We cry out at birth because we have seen death.
Cardoza y Aragón
The great Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, developed what he called “sculpainting”, to intensify the effects of the mural, which meant working reliefs on the walls that he would later paint over, using plaster, asbestos, cement or other materials. Rogelio Manzo’s intentions are sculptural too, yet he has reduced the sculptural volumes to layers that use whatever medium to add form until he achieves the final piece that he transforms into ultra low reliefs, textured and with many visual levels, transparencies and backgrounds. What Manzo has done therefore is to reinvent the low relief by using today’s techniques in photography, digital graphics, silk-screen printing, transfers and montage.
Manzo’s montages usually begin with a photographic image. He then makes his first artistic intervention in Photoshop. The image is enlarged, printed and finally transfered to a canvas or resin panel. From there the work begins. The memory of the person and the experiences and sensations he or she awakens in the artista inspire him to improvise a montage of materials and very low reliefs that he applies one after the other.
The silk threads—in the case of the Visceral series—express the idea of the terminus of the nervous system. This series alludes to the core of the anatomy—the nerves, muscles and organs of the human body—and fits perfectly with the artist’s method in which once the image seems to reach its final form, it is again opened up, deconstructed and dissected as if in surgery.
Manzo combines both aspects of sculpture, since this is how material is usually added and later removed to generate the volume and to form the details when one works in clay, plaster or wax. In the case of wood or stone carving, one only has the option of removing the material. But Manzo works by both adding and removing material, combining photography with digital art and montage. He makes a collage by developing all the elements within reach to encode the complexity of the individual—their nuances, their chiaroscuros, their inner worlds—in such as to make his portraits emotional, psychological and intellectual x-rays of the people he takes for subjects of his art. In this series, the photographic images of people are added to images of bones or organs, which, together with the threads, reveal more than the sum of elements that is a person.
Visceral shows us that behind the wonder of every unique individual lies the miracle of existence of this being but also the fragile and finite connection that breaks unexpectedly and ends the unique and prodigious cycle that forms the life of everyone. In the end this is a series that—at once crudely and poetically—confronts us with the clearest reality and truth: we are because we are alive and therefore we know we will die.
F.G. de Aguinaga