'Living Together', Maillo

Artist: Maillo
Dates: February 16th to March 30th, 2019
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Javier González Panizo

Painting today, now that we are well into the 21st century, why do we do it? What purpose does it serve? We could give reasons, but in the end it’s all idle chatter unless it touches on art’s neuralgic nerve: to change the world. But even with this in mind, nothing is the same: not only do we all have our ideal worlds, we all have our own ideas of how to achieve them. Still, despite it being an impossible task, there is nothing else, no other way. The difficulty? Sustaining yourself solely upon the faith that you can place in art. In this case, painting.

In this sense, if anything characterises not only Maíllo’s paintings but also, and above all, his attitude to the world, it is the unquenchable fount of faith in painting that he distils. A faith that leads him, as in this exhibition, to get as close as possible to the expansive core of painting: what is painting? How does it mediate with the world? What is the creative power it possesses? And if we could summarise all these questions into a single, more original one: what is the relationship between paintings and collectors, the people who contemplate them day after day?

This last, somewhat sidelined question tries to avoid appealing to a broader generality of the public: society, an abstract totality appealed to in vain by contemporary art, using ever more innovative techniques that supposedly allow better communication with the viewer. Even more so in the case of painting, this question arouses considerable suspicion: its absolute objectivity, its decorative and representational power, seem to be to the detriment of its transformative ability.

It is in this position that Maíllo stakes the present of painting and his task as a painter on a wager: if painting has any social function, it must be inferred from looking at it directly, from the spectator’s – and furthermore the collector’s – capacity to engage in a disruptive relationship with the world through painting. Nothing more, nothing less. With no ambiguity whatsoever, without interpretation or victimhood, Maíllo has developed the maturity not to cheat at solitaire: everything is won or lost, but it’s worth it to establish the scope of that upon which we are staking our lives.

To answer (himself), Maíllo finds no other response than to display his paintings, understanding himself as a catalyst of inputs, a translator of iconographic impulses. The gestural mimicry that governs his language is a physiological translation of the will that rules the world: the will to see everything. Thus, Maíllo looks compulsively at screens, exerting a subjectivity subservient to the automation that demands this compulsion. He weaves into his canvases a map of fragments, residues of a deadline temporality like that of the outside world.

In short, Maíllo puts both painting and himself to the test. If there is a way out, if it has a purpose, the usefulness of painting must be based on the transfer provoked by the artist’s gestural mimicry, the impulsive and explosive drift of his maps, in those who contemplate it.

The experience should be similar to that described by Rancière as an model for the elucidation of the “emancipated spectator”: in an issue of Le Tocsin des travailleurs, a revolutionary workers’ journal published in 1848, an article describes a day in the life of a carpenter, working on the parquet flooring in his employer’s room: “imagining himself to be at home, although he has not finished the parquet, he appreciates the layout: if the window overlooks a garden or a picturesque horizon, for a moment he stops the movements of his arms, planning how to enjoy the spacious perspective better than the owners of the neighbouring rooms”.

The issue here is questioning the opposition between looking and acting, understanding that the path towards the emancipation of the spectator begins with the certainty that looking is in itself an action that confirms or transforms. It is not about proposing certain facts, it is not a matter of knowledge; there is no truth to discover under the appearances. It is more a question of sensitivities, of creating a space for the encounter without prior action, a space free of activity where a foreboding “let’s go” is muttered in silence. Maíllo’s own reflections are not very different: “painting thus creates a material toehold, a space where it’s no longer a matter of communicating anything, but instead of transmitting the hospitality and warmth of a home that has been involuntarily filled with belongings”.

Bodies, therefore, in vibration: the painter’s body and the body of the person who arrives home, feeling tired, and contemplates the canvas. Both bodies subject to the vortex of a world-image in constant creation. Both gazes searching for a (dis)connection; not a catharsis but rather the opposite: a renegotiation of the toeholds where reality rests, a tiny displacement of the knot of possibilities to which we are subject. And, above all, an encounter between both, between bodies and gazes, between sensitivities that, in some way, enable us to propose an alternative way to channel the volume of images to which we are subjected.

Is this where we find contemporary painting? Does painting have a similar understanding of itself? But not just painting: is the collector – the person subject to the disjunctive tension of its brushstrokes, day and night – aware of the power of painting? And, says the collector, are we, the viewers, up to such a challenge?

Maíllo (Madrid, 1985) has a degree in Fine Arts from the Complutense University of Madrid.

Represented by Ponce+Robles, in 2019 he inaugurated “Living Together”, his third solo exhibition at the gallery, following on from “Detroit” (2013) and “Enhanced Emptying” (2016). Other individual projects include “Slight Flow” (Galería José Robles, (2012), “Mighty Buckaroo” (Galería Javier Silva, 2012), and “Maíllo in Mallorca” (Addaya Center d’Art Contemporani, 2012, curated by Virginia Torrente). In 2015 he presented his exhibition “Raw Approach”, curated by Tiago de Abreu Pinto, in the Centro de Arte de Alcobendas in Madrid.

He has participated in collective exhibitions including “¡A Vueltas con la Maldita Pintura!” (Museo Colecciones ICO de Madrid, 2011, curated by Juan Ugalde), the Festival Mulafest (2012), Open Studios (2013), the Sala de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid (XXIII touring edition, 2013, curated by Mariano Mayer), and “Ruinas. Paisaje, Periferia” in the Galería Herrero de Tejada (2016). In 2018, he was selected as one of the 10 finalists for the 33rd Premio de Pintura BMW.

His works have also been exhibited at international fairs including ARCO MADRID, JUST MAD, SUMMA, ART LIMA and PARC.

He has been mentioned in many publications, highlights of which include the books “2014/Antes de irse. 40 ideas sobre la pintura” by David Barro and “Arte Contemporáneo Español 1992-2013” by Rafael Doctor Roncero. He forms part of the InTransit platform and Matadero Madrid’s creators’ archive, and he is also involved with the Oral Memories broadcast platform under the umbrella of the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Art Promotion.

His works are also held in various public and private collections throughout Spain, France, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Peru, the United States and Germany.