"To disappear into deep water or to disappear toward a far horizon, to become part of depth of infinity, such is the destiny of man that finds its image in the destiny of water."
Gaston Bachelard. Water and Dreams. 1942.
Art is a creative experience that merges the alchemy of science and the metaphoric journey of art. One of the Jungian archetypes in mythology is the artist-scientist, a unique process of abstraction of the human mind. Within that experimental approach is the work of Enrique Machado, an emerging contemporary artist that has placed his work imaginary in the coordinates of Miami. A global city with an archipelago of nationalities and cultures that become a unique urban setting for the evident and unavoidable intensity of global relations and cultural exchanges of a broad geographical scale.
Silicone a synthetic compound, inert, with polymers together with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen constitutes an ever-present component in everyday life with no marked harmful effects on organisms in the environment. That is the experimental expressive territory of Enrique, alchemy with one of science, modern universal materials (silicone) with the visual narrative of contemporary art (painting).
Enrique, a sculpture-artist that emerged from the prestigious New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. and who crossed the border of painting, is, however a creative mind which is constantly thinking on the possibilities of the three-dimensional. His paintings marked by the trace, texture and feel of the silicone, each of his paintings seem to follow a plan, every artistic action concerning his silicone paintings seem to descend from his universe of concepts and define territories within the frame.
These territories created by his silicone traces, forms and color patterns possess their own history and vitality, their personal magnetism, in reaction, placing the viewer beyond the bounds of functional logic. Enrique’s paintings do not hold autonomy of any kind, the space he has conquered takes the shape of a proposal of expressive methods. The pattern of the spiral and the labyrinth [ancestral symbols of mythological and religious significance] in many of his paintings bring the no temporal value of unexpected symbols. As in the case of the painting “Tunnel Wave #2."
His art is a dialectic confrontation in the world of virtual assumptions and the physical appeal of things. As the artist expresses; “I try to communicate the language of chaos and balanced simplicity explored through the movement found in the ocean, waves, and water. I form textures that exude clashing forces. A metaphor for constant change and battle. Topics of persistence, power, overwhelming, drowning, and destruction exaggerate with controlled clumps and goop of overlaid piles of dripping silicone patterns."
Enrique’s use of silicone places traces and patterns central to his art, becoming essential in his artwork when one loses the measure of the dimension, but still the artist revises the principle of composition as order and intertwine, which he accomplishes on extensive ample surfaces or in environmental urban murals.
Other artists have approached the silicone qualities as a base for their work. Such as, London-based sculptor Ron Mueck or Sam Jinks an Australian visual artist, both from a hyper-realist conceptual approach. Cosmo Wenman in the stream of reproducing fragments of art history combined with his contemporary proposals; and Daniel Widrig, a London based artist, moving in similar directions of Enrique. Where sculpture, topographic expressions, design and architecture seem to be related exploration fields.
His departure from a particular material as a tool for expression is not an easy task, it’s a risky decision, but is also an identity matter. The artist’s decision to work the silicone can be a rewarding experimental, challenging experience, but it can also become a dead end expression tool. However, the experimental character of the artist is rooted in his approach to life, his living context and his conceptual framework, as he states; “My work is about the organization and control of the materials. My goal is to further explore the esthetic characteristics of these materials and to communicate a new concept of textured art expressing movement and rich visual patterns within the study of water and its rhythm."
To write about art is always a complex risk. Where questions of cultural identity, artistic trends, migration, transnational influences, the local/global concern and our growing consciousness of a networked social environment are just a few issues of the environment in which contemporary art maps, how and why our cultural values are formed and transformed. Writing about an emerging artist is much more complicated since the extended body of work with its strength and integrity is to be established, but is still part of an ongoing process, a journey into the future where its long-term ramifications are to develop.
In the case of Enrique Machado, his art is part of an ongoing experiment process. His studio a creative lab, where the exploration of materials, textures, color and search for a balanced expression are vital to his life context in which water, light, human communication and organic flow within the segments of the art that he creates. His Red Crash series of paintings is an example.
Talent, education of talent and capacity to communicate, is a way to define the character of a real artist. Machado has gone through the path of educating his artistic talent through a comprehensive training. It started at South Miami Middle School (Magnet Art School), the prestigious Design and Architecture High School, a graduate from the renowned New World School of the Arts in 2004; he then was awarded a scholarship to the Kansas City Art Institute. His understanding of communicating through art implies that artists produce knowledge prompted by the constant change in the context of cross-cultural interactions. His perception of art history as a key referential tool permits him to study Van Gogh and Jeff Koons in a symmetrical relation of experiences of intense communicative nuance and complexity. He tries to learn from history in parallel to the world he lives in, half local, half global...
His studio, the experiments and research, he works with, departing from silicone as an essential material are his vital artistic actions. Talking with this young artist about his aspirations and visions of his work he expresses that his work with the surface and the silicone does somehow not want to do what all other painters have done before him. Similar to a great modern artist like Jackson Pollock, Machado seems to search the path of an unorthodox approach to painting unconventional pictures. That is his challenge.
In the apocalyptic vision of XXI century, frantic environmentalists alert us that the city of Miami will be underwater in a few years, swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean. More discreet environmental science researchers explain that changes are occurring and that like any other oceanfront port city; Miami might be affected by alterations by the masses of water. In a decade marked by an overflow of over-simplistic information, a world of digital performance and spectacle, Enrique’s metaphor on Miami, on water, on movement, abstraction and imagination make its balanced presence through his artwork, with his Wave Series, the Crash Series and his Running Water Series. After all Enrique Machado is Miami, is water, is the environment and urban diversity, is about looking for a center in things. Enrique is about the exercise of viewing and discovering the possibility of looking again with no rush, calmly in peace, bringing out all the necessary questions that his visual metaphors bring to our eyes. His energetic but subtle paintings call for reflection bending it towards its force.
In this context, I am referring to the simple fact that in the last decade’s art and visual culture seem to have undeniably abandoned the concepts of harmony and balance that for centuries have privileged art aesthetic experience. Machado seems to have understood this before anything else, and he seems to warn us that far more simply art is a way to dialogue with that which exists. As a young artist that is his challenge. Like mute poems, the Miami artist evocative water waves, movements and turns resonate with suggestiveness without explicitly revealing their meanings.
Jorge Luis Gutierrez
July 2014. ©