The Madoff Series
Antonio Seguí has painted Bernie Madoff into art history. This series of paintings will probably be the only positive memory to remain of the rogue financier. Art covers a shady career with a dark patina of pathos and satire. Not even the most populated painting of Seguí comes close to gathering the multitudes that Madoff swindled. But artists are allowed poetic license and here the painter makes a selective representation of the victims. “Todos creimos en Madoff” (We All Believed in Madoff) synthesizes the situation: Seguí’s city-goers have traditionally appeared to suffer the effects of urban over-kill, the stress that comes with ambition for riches and power and the haunting prospect of failure.
“Nadie supo lo que le venía” (No One Knew What Was Coming) summarizes the essence of Western mankind’s recent debacle. Seguí not only nails the white-collared bandit’s own demise onto the stretched canvas, but also that of an entire generation of speculators and gamblers. The artist portrays an atmosphere of people scurrying like chickens with their heads cut off. In this case, the losses are purely dips in status, less zeros in the bank account. So many citizens deserve to own one of these paintings as a reminder of their folly in finance. How many, however, have the humor to watch the drama unfold day after day in a Seguí painting?
Seguí began his career as a satirist with a sharp political scalpel. He ridiculed the ruling classes through disturbing portraits in dark, thick paint. As time wore on, his weapon lost the sharpness of blade, and his paintings became more generous appreciations of mankind. He never applauded the foibles of Everyman, but over time he has granted him a longer leash. His vision of Madoff is a return to finger-pointing: this time, at the one man who epitomizes the ruling class of money-movers and -shakers.
Seguí never goes so far as to condemn. Every human has qualities that can be rescued: these paintings are a muted statement, veiled in a personal palette of colors and a multitude of peripatetic little figures. “Cuando llegó Madoff” (When Madoff Arrived) and other allusive titles bind the paintings into a tightly-knit family: this series gives Seguí the opportunity to take his work a step further. The hand-written messages that criss-cross the canvas, striding behind the inhabitants and their buildings like a new series of characters in his arsenal, add a sense of immediacy to the message. Seguí surprises us again: his work never loses touch with today and remains timeless at the same time.
Tunquén – September 2009