Eruption of Enrique Guzman
May 9, 2015
You consider that a national-prize painting, ten feet of completely black resin and charcoal offering no message or creativity. I don’t care we’re in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and some might say I’m jealous I didn’t win. Nonsense. It’s necessary to be outraged and impossible to tolerate such a mockery of those who try to paint good works. I grab Beatriz Zamora’s insult and yank it to the floor and if others, mostly other young artists, my supporters, don’t get in the way, I’d throw the garbage and Zamora down the stairs. At least I’m able to hit her, lightly, with a fire extinguisher. Look at these photos of me afterward. I’m dazed and exhausted, staggering in a herd, holding my hyper head with a hand. This whole thing is a nightmare and always has been. I was a sad boy and unhappy adolescent, and I’m a miserable young man who paints nonstop except when drinking and smoking pot and snorting coke and never mind what else.
My brain in the early seventies forces my hand to record jarring images: a creepy father is backed by a toilet and fronted by his grim daughter, a naked woman looks back at something and howls, her hairy snatch not quite a delight, a little girl smiles ghoulishly as she stands on a swing next to a bloody bird, a boy naked from the waist up and probably below screams on a faded surface highlighted by a strange and colorful ball, the sole of a shoe glows with a pink flower emerging from the sea, a man falls backward through the too large window of an ocean liner, the innards of a groundhog serenade silent hands and lifeless birds in flight, my hands in self-portrait cover my eyes, as I will after my artistic assault.
Needles in face torture a man of eerie white eyes, a man presses his face against a mirror, creating two morose and indistinguishable images, Christ reveals a heart pierced by two arrows, like the hand of God above him which dripped blood onto the adjacent toilet, a distressing man in sunglasses on starry night appears at the window, a baby slides headfirst down steel stairs, naked networks of stairs blunder into the sky, a deft hand from above guides a razor blade toward the face of an immobilized man, another fellow is sacrificed by a blade like a guillotine driven by a storm shoving his head through an absent window, a man holds a suitcase and faces a white curtain to nowhere probably better than the toilet and razor blade behind him, a man in suit starts to lift off with ball and comb and chair and more lifeless birds, a headless man backed by razor holds a baby bearing his head, a man with suited shoulders reveals a naked female torso, a chair flies away from a grasping hand, a naked woman young but almost old combs her hair, posing for a calendar, I improvise a serene and sexy young woman and should have more often, a melancholy old man sits in a chair and holds a rusty ball in a rusty room engulfed by a rusty sky, a man sleeps in a high-legs bed next to a cracking wall that may be the sky, the Mexican flag bears a skull with two toothy mouths, a huge and beautiful ship, green and orange and red, sails in the sea, it sails toward the shore, it approaches happy people swimming near the shore, and then comes Belles Artes and I feel damn bad.
The devil approaches Old Glory emblazoned on a giant razor blade, a man is terrorized by a fiery sky, an old man sits and holds a smoldering gold pillow same as the wall behind, a tiny woman on a huge patio shoots milk from her left breast, a monument cracks under an ominous sky, the sea here’s as bad as the sky there. Around 1980 I’m about done, my paintings weaken, I abandon Mexico City after several successful years selling my work at the Galleria Arvil, I move to San Luis Potosi, and you know that’s not good, and then return to Aguascalientes to live with my family who begs me to get help. What kind of help? What can I do? I can’t even paint well anymore. Look at these weak colors. Have I run out of paint? Of ideas? I don’t care. My works are like posters or caricatures, the ones I complete. I don’t finish many. I can’t. It doesn’t matter. In 1983 I charge into an Aguascalientes exhibition and cut up a seventies painting that won a prize and throw the pieces into the street. I’m not dead yet, though. I get an exhibition here three years later. Shortly after it ends, I hang myself, and should’ve first painted the peaceful scene.
Note: Enrique Guzman was thirty-three.