In works that range from performance and video to installation and drawing, Carlos Amorales investigates the multiple facets of contemporary reality,bringing irony, mystery,and fear into constant interplay.
Born in Mexico but a longtime Dutch resident, Amorales preserves the cultural imagination of his native land, while maintaining the detached viewpoint of an outside observer.
His earliest and best-known pieces especially his videos and performances are inspired by the lucha libre, a traditional Mexican style of “free wrestling.” In these works, the combatants, who wear masks with the artist’s features, fight each other in a play of mirror images, pointing out, through the pungent weapon of irony, the profound dichotomy of the exhausting struggle against one’s inner self. Central to Amorales recent work is his Liquid Archive, a digital archive of more than one thousand and five hundred vector rawings, which the artist continually develops and updates, with the goal of preserving images from personal and collective memory, from childhood games to outlines of animals, from wrestlers’ masks to famous political figures.
The double video projection Dark Mirror, 2005, is inspired by drawings in this archive. In this work on one side of the screen, the silhouettes of various animals wolves, monkeys, and birds (digitally animated by André Pahl) appear in an incessant rhythm, shattering into nothingness, alternating with those of airplanes nose-diving against a dark backdrop, and interrupted from time to time by deep red flows that recall bloody surfaces. Recalling the aerial attacks of September 11 a trauma indelibly impressed on our collective memory—and by the violence of the images of those events, the video transmits all the drama of contemporary reality, in counterpoint to the simple typology of the drawing. On the other side of the screen, the pianist José María Serralde intently performs the original score he composed as the soundtrack for the work.
As in a play of mirrors, he conveys to the viewer the real presence of a human being, no longer evoked by beasts and ghosts, but as a physically perceptible presence. In this continuous dialogue between reality and imagination, we as viewers are asked to resign ourselves to the multiple and possible reflections of the human heart and on the imagination of a contemporary identity that is in continuous evolution and perennial suspension between the conscious and the unconscious, personal introspection and universal.