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May 22 - June 26, 2004 at Couturier Gallery, West Hollywood

by Peter Clothier

Something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue. Like a bride observing the old custom for a perfect union, Jorge Marín’s sculptures borrow from mythology, religion and theater, and combine traditions from classical bronze sculpture with the tension and anxiety that is central to the modern era. The ritual of the wedding is an apt analogy for this work, and there is nothing prosaic about his figures. Among these fifteen bronze sculptures there are nude archers and acrobats, centaurs and angels.

The psychological intensity is the most evident in Marín’s winged figures. Poses are dramatic; facial expressions are drawn taut. The religious underpinnings in these bronzes are evident, but not overwhelming. In El Abrazo a winged man embraces a woman. He sits securely on a large, solid-looking base; she is balanced in his arms. The wings hover protectively over both of them. Wings also cradle both figures in Piedad. Here, one figure’s raised hand suggests a questioning uncertainty, while the other man’s outstretched arm suggests a letting go.

Many of Marín’s figures wear a beaked mask, recalling the long-nosed masks for characters originating with the 16th century Commedia dell’Arte. Masks serve multiple purposes. They protect: the Commedia doctor who stuffed his long nose with spices to protect against the plague, to the modern gas mask or dust mask. Masks also disguise, conceal and even reflect someone’s likeness, as with a death mask. When it is one of the winged figures that is masked, as in Ángel Apárita, it raises questions of function and identity. If it’s a disguise, is this an angel or an imposter? Is there really a spiritual element here, or is it merely theater? Perhaps Marín’s answer is in the intersection of the two domains.

Equilibrista 90 is reminiscent of the key classical Greek sculpture, Myron’s The Discobolus. If, instead of the discus, there was a large sphere, and if the figure was baolancing on this sphere rather than throwing it, The Discobolus could slide right into Marín’s exhibition. Like the classical sculptors, Marín displays a strong interest in the athlete’s physique. The viewer can perceive the tension in those muscles and can sense the forceful pounding of the man’s heart as it pumps blood through the distended veins visible in Equilibrista. Marín’s athletes are also active, not static. They represent a brief moment that suggests the fluid movement that came before as well as the action that will gracefully follow. Whereas the discus thrower is poised, ready to accomplish his goal, Marín’s athletes are at their apex. Neither the figure in Equilibrista nor in Paralelas could maintain their delicate balance. In the next moment, they will swing down and, if all goes well, land squarely on their feet.

“El abrazo” 2003,
bronze, 34 x 35 x 10".

“Flechador alado (Winged
Archer),” 2004, bronze.

“Flechador de pie (Standing
Archer),” 2004, bronze.

“Flechador en cuclillas (Crouching
Archer),” 2004, bronze.

“Noche de San Vicente (St. Vicent's
Night),” 2004, bronze, 38 1/2 x 9 x 12 1/4".

Often, as in Equilibrista, what they’re balanced on is a large, earth-shaped sphere. Taken in context with the whole of Marín’s oeuvre, the viewer may sense that the Marín is alluding to psychological balance, in addition to the tenuous physical balance he is depicting. These bronzes are not merely a celebration of the athlete’s well-defined body, but an examination of just how arduous and ephemeral is the act of balancing, both real and metaphorical.