On the work Naturaleza muerta
Still Life is a screen print on paper on which was reproduced, entirely manually (including the colour separations), from an oil painting that I made in the 1970s. The original painting, also called Still Life, measures 110 cm x 110 cm. It was painted on canvas, and its present location has been unknown to me since its last owner went bankrupt and sold it at auction in Argentina.
In the 1970s I painted several Still Lives that had as their central motifs animals killed by violent means or in violent circumstances. My aim was to create visual metaphors that allowed me to relate my compositions to the violence of current reality: the criminality through which Argentina passed during the period of military dictatorship.
The painting that lent its motif to the screen print was based on one that integrated a dorado (a large fish, found in the Paraná river on the Argentine coast). The fish lies dead, on a dining table, beneath the tranquillity of a blue, cold light; to its side is the uterine, maternal image of a water jug. When I set up this composition I thought of images of the Crucifixion, where the loneliness of the dead man is only shared by the desolation of his mother: in a world that does not appear to alter its tranquillity, or its routine. A dorado can measure more than a metre in length, as was the case for the one that I used for my painting. People crave this fish for its meat, and due to over fishing it is under threat of extinction. In Argentina everyone knows that the dorado is something that is disappearing. During the military dictatorship my painting with the dorado was shown in museums and galleries, with others from the same series, with clear allusion to the many forced disappearances that were taking place in the country (and that was how it was understood). Other paintings showed atrocities committed against animals.
Translated from the original Spanish by Joanne Harwood