José Luis Carrascosa

Fúcares Madrid

On a surface level, José Luis Carrascosa’s paintings are about sex and seduction. The pinups painted on Carrascosa’s canvases, ironically titled “Ninfas” (Nymphs), are doubtless entries in a certain contemporary dictionary of erotica, something soft-core like Penthouse. What is truly interesting about them is the degree to which they express tedium. Sex, Carrascosa tells us, is a discourse—one that is extremely various but ultimately always limited.

The same is true of painting. It, too, is a language of possibilities and multiple combinations, but a limited one, and therefore it, too, must play against the problem of repetition, of boredom. As is well known, it was precisely on the level of repetitive tedium that the Marquis de Sade believed “perversion” pointed to the limits of language. Carrascosa explores this double limit of eroticism and painting. In his works, erotic images are sometimes juxtaposed with references to the tradition of painting and at other times superimposed on these images. These references are largely drawn from Abstract Expressionism: pure abstraction, the image with no image, is also a discourse, and this is what the pictorial perversion of Carrascosa unmasks.

What Carrascosa proposes is very contemporary; it is a matter of foregrounding how languages contaminate each other, of demonstrating their rhetorical complexity. His is a sort of noise painting that is surely indebted to Gerhard Richter’s pictorial skepticism. The question Ballester raises in his quasi-photographic pictorial treatment of images is: What is added or leftover when such images are combined with those of another failed medium (that of abstraction with its attendant claim of having constructed a language of pure image)? What is Carrascosa’s intention in throwing one failure against another? That they should mutually erase each other? In that case the superposition of the abstract plane over the figurative one would basically be a puritanical yet Modernist gesture, the masking of an inability, that of producing an image in itself valid and innocent. Or, on the contrary, is it his intention that both failures should become mutually and reciprocally evident? Probably what makes this work so interesting is its ability to keep us on the edge of that doubt, tied to its disquieting double link.

José Luis Brea

Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T. Martin.