Estrella de Diego
Marina Núñez. The other side of the bodies
“6ª Bienal Martínez Guerricabeitia”, catálogo, Fundació General de la Universitat de Valencia 2001, pp. 121-122.


Some years ago —luckily quite a few— there was an absurd discussion with the essential topic of the doubtful «death of the painting». Many asked to ourselves that discussion was referring to because, even accepting that the painting was dead —a fact not very likely—- we needed to set bounds to what painting we were talking about,

And there, in the middle of the discussion, it suddenly came out Marina Núñez painting, although she was painting in a different way or, at least painting different things. Very different.

Marina came from a well designed theoretic field —like many of the artists of her generation— and everything she was doing was based on a precise strategy. The «creative genius», in which an invisible hand gives form to the brush-stroke on the canvas, was a thing of the past. It simply was the old fashioned anecdote of a film that told stories of New York The female younger artists —and some male artists- familiar with the genre theories, couldn’t accept the concept of «genius» as it was manufactured in the Western World: as a male construction of the hegemonic gaze, if excluded them.

And there they were, the girls who knew everything about the gaze, the girls that winked seductively y to that gaze that observed them curious, even excited. There was Marina, painter, of course. And very «good painter» —although she gets upset with me to say this—, intensifying a breach ignited about those years. What death of what painting were we talking about then?

In her Works, Marina Núñez was revising the very notion of the painting, among other things, and what they did that they questioned the mean: in the end, one can be traditional —or not— with independence of the mean he or she wants to use. This way, she used a «classical» mean to tell denied, avoided and even erased stories. Marina Núñez, in their painting, talked about the other side of the body, about all these women that history had forced to vanish —dead, crazy, monstrous women— and by doing that, she was unmasking certain strategies of the dominant discourse, many of its contradictions.

In fact, the women of Marina, apparently beautiful and seductive in a first approach, they became what had to be silent. And thus, the quiet gaze that was curiously examining her —that was also examining the «well painting» of the artist, even though she gets angry with me— was erased by everything she hoped not to see there, not to see ever. Not. to listen to either.

In a very «postconceptual» tactic —and I apologize for the absurd term— Marina seduced the gaze —drove it with her— into a place that she presented as comfortable, and she annihilated it with her tales of crazy and monstrous women, with secrets, with what had been secret and silenced by the western history in the female representation until the 20th century.

In fact, I commented somewhere that the artist belonged to a «postenlighted» generation —my apologies again for the «post»-, because she, the same as some of her contemporaries, were coming back for the hidden as a symptom of the death of the enlightened who foolishly thought that «what is good for one is good for everyone».

The enlightened being, the highest authority in the western thought, was dead, of course. But though many of her proposals, Marina Núñez, the same as other artists of her generation, showed that the painting —if we understand as such not only the use of brush and canvas but also the figure, the most classical form of painting— had never enjoyed such an exultant health.

Not in vain these artists belonged to the generation of the «masquerade» —a term by Joan Riviere. Everything is a disguise or, in order to be more precise, a cultural construction. To thinks that classical stories can only be represented by the use of a «classical» mean is a stupid mistake, as Marina’s trajectory shows.

First of all the artist unveils in her use of painting the familiarity with the mask. Her proposal is inserted in an International political art —and I’m sorry to talk about such a reviled and manipulated term nowadays— that has frequently returned into a kind of «conceptualising figure», so to say. And it’s in these aspects where we find her work interesting. Why not to use a painting that is not «painting as painting» anymore to become painting as another thing, painting as a mean, painting as a missile?

If it is possible to advance a hypothesis, we could say that the use of the painting made by some artists of Marina’s generation not only has to do with their own disguise, as women and artists who work in a conceptual territory, but also with a ruse that goes beyond. Let’s imagine that, in spite of the efforts to insert the conceptual as the usual practice, it is still accepted the picture, the frame, the paint in a more comfortable way by the specialized criticism. This is a very intelligent stratagem, though: to present pictures, that will not produce any suspicion, with a message —with a concept— that goes beyond the form, even though the form is also part of the discourse, of the rebellion in the own discour­se, from the won discourse.

The work we are presenting now belongs to the usual iconography of the artist, those different women that history has taken apart from the representation. Through them, her reflection goes beyond the avoided, it is more than speaking about what we should be silent. She also thinks about those topics that the «figurative painting» —maximum banner of the reality in the classical discourse of the history of art— preferred to obliterate. Women must be beautiful, women must be adapted to the canon: what is not adapted is out. But until when?

Thus, Marina Núñez thinks in her works about painting and about repre­sentation. That’s not bad at all. And she catches the gaze in an image of beauty with a borrowed piece, the other side of the bodies. With a piece that follows the rules of Zeuxis in his proposal for the representation of beauty: the most beauti­ful woman is that woman made of the most beautiful parts of the prettiest women. In her image, the «mistake», the part doesn’t correspond, reveals the abyss of the constructions of the canon in the European painting. The paradox, as it often happens with the work by Marina Núñez, is ready. Maybe because, as it says Homi Bhabha, the «other is listening, even when we believe we are spe­aking «among us».