals (Cruci-ficción) where the characters are on the verge of the grotesque, plus always the inclusion of an unsettling, odd and disconcerting element.

Machado’s world is full of characters that seem to have escaped a circus, wearing unlikely-but-perfectly possible attires. Hence the dissimulation of reality- those characters are faking their eccentricity, or perhaps they are outright crazy.

In Machado’s paintings (such as El hombre y el otro, Les trois planets, Eliot o la musica escapade, L’homme antenne) we find spaces in which certain elements (a mattress hanging from the ceiling, for example) create that discordance I mentioned earlier and recalls a certain “surrealism revived”. However, Machado’s art is neither surrealist nor metaphysic. Instead, it is more of a pyschological exploration from which to delve and dive in the feelings, lackings, absences, happiness and transformations of common places and situations. Machado’s “freaks” are odd, but they wound up being familiar and lovable.

Celebrations and festivities are prevalent in the artist’s paintings (works such as La cremat and Nocturno), but a fiesta transformed in a space for disagreement and discord, with characters that are there but do not belong in the festive scene.

In some of Machado’s works, a complex and daring analysis of an extreme situation and the desperation faced in those moments. In paintings such as La ciudad cobarde, the artista changes the scale, shrinking the treacherous city and enlarging, magnifying the man and his actions. And yet it all still is a big farce, all the world’s a stage and the curtain falls, but we are invited to peek inside.

And here we find one of the most pressing questions regarding Machado’s art: what is really happening inside? The complexity of the artist’s oeuvre and the amount of “things” happening in one single painting can be rather puzzling. The characters happen, the scenes happen, nature happens, the space happens. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the artist never simulates or pretends, but instead conceals and masks what actually happens in his paintings.

Through this dissimulation, Jabi Machado creates spaces beyond the limits of the canvas, in a sort of painting in the expanded field that dissolves the line framing the canvas and incorporates a number of abnormalities in the composition that few artists would dare approach.

In conclusion, Machado’s work is an act of make believe, because painting is never real but a guise.

Juan Ramón Barbancho (translated by Bruno LeMieux-Ruibal)