(..) Mariño has changed the focus of his work becoming less interested in narrative and altering the compositional syntax of his paintings. Nevertheless, he continues to recycle the visual codes embedded in the pictorial tradition in order to insist on the immanence of art – its nature and reach – as an unparalleled tool of efficient, if symbolic communication.
In turn, he has begun to move beyond his past focus on racism toward what I call an expanded political consciousness that now includes ecology, economic crisis, and war, with their concomitant quotas of violence. Reaching this point in his career, his former obsession with artistic citation has begun to dissolve despite its continued subtle presence in his work. Of course, his approach to the issue of social unrest is not that of the reporter in search of the most tragic storyline or sensational scoop. Mariño departs from them since – as an artist – his vocation is to convert the raw material of reality into spectacle, as mediated by his imagination and creativity.
“If I transform violence into fireworks, into spectacle,” asserts Valeriano Bozal, “at that very moment the most fundamental aspect of violence – its destructive aspect – disappears and we are left with the fog of agitated movements of people and objects...” Nevertheless, there is a metaphor that has stuck with me through the years and it is Achille Bonito Oliva’s phrase which describes the manner in which we consumed the media coverage of the Iraq war and especially the bombing of Baghdad as an innocuous “dew of war.” The ethical dilemma implied by the aestheticization or domestication of such a violent event – from the moment it becomes “breaking news” and is then converted into art through painting – constitutes the axis of the recent work of Armando Mariño.
Appropriating images whose authorship and authority become less important (ordinary, everyday) and to which ordinary mortals have instant access via the web or print media, Mariño launches a new kind of neo-historicism. He atomizes the citation (which is no longer sacred), a process made evident through a procedure of pictorial distancing – a distortion of a distortion, we might say – in which the original reference is totally lost. In this sense we can affirm that his images carry the bastard sign since their true lineage is unknown. And yet, the works continue to carry a certain mysterious aura since they have been converted; extracted from their origins and sublimated into art works.
In a kind of covert operation, Mariño manipulates his “found material,” creating images that verge on abstraction. He alters the initial, literal sense of the image and confuses the spectator with a beautiful image where the essential element is very often exactly what we can not see. We are forced to rely on our other senses to fill in where they can. Thanks to this pictorial treatment, the “epicness” of the image overtakes us, but as an evocation not evidence. Thus, in our perception of the image there is something missing whose very absence hints at the fact that we are viewing an alteration. Moreover, Mariño’s chromatic treatment –bright pigments and fluorescent colors in tune with these times – leaves us with a visual residue that is hedonistic, even perverse. In short, these paintings should not only be seen, but felt in all their fragmentation.
This conscious exile of the evidence (or dissolution of the referent) becomes, by extension, a critique of our political apathy and indifference by dint of living passively with a sublimated or naturalized violence. Its very everydayness makes it invisible. However, Armando Mariño’s entire artistic modus operandi is also a commentary on painting itself. Once again, his discursive substance reappears: The representational capacity of the pictorial, its responsibility as guarantor of tropological ambiguity, and its keen ability to deal both in the arena of the art world and beyond.
As the artist himself has said: “Once again, I am playing with the symbolic status of painting and its capacity to, at once, monumentalize and trivialize human drama.”
 “We are living in a time of the aestheticization of violence.” Valeriano Bozal, interviewed by Urkiri Salaberria.
 Mariño is not necesarily interested in intense or central conflicts but instead in borders and margins, in colateral damage; nothing of the main event but yes to the side-show.
The website will be permanently closed shortly, so please retrieve any content you wish to save.