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La vida es cualquier cosa

 Martín Salinas

Text: Silvina Pirraglia

12.09.20 - 24.10.20

A painting for life

For him, miniaturizing also meant making useless:
“What is reduced is in a way freed of meaning.
Its smallness is, at the same time, a whole and a fragment.
The love of the small is a childish emotion "
Enrique Vila-Matas

    The intimate journal for literature has been par excellence a carefree genre of forms and a practice of writing that accompanies and underpins life. There are newspapers that are depositories of unspeakable truths, newspapers that bear witness to an era, in which we reflect on the writing itself or the place of literature. Diaries accompanying illness (Katherine Mansfield) and grief (Roland Barthes). Diaries that are written to keep the pulse of writing (all) and whose entries, due to their more or less regular frequency, become the refuge of seemingly inconsequential issues, of physiological processes, of trifles that might not find their place in other ways of literature. In this sense, newspapers at the time of their writing are a refuge to which the literary radiation has not yet reached, where an "unstable self" is presented, although a future is conjectured. Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal on April 20, 1919: “What kind of journal would I like mine to be? Something not very compact in texture without being disheveled, so elastic as to contain everything that goes through my head, both the solemn, the insignificant and the beautiful. I would like it to resemble some deep desk of yesteryear, or a spacious trunk into which a number of rags and scraps are thrown without stopping to choose them. "

    In the same way, sketchbooks and artists' notebooks are those asylums or small portable laboratories, where what a posteriori could become a work is rehearsed, but especially, they are supports where thought is built around the craft and artistic creation; where references, impressions of the environment, states of mind are overturned: the pure present that one tries to catch in some way.

    Like a brazen record of what happens, the small oil paintings on mounted canvas that are presented in La vida es cualquier cosa retain that processual and unstable condition of the artist's diary or notebook. Due to their size and “portable nature”, they could well function as illustrated book covers or be related to productions in the line of artists such as Maira Kalman in The Principles of Uncertainty , who approaches illustration from the humorous record of personal events in the life in New York City throughout the year, in relation to history and traditions.

    In this anyism to which Martín Salinas is encouraged, in which abstraction and childlike figuration coexist, we do not find revealed truths or confessions without mediation, but with works where the everyday is recorded and the random relationships that arise between what is seen, what is read and what happens on the plane of the painting. In a dialogue with Martín, he comments: “Doing guides me. For me it remains very mysterious when something works and when it doesn't. There are no ideas so strongly preconceived.  

Sometimes what triggers the work is an element or an inconsequential vision, like the shoe of a traditional painting that I bought in a residence in Ecuador and that I see every day at home. And what interests me the most is that shoe with a heel and I don't care what I'm going to make it live with in my painting. For you they are bowling, for my brother they are peanuts! And literature. Nothing makes me happier than reading. I extract quotes from what I read and from conversations, and write them in my notebook. Many times I lose their reference ”. There are paintings with more ornamental inclinations: repeating patterns such as polka dots, sinusoid motifs, ovals. And a profuse presence of vases and vessels that are a nod to the work of the American artist Betty Woodman. And there are flowers (many flowers) in the manner of "naive painting", by artists such as José Luis Menghi, Luis Centurión, or even Mariette Lydis, whom Salinas paid attention to and who has come to buy some work online. And there are the architectures, constructions and facades that are very far from Martín's work as an architect. Those small models, scenographies and settings that are seen in the paintings, some with crooked grids and out of all order, with curtains, edges with wavy shapes like pastries, seem to be projected by a fantasy architect whose clients are those characters represented in the same paintings: the man with a too big head due to excess neurosis; bowling or peanuts? with tacos; the egg face that smiles through a window; the horseshoes with puzzled eyes; the little snowman who waits alone next to a Brancusian tower ... Like a traveling painter whose passport was withheld and who dreams of the urge to renew his gaze, Salinas includes a whole series of "atmospheric landscapes" that share a certain condition of the unfinished, which respond to a way of painting and drawing that he has maintained for years and that is separated, perhaps, from all the rest.

Heroin addicts or we need to talk about the ceramics

There is no other world.
There is just another way to live
Jacques mesrine

    Martín shared the same workspace for a year and a half with the artist Lorena Fernández. What you could see when you entered the workshop were well-defined spaces: his was chaotic and hers was pristine. But there were materials that could belong to one or another. Things he treasured could be hers and vice versa. After a few months of each of them working on their projects, Martín suggested that they make some vases. They called that duet Braian Pink .

   Lorena comments that “the origin of ceramics was to do something together, something that summoned us both. Many of the models that he made at one point were very similar to the photos that I was working on. We did the same in different formats.  Ceramics were like a place that we were interested in getting to for different reasons, and it was the work  autonomous, a meeting point. They represent the desire to do something together. The idea is  product of the bond and it is undetectable where it really comes from ”.

    "We can make a sample called heroin addicts ," suggested Martin. What remained of that name was the concept of heroin, something that Lorena was working on at that time for a solo show that did not materialize and had to do with the life of a woman. After months of trial and error, those vases became weapons or armor: a sword, a shield, a bracelet, a bomb, a miguelito. They are weapons and armor displaced from their function. Both agree that they could not have been conceived in the solitude of their workshops or as individual ideas. They are imperfect, uncontrolled vases, vases just because. They are the ridiculous trousseau of a heroine , according to both of them. Will these finally be the most suitable weapons and armor to get through these times? Because, what do you do when the lack of the outside congests the inside?
    It could be said that some time ago we stopped asking ourselves what art is and we have been trying ways to enunciate what art enables: a system of thought, a “methodology for knowledge” as Luis Camnitzer says, a space for experimentation, forms of be with others, a place to go to make life more bearable. Let us have no doubt that life is anything.






Silvina Pirraglia
Buenos Aires, September 2020.

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