Staging is one of our foremost abilities. With ease, we perpetuate what the artists from the Baroque did: We decorate tombs and churches, paying no attention to the creed. We stage as rituals, the banquets, the dresses, the hairstyles, and the sweet sixteen cakes. The rhetoric of politicians and poets, about the national landscape, reaches tones and adornments similar to those of the fiambre –a typical and very colorful Guatemalan dish-. If we ambition a modern project or a postmodern one, it is impossible to imagine it without the validity of religious frenzy, the crucified bodies, the apocalyptic drama, or without taking notice to our highest and lowest passions. Some people say that where there is nothing, nothing can be thrown away.

The above said is the best framework for situating Mario Santizo’s artwork. His work terrifies and unveils moral taboos or crucifixes of all possible colors. It disturbs the conscience of good people, which more often than not is just one step closer to their fascination. Finding oneself in front of these marvelous digital arrangements is like watching a Japanese version of The Passion of the Christ, without subtitles.

But good people have it right with something: since Mario showed his version of The Surrender of Breda, in the last Biennial of Art Paiz, we forgot to highlight him as one of the most promising artists of Guatemala, and to explain the justification for his cynicism and the intention behind his remakes of famous scenes. Inspired by the best of Ionesco and Primus, Mario has created baroque and exhausting universes, to give some humor to decompress the traumatic experiences that happen in the different spheres of the public and private arenas. The Surrender of Breda is one of the masterpieces of the Sevillian painter, Diego de Velasquez. For Mario it is an excuse to represent the situation of the common folk and of the Guatemalan disenfranchised lot that, enmeshed in absurdity and lack of proportion, surrender their cellphones in turn for their lives. This is also a piece that provokes a Carnival like sensation: the cross-dressing of the artist, where the power of the mask is presented as an act of permissiveness, and opposed to the representation of the character’s sexuality.

 This piece, in particular, gives life to a collage of clown/robbers and murderers, which conspire in a montage of characters that populate the urban landscape and oral tradition of Guatemala. In the case of Mario’s The Surrender there is an analogous relationship with the original one from Velasquez, so much to criticize the institutional bases of the plastic arts, as to think about the blurred identities of the Guatemalan reality. Mario’s work reminds me something that was said by the Mexican artist Astrid Hadad: “I look for myself in the dictionary, in the yellow pages, in the electoral registry, in Eastern philosophy, but I cannot find myself”. Being contemporary in the margins is not the result of communication, but of misunderstandings. And that is the blurriness for good people; it is a matter of travesties.

Rosina Cazali

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