Updated: Dec 9, 2019
The core of this small exhibition of the works of Marcos Milewski is taken from his Magic Forest series which made its first public appearance at the Gallery Casa Mudas (Calheta) in 2016.
Magic Forest Series:
Symbolism of the forest is heavily imbued with cultural resonances in European art as witnessed by that of both the Germanic and Iberian variations. Looking at Milewski´s Figurative Symbolist meditations on this theme one is immediately reminded of the work of film director Guillermo del Toro in his El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan´s Labrynth) and the forest of Milewski is definitively pagan- Iberian in scope and feel.
On the left-hand wall, in a series of vignette landscapes, we view the transition from childhood through to adolescence of his young subject who gazes into her future adulthood. It is a tender portrayal using often repeated visual leitmotivs such as the pushbike (childhood), the sphere (the world outside herself) etc.
On another level It is also a meditation on the complex tectonic voyeurism that ensues between the gazes of artist, viewer and subject.
The subject is often self-aware or self-absorbed – this in itself declares her acceptance of our gaze (former) or rejection (latter).
Painted in Faial
In this painting the artist views his students painting the road ahead of them, with only one student gazes back at the artist-teacher. Is Milewski here acting in loco paresis?
The Break illustrates the often demeaning teenage behavior of parental disavowing – the parents here are only depicted by their alcoholic beverages, the bicycle is a mere reflective drawing by the father/artist, the subject herself ignoring their revelry, intent on her own world view shown by camera/mobile device.
Art historical references can also be distinguished, as the Painting Meditation where we see among other canvases distributed amongst the forest trees a depiction of Odilon Redon`s 1914 Cyclops Viewing the Naia Galatea (Kröller-Müller Museum, Netherlands); truly a depiction of the `Male Gaze´ in all its brutish nature but made passive by Redon in an unusual version of the famous myth. In the same painting we see Luna as the onset of female puberty, and can presume the canvas seen only from the back as maybe another version of a bicycle.
When Milewski first exhibited his Magic Forest series the huge Bicycle painting provided a grand finale. It is still, in this more modest exposition, an overwhelming piece, with presence, illustrating the now discarded theme of childhood and showing an excited female form cartwheeling into the forest of her future life. Note the insect clinging to the pedal.
Alongside Milewski´s Magic Forest series we have presented some associated works, as it were in parenthesis. These have been especially chosen to demonstrate Milewski´s art historical and classical references in both its deferential and irreverent modes.
As an example of the former, consider his painting Summer.
Here he offers the viewer a portrait odalisque. With reference to the late 19th century moment when artists felt able to move away from the classical canon of the Nude and portray the female form in a new sexualized state, here Milewski has underpinned the reference by presenting her against a “oriental” landscape, yet by the wedding veil we are also asked to consider her transition from maiden to full womanhood, albeit in hushed tranquil tones.
Hung opposite this hauntingly beautiful odalisque & fronting the desk, by deliberate sharp contrast, is a depiction of a truly contemporary female - painting The Passerby. She not only wide-eyed defiantly returns our gaze, but is portrayed inhabiting a night time urban cityscape of bars and clubs, clearly enjoying her “night on the town”. The eye contact is direct but fleeting, yet full of promise.
Blowing Planets which shows a young costumed female on a balcony whose breath takes the form of stars, planets etc. This may be taken as a reference to Shakespeare´s ill-fated heroine “Juliet” of “star-crossed lovers” fame.
Looking closely at Juliet´s breath one can detect amongst the stars also a skull and cross bones referencing that death which proceeds from Love – Le Petit Mort – and also their own fatalities that result from their romantic and socially illicit passion.
The painting Entropy & Creation shows a clever trompe l´oeil deceit. Here we have a prepared breakfast –the very beginning of a day – with newspaper on a wooden panel. The viewer or artist himself is reflected in the yolk of the egg. The idea that the universe was born from an egg is shared by nearly all ancient civilisations and cultures –Christians see it as a symbol of the Resurrection. The primordial man also originates from an egg, like Prajâpati.
In general, the cosmic Egg, born from primordial Waters, splits into two halves to give birth to Heaven and Earth – as the Hindu Brahmânda or the two Dioscuri. Its title asks us to reflect on transformation.
The painting Climax depicts an `altered narrative´ version of Jan van Eyck´s famous 1434 depiction of the Arnolfini Marriage (National Gallery, London) – all the original elements are here but possibly its narrative has been shifted to a different moment from the actual ceremonial presentation of the original. The title hints at a double entendre. Milewski presents this image as a film screen viewed from the back seats of the cinema by a contemporary courting couple, the young female looking directly at us the viewer to engage us in the obvious comparison of cultural resonances in the presented dichotomy … showing Milewski at his whimsical thought-provoking best.