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Visceral: Rogelio Manzo’s Complex Montages

By F. G. de Aguinaga

We cry out at birth because we have seen death –L. Cardoza y Aragón

The great Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, developed what he called “sculpainting,” to intensify the effects of the mural, which meant working reliefs on the walls that he would later paint over, using plaster, asbestos, cement, or other materials. Rogelio Manzo’s intentions are sculptural, too, yet he has reduced the sculptural volumes to layers that use whatever medium to add form until he achieves the final piece that he transforms into ultra-low reliefs, textured and with many visual levels, transparencies, and backgrounds. What Manzo has done, therefore, is to reinvent the low relief by using today’s techniques in photography, digital graphics, silk-screen printing, transfers, and montage.

“Visceral” by Rogelio Manzo
Thu, Apr 28, 7pm
Until July 24
Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías 75

Manzo’s montages usually begin with a photographic image. He then makes his first artistic intervention in Photoshop. The image is enlarged, printed, and finally transferred to a canvas or resin panel. From there, the work begins. The memory of the person and the experiences and sensations he or she awakens in the artist inspire him to improvise a montage of materials and very low reliefs that he applies one after the other.

The silk threads, in the case of the “Visceral” series, express the idea of the terminus of the nervous system. This series alludes to the core of the anatomy—the nerves, muscles, and organs of the human body—and fits perfectly with the artist’s method. Once the image seems to reach its final form, it is again opened up, deconstructed, and dissected, as if in surgery.

Manzo combines both aspects of sculpture, since this is how material is usually added and later removed, to generate volume and to form the details when one works in clay, plaster, or wax. In the case of wood or stone carving, one only has the option of removing the material. But Manzo works by both adding and removing material, combining photography with digital art and montage. He makes a collage by developing all the elements within reach to encode the complexity of the individual—nuances, chiaroscuros, inner worlds—to make his portraits emotional, psychological, and intellectual x-rays of the people he takes for subjects of his art. In this series, the photographic images of people are added to images of bones or organs, which, together with the threads, reveal more than the sum of elements that is a person.

“Visceral” shows us that behind the wonder of every unique individual lies the miracle of existence of this being but also the fragile and finite connection that breaks unexpectedly and ends the unique and prodigious cycle that forms the life of everyone. In the end this is a series that crudely and poetically confronts us with the clearest reality and truth: We are because we are alive and, therefore, we know we will die.


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