Emperor Sculpture

Author: Achille Bonito Oliva

Title: Emperor Sculpture

Publication: Javier Marín Terra

Project / work:  Exhibition Javier Marín Terra: Material as idea. Palacio de Iturbide, Fomento Cultural Banamex,  2015.

Published by: Fomento Cultural Banamex / Terreno Baldío Arte

Emperor Sculpture

Achille Bonito Oliva


The  history  of  Western  sculpture  recounts  the  relationship  between  man  and  the space  surrounding  him, presenting  this  relationship  in  language  that  expresses consciousness  of  the  figure’s  creation.  The  sculptor  is  the  craftsman  of  a  visual artwork realized through a process of delimitation, who puts a bit of space, a piece of the  world,  into  an  enclosure  where  the  materials  that  concretely  occupy  that  space offer  their  skin  to  our  gaze.


Sculpture  becomes  the  scenario  for  the  conflict  between  inert  matter  and  the  man who seeks to impress a divine trace upon that matter. The impossibility of that task forces  him  to  consider  the  limitations  of  form  and  the  incapability  of  effecting  an outcome  that  is  equal  to  the  substance  of  his  inspiration.


Javier Marín takes on the challenge of putting a spin on sculpture’s dead language by means of a  language  well  equipped  to  confront  all  its  specificities  and  resolve  the  acuteness of contamination, assembly and the system of combinations within a three-dimensional realm  that  underscores  the  dynamism  of  its  relationship  to  the  world.  The  artist’s sculptures—whose  nature  he  would  proverbially  seem  to  want  to  block  or  obstruct through weight of matter, the speed of ideas and the impalpable character of emotion— are  fired,  like  nerves,  by  their  need  to  move  forward  and  to  act  within  the  rich  complexity  of  their  times.  The  artwork  asserts  itself  as  a  sort  of  silent,  “circular”  border within  which  relationships  of  true displacement  that  refer  above  all  to  the  creative experience  are  fulfilled.  Their  constituent  component  is  tension  in  the  artwork’s fundamental  complexity.  Nothing  is  true-to-life  anymore.  The  artist,  acting  alone, keeps working until he manages to construct an artwork that confronts a relationship with technique in search of something different from the everyday, yet still attempts to  use  the  same,  familiar  materials:  bronze,  marble,  clay.



In Javier Marín’s case, art remains techne—a confirmation of creative knowledge that comes from  the  Roman  gravitas,  reiterated  throughout  Western  art  history.


 In any case, sculpture is a genre that seeks forgiveness. This has to do with its inevitable “footprint,” as volume, that at times responds to the sometimes positive demands of public art and contemporaneity. Artists have created numerous works as institutional commissions, a tradition that reached a zenith of splendor during the Baroque.

 Javier Marín  the  artist  accepts  the  challenge  of  monumental  work.  Through  the  economy of his language, he reestablishes the ethics of a creative process that reiterates, and above  all  expands,  the  distinctive  character  of  sculpture  and  its  history.


 In the 1960s, sculpture established itself as an expanding, three-dimensional object in space  that  replaced  using  traditional  materials  with  quotidian  elements.  Faced with  sculpture’s dissolution, Javier Marín responds by revisiting its courtly tensions and  exalting  them  through  elaboration  that  includes  his  tenacious  craftsmanship.


He  discovers  a  gold  mine—a  source  of  ongoing  activation—in  art  history’s  iconography. Navigating the ambiguous chaos of the present, Javier Marín acts with a singular and signature temporality, committing himself to the virile grandeur of classical statuary.


 In  his  ongoing  wanderings  around  museums,  churches  and  monuments,  in  his  continuous  approach  and  distancing,  Javier Marín  is  magnetically  attracted  to  the  forceful authority  of  sculptural  portraits  whose  presence  is  cemented  to  a  formal  definition of marble. Clearly this is no attempt at predatory emulation; instead, these reflexive pauses  suggest  to  the  artist  his  ars  combinatoria,  assembly  and  disassembly,  as  literature—as  in  Zen  and  the  Art  of  Motorcycle  Maintenance—might  have  suggested.


We can imagine Javier Marín bursting into museums, armed with his signature compositional technique,  his  vision  of  the  whole  and  knowledge  of  all  the  details.  It  is  Javier Marín  who is  at  the  helm.  Previously  unseen form families  can  be  identified  in  his  oeuvre.

 Concreteness  of  form  and  the  weight  of  its  matter  celebrate  the  masculine.  In  this group  of  artworks  there  is  no  trace  of  the  feminine  as  conventional  beauty  ideal  or time’s  illusory  flight.  They  represent  the  triumph  of  endurance,  the  exaltation  of  a non-quotidian  time  that  is  expressed  precisely  thanks  to  the  exalted  temporality their  execution  demands.


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