EXTREMISMOS. THE LIMITS OF THE CHILEAN LANDSCAPE
In "Hilvanar", Dittborn incorporates parallel diagonal lines on the right side of the work, he has referred to these pictorial marks as “palotes” (in English, “pre-writing strokes”)—the repeated lines that children draw as a first step toward leaning how to write. Pre-writing strokes are defined by repetition; one stroke never stands alone but is surrounded by many iterations of itself. As the term’s suffix in Spanish –ote indicates, they imply an augmentative value. But while they repeat the same shape over and over again, they vary in their repetition. Of similar angle and size, they are, nonetheless, imperfect reiterations of each other. Repetition, incrementality, and variation have been at the heart of Dittborn’s practice. The figure of a hanged man on the left panel of the work is an image that Eugenio Dittborn has returned to time and again. It corresponds to an engraving by Mexican political printmaker José Guadalupe Posada, titled El ahorcado Revolucionario ahorcado por los hacendados (The Hanged Man – Revolutionary Hanged by the Landowners), made c. 1910. As Dittborn notes, his reuse of the hanged man “can be understood as a comment in expansion: the recycling of a fragile trace.”1 Similar to the frail traces of a child’s marks, Dittborn’s recycled images are subject to mutation with every repetition. Inserted within different referential fields, the visual quotations renew the multiple associations that they generate. 1. Eugenio Dittborn in conversation with Sean Cubitt in “An Airmail Interview,” in MAPA: The Airmail Paintings of Eugenio Dittborn, 1984–1992 (London: Institute of Contemporary Art; Rotterdam: Witte de With, 1992), p. 22.
Eugenio Dittborn, Hilvanar Airmail Painting No. 189, 2017. Dye, acrylic, stitching and photosilkscreen on 2 sections of Loneta Duck fabric, 210 x 210 cm. Alexander and Bonin Gallery