The last thing I would promise would be to “improve“ humanity. I won’t be setting up any new idols; let the old ones learn what it means to have feet of clay. “Knocking over idols“ (my word for “ideals”) – that is more my style. NIETZSCHE

My choice of using what is nowadays recognizable as the title of one of the most popular pseudo–horror films as a call of attention to this text is not a trivial decision. On the contrary, it is a nod to the ambiguity in Enrique Marty’s creations and a way of summing up the thousands of connections that take place in the viewer’s mind when faced with them. Indeed, the universe of this artist is a totem of multiple cultural stimuli, from those which could be described as B–series to more enlightened ones. Moreover, if there is something that characterizes this artist is the sixth sense, the non–physical sense, the one related to intuition, which he uses to create, or to bring to light, a whole series of works where a Baroque game of connotations is at play.

Marty belongs to a generation of artists who unashamedly admit to considering absolutely all stimuli as valid in their personal system. He cleverly integrates them in his work, using them up to maximum effect, making the most of all their possibilities and making it absolutely clear that the differences between high and low culture are phantoms of our mind.

For his show at the Sala Robayera, Enrique Marty presents Episode V of All your world is pointless, a series of video creations that delve into his passion for Nietzsche and his idea of recovering our Dionysian instinct through constant nods or plays on the idea of “eternal return”. Successive changes and mutations between real and imagined scenes about the philosopher take place in a loop and, with considerable sarcasm and irony, what appeared to be a totally nihilistic reading of life by the philosopher, ends up being fuel for the devastating fire of Nazi doctrines.

Obviously, the empowerment he asks of us in order to become a superhuman (Übermensch) is a place of difficult access for the tormented beings among whom most of us readers count ourselves. And it is there that we come across the deepest and most resounding discourse of the artist's work.

On a few occasions, Marty has confessed to having been a timorous boy in his childhood, and has narrated the cathartic actions he used to perform with his own family in order to overcome these seemingly irrational fears. This is why the people represented are often people close to the artist, who appear decontextualized and who, probably, inhabit the new places Marty had assigned them in his subconscious mind.

A tireless consumer of horror movies and scenes of absurdity, he can’t help but combine these records of his mind with his great passion for philosophy. When faced with Marty’s work, one realizes he has an exceptional intelligence that is able to explore spaces that remain foreign to many. His multiculture allows him to establish connections where others are paralyzed by absurdity; and this is where the artist finds humour, a humour of the strange, of the incomprehensible.

Enrique Marty plays with the advantage of his gift to see what for him is obvious, but for most remains hidden. This is what he tries to show us, the “uncanny” that is conjured by the famous Unheimlich — German term for “disturbing strangeness” or “what should have remained hidden, secret, but has come to light” and that, in the psychological field, is related to anguish, to the ghostly or the terrifying.

Studied by Freud following in the footsteps of Schelling, the Romantic philosopher, the uncanny is a principle applicable to the bulk of Marty’s work, who seems to delve in the existing and — for him — obvious darkness, in the shadow of things — a term which in turn takes us to other psychologists, such as Jung. Marty’s referential chain is almost endless (the loop of eternal return again), but it seems that he unfolds it almost unconsciously, as if he had become a visual alchemist, providing science where, apparently, there is only magic and vice versa; or as if it all was coming out of his most sincere expression, as an ironic drive or a metaphysical act (1).

Perhaps we cannot interpret the artist’s works as a metaphysical act in the most common sense, as an action of an illuminated teacher who acts as a conduit for the superior, but what is true is that his work places him in a higher level of knowledge than the public, who may feel a victim of a hard to understand mockery or a cruel joke. It is here that we can recognize Enrique Marty as a true mentor who compiles the scariest things until he finds lots of humour in everything that happens before his eyes. He may be a link in this chain of artists who act as a mirror to our uncannier side: an artist–jester (2), who laughs at moral decay, accentuating it through battered and diseased anatomies, making an ode to the ludicrous if with a silent sensitivity.

Ambivalence, ambiguity or contradiction, so typical of Nietzsche’s thought, is present in almost all of Marty’s series. Without knowing well how, without knowing well why, in front of Marty’s work the viewer is trapped. There will always be one among the thousand pieces making up his creations that connects with the darkest part of ourselves and that can cause at times rejection and at times fascination (or why not, a mixture of both), in front of which the spectator becomes paralyzed for not knowing to which of these sensations he should stay alert or abandon himself. The most restless ones will probably even consider to let themselves be carried away by those scenes or mentally include themselves in them, because, almost certainly, they are also part of their subconscious mind. Surely they will feel a strong temptation attraction to pull on the thread that appears after the first impact, the one that takes places without filters, without contexts, the one that affects our subconscious and which will really leave a mark on us.

There is great force in the way Enrique Marty approaches the mutation of the Apollonian into the Dionysian, which does not exist only in Nietzsche himself, as we find out when we discover ourselves as the executioners of what we adore and begin our transit to ultrahumans, a path that begins by leaving the flock to reach empowerment, but does not fully express itself until we feel as free as a child. Equally powerful are the pieces that accompany the projection, some of which could be seen in the Chapel of the Counts of Fuensaldaña (3), where the artist displayed much of his creative game, with a careful staging that became almost obsessive when one was immersed in the installation. It had an almost military structure, as if his pieces were Xi'an warriors decontextualized from their truth. But what is their truth if we live in a world devoid of a linear scheme?

Also obsessive is Enrique Marty’s passion for visiting museums and keeping the first impression of everything he finds in them, de-contextualizing it even more by the filter of a photographic frame that sometimes lacks formal quality. Marty sets all these idols of distant and nearby cultures that inhabit museum halls in a totally bare staging, without the support of a minimum context or circumstance that would dress them up for mass presentation, leaving each one to (re)present himself heartbreakingly in a pointless competition, without knowing very well why they are there. Marty does not even exempt the philosopher himself, the main character underlying the whole discourse and close to being the artist’s own alter ego, whom he plunges into that loop of infinite repetition of an infinite return, and as a loop of the loop, Zarathustra as an alter ego of Nietzsche himself and art as the tool to reach the totality.

When one confronts the Classics in Art History (and we all know that no vision is more Apollonian than that, with its canons and precepts), or visits cities with an important historical background, it is common to find sculptures that, although stripped of some of the elements that gave them meaning, continue to be emblems. They are emblems of emperors, of power, of events, but, if we pause to think about it for a moment, to find an Apollo whose lyre has been stolen or with a fractured hand, or a warrior without his spear, does not lack a certain irony, or to feel, in a certain way, somewhat grotesque. Sometimes the postures, the torsions to which they are subjected by the absence of some of their attributes, make their exquisite execution take second place, and they become disturbing or at times almost ridiculous. This is where Enrique’s mind comes into play, with its ability to string together the ridiculous, the nonsense, the falsehood of myths better than anyone else, and helps us to recover the Dionysian instinct that makes us reflect on the absurdity of order and power structures.

To conclude, going back to the opening points of this brief approach to the artist, I would like to highlight two notions to bear in mind when looking at Marty’s work: firstly, the constant tension between impulse and reflection, which makes his works truly alive; and secondly, the unconscious choice of the title of this text, since, although in fact the script of the film The Sixth Sense is not the most accomplished of the horror genre, it can almost certainly be said that, in a brilliant coincidence, it contains many of the metaphors that also exist in Enrique Marty’s work and that when you see it you experience most of the sensations that are part of letting yourself be carried away by the artist’s work, including laughter, of horror or of fun. What is beyond doubt is that when we move away from the pieces, we will turn and look back in fear that one of them will come to life, even if it is only in our mind. Or, who knows, perhaps our own shadow has been awakened after encountering its kindred within the exhibition halls and we ourselves are already one of them.

(1) Metaphysical act according to one of the definitions of Aristotle for Metaphysics, which says that it is “the science of the ultimate causes”.

(2) Artist–jester because of the dual meaning of the word; because of the tragicomic, ambiguous and cruel aspects of this figure, which was perhaps embodied by Goya, Solana, Daumier, Otto Dix or George Grosz in the past.

(3) Someone, who had the best of intentions, released the snakes, installation at the Patio Herreriano Museum, Valladolid, 2015.

· The Sixth Sense. Some impressions on Enrique Marty’s work



















© Noemí Méndez (2019)



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