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Date Minted:  October 26, 2020

Artist Description: a window to my subconscious  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

I’ve been a fan of Okytomo’s work ever since I saw it in-person at Cryptoarg’s Riesgo Pais exhibition in New York in June. His ability to manipulate environments, populating them with 3D objects, and to create incredibly rich texts is impressive to say the least. So much of the artist’s personality populates the objects and colors and angles Okytomo chooses to use in his pieces. And in Melancolía, we see the artist choosing his most depressive, reflective, and introspective state to share with us. Okytomo describes this piece as “a window to my subconscious.” What a clear and troubling one it is. Honest and harrowing, Melancolía excavates its effective emotionality through its maximization of symbols and environments. Though at first seems to be a cogent environment effectively communicated, the lack of overt relationship between the objects within the environment make the whole seem most closely related to collage, especially because of how we’re tacitly being asked to forge the relationships within the composition ourselves. What, we immediately ask, do electrical (perhaps pseudo-medical) devices, halloween costumes, and cosmic bodies have to do with one another? We’re perhaps trained away from seeing 3D sculpture as possessing such hallmark ideologies of collage, but in dealing with a purported image of the artist’s subconscious, we begin to abut that strange line where collage is just barely separated from Dalí-like surrealism. Okytomo’s piece is much sparser than most of Dalí’s creations, and certainly less grotesque, but it shares the same certain barrenness of space and the same lack of overt connection between dream-inspired symbols. 

There are three symbols of note existing in the grey, reflective landscape that is —I presume— meant to evoke the darker parts of Okytomo’s mind. Physically closest to us (closes to the 4th wall, that is) is a kind of hybrid street sign and electrical pole. Attached to a metal barrier wrapped with red-and-white caution tape, a blue metal pole rises up in a straight line before stretching itself out like the two arms of an uppercase-T, culminating in two dingy blue streetlights. The whole contraption is wrapped in wires, some of which hang freely and dangerously down into the space underneath the lights themselves, while others plug into and a series of slightly-disconcerting electrical boxes, all of them seeming somewhat dystopian with their faded silver coloration and their vague disclaimers of danger. Above this electrical gizmo spins the second object, a tiny facsimile of the moon. It never stops spinning. Though the moon is not connected to the electrical assemblage, I find myself tracing the impression of a human figure out of the two objects, with the moon the head, the outstretched street-lamps the arms, and the electrical pole the thin body; the entire thing appearing like Christ stretched out on the cross. Make of that what you will (if you even see the same thing). I find the most striking object in the piece, however, to be the third: Stalking around in the background, far from the other objects, is a human standing under a flowing white sheet, like a ghostly halloween costume of the kind we see in movies. We can’t know for sure what’s under the sheet, especially because it has no face pointed towards us nor any eye-holes cut out of the sheet, but the symbol itself —which is what it becomes, more or less— strikes us with specific associations. I’m writing this analysis on October 28th, just a few days before Halloween; how seasonally-appropriate.

Because of how sparsely-populated is this environment, and because of how strikingly different the three symbols seem to be, it’s hard to analyze Melancolía with any feeling of confidence, just because there is so much interpretation demanded of the viewer. I’m reminded of a set of dream interpretation books my mother used to have, and how they always felt rotten to me: Dreams are so odd and scattershot and barren of internal logic (for the most part), so trying to find meaning within them is like trying to make meaning out of constellations; any reading could make objective sense on any given day because the internal organization of information is malleable enough to conform to literally any possible interpretation.

So I’d like to stay away from that and let Okytomo’s subconscious remain encrypted (at least by this writer). What interests me more is the way he utilizes spaces within the piece. What is it about this environment that encourages me to think that all these objects share space, instead of their just being images pasted on a flat environment like 3D graffiti on a wall? Though the ghost costume reflects upon the ground, that reflection is the only signifier of an actual 3D space. The lightpost, for example, extends off the frame, never actually touching down on a surface. The longer you look at the piece, the less actual association with one another the three symbols have; not only do they have little to do with each other in content, they don’t even seem to be existing in the same world. The ghost costume is “in” the frame, but the light post and moon seem to be existing in the foreground. And yet, I cannot escape the impression that we are looking at a diorama of sorts, where even if the space doesn’t contain consistent properties, the space itself remains consistent. 

Melancolía is like an evolution of Dalí’s style, where the artwork’s disparate symbols do more than share an environment because they seem to be creating and sustaining disparate environments around them. We observers are placed into a constant state of conflict between the congruent environment we are trying to make sense of, and all the ways the piece itself is actively deconstructing its own internal logic. An internal artistic universe both pushing and pulling on its own consistency; a striking and cunning way to demonstrate a suffering subconscious. 

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