On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art or design and study the language used in them. This week’s article is about Carlos Amorales, a multi-disciplinary Mexican artist who creates conceptual art in the forms of installation, performance, film, graphics, animation, and sound. Since Spanish is the most spoken language of Mexico, some of the names and titles mentioned are in Spanish.
Here is the first paragraph from Frieze.com, in italics.
‘This text is an interface’ reads the opening line from Carlos Amorales’s artistic statement for his new exhibition at El Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City. Entitled ‘Axiomas para la acción’ (Axioms for Action), the touring retrospective, which opens tomorrow, is articulated around a core text of the same name, which interprets 22 years of the artist’s work along conceptual axes, rather than chronology. Operating at the intersection of film, animation, graphics, performance and sound, Amorales’s work has oscillated between abstraction and figuration, reality and fantasy, with little constancy beyond the underlying notion of the ‘interface’, or a system that connects graphic devices, often adding layers of metaphorical significance.
First, we see the word interface, which means a way for two different things to communicate or affect each other. We also see the phrase opening line, which means the first line of a text. So, this artist is saying that his artist statement, which is written on the gallery wall, is an interface for the viewers to connect with him. MUAC is a museum in Mexico City, which is where his work was exhibited. The word entitled means to give a title to something, so ‘Axiomas para la acción’ (Axioms for Action), is the title of his exhibit.
An axiom is a rule or belief that many people think is true. A touring exhibit is one that travels to different museums, and articulated means something is spoken or written clearly. In this situation, core means the central part of something, and text is a piece of writing. So we’re talking about an important text, his artist statement, which has the same title as the exhibit and helps the visitors to understand all the art pieces in the exhibit. To interpret something means to explain it, and an axis (plural=axes) is an imaginary line that something (such as the Earth) turns around. Chronology means the order in which a series of events happened, so the writer is saying that the exhibit is not organized by date. Instead, it is organized by the concepts in the artist’s work, and the artist statement can help visitors to understand these different concepts.
To operate means to use or control something, so the writer is saying that Amorales has used many different mediums to create his work, such as film, animation, graphics, performance and sound. Oscillated means to move in one direction and back again, many times, so the author is telling us that Amorales moves between abstraction and figuration, and also between reality and fantasy. In this sentence, abstraction means abstract work that doesn’t look like anything real and figuration means something that looks like a figure. Reality is something real, like something we might see in real life, and fantasy is the opposite – something we can’t see in real life. So, this all means that Amorales tries a lot of different things – different mediums, abstract work, realistic work, figurative work, etc.
He has little constancy, which means very little is consistent, or the same, in his work. Beyond means one thing is farther away that something else, and in this situation, it means except. A notion is an idea, and underlying just means one thing is lying under something else. So, the writer is saying that except for the idea of the ‘interface’ which he mentioned at the beginning, there is very little that is the same between this artist’s pieces. At the end of the paragraph, he describes the interface as a system that connects graphic devices, often adding layers of metaphorical significance. The phrase graphic devices means images with meaning, significance means something important, and metaphorical means an object, activity, or idea that is used as a symbol of something else. So, in the last sentence, we learn that the interface is a system to connect his images and to see them as symbols with important meanings.
Every artist should have a good artist statement, but it is especially important for conceptual artists. Conceptual art can be very difficult to explain, especially across cultures. A good language coach can help you to choose the best words and phrases to describe your work’s meaning in a way that is clear and interesting.
At Artglish, we help artists and designers to describe their work with the best vocabulary and language possible. Every Thursday we study reviews and articles to share useful words and phrases to help you improve your reading and writing skills. If you want to learn more, click here to join The Studio and try some free ways to improve your English, or check out our Lessons page to learn how Artglish can help you succeed.
I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.
To read the original article, written by Benoît Loiseau on February 9, 2018, click the link below:
To see the artist’s website, click the link below: