D-Construction Monet

Mario Pasqualotto

(Barcelona, 1953 - )

Mario Pasqualotto

The Works that Mario Pasqualotto (Barcelona, 1953) presents are more than just his work from these last years. They are the result of intense livings and of a large and complex process of experimentation. Pasqualotto is totally possessed by art and he has the conscience that living is a constant changing of the being. He materializes the deepest humans worries in works that combine reason and sensibility, austerity and new materials, the poetic of the recovered objects, the magic of alchemy and the rigour of chemistry.

It has been a long time since fragility composes the central speech of Mario Pasqualotto. And fragility has always been one of the reasons of mean’s sufferance, as it was remembered by Ovidio’s Metamorphosis. Now, in the XXI century, he shows a conscience of fragility which is changing into a collective and crushing weight with no borders. For that reason, Mario Pasqualotto’s work is a maximum quality.

In this exhibition, the memory of Auschwitz is the starting point of a strange but natural way that will lead us to the beauty of Moet’s water lilies. One of Pasqualotto’s latest works was a tribute to Primo Levi, an italian jewish engineer who has survived to Auschwitz. He wrote his experiences in the book “If this is man”, a deep reflection about dignity and abjection of man in front of extermination. This series, exposed in the Monastery of Saint Cugat of Barcelona, were a recreation of a setting of a pain and suffering, remembering the useless sacrifice of the genocide in the concentration fields.

“República” (1999-2000) is one of the works of the series which has never been shown until now. It remembers Biarritz as one of the border lines which witnesses the huge need to run away from a place. The sewed and cut lead, symbol of fragmentation and union and the smashed plates, sign of a ruined everyday life, have as horizon the view of Biarritz as a way towards hope.

According to Primo Levi, the plate was one the the greatest treasures of the daily rural life. To lose it was to lose everything. It meant to not be able to eat the desired soup of each day, risking the already difficult survival.

Mario Pasqualotto uses an aesthetic connected with the Italian post-povera Italian art (when he was a teenager in Milan, city of his parents’ family, he contacted with Arte Povera). He works with found objects, rescuing them and giving them a new life through his work.

The dishes recovered from “República” show the great value that objects can have, even if their real value is insignificant.

Between Auschwitz and Monet one should think of Adorno. The philosopher from the Frankfurt School said in 1949 that writing poetry after Auschwitz was impossible. However, with time and without refuting this affirmation, he agreed that it wasn’t that one could not write poetry -because poetry kept existing – but it needed to be done in another way, thinking and acting to assure that Auschwitz would not be repeated, through education. Adorno also did a reflection on “the insatiability of the persecution principle”, in which he says that no one is safe and hat the difference between the persecutor and he pursed is very narrow.[1]

So Pasqualotto keeps on working with fragility, since it is the essence of every man. This fragility of the human essence, made by time, emotions, life itself and its transcendence is the reality to which Pasqualotto approaches, with his works of great poetic content, taking poetry as a way to transcend language.

In his “Poetry”, white feathers cover a hole surface. The feathers evoke lightness but at the same time fragility; they are steady and they bring to mind Paul Valéy’s idea that “one should be light as a bird and not as a father”. Being so, lightness is seen as a treasure o be protected inside transparent urn.

The presence of light increases beauty and symbolism, as it happens in “44 lágrimas” (2002) and in “Bereshit 1” (2002). In these works, Pasqualotto’s great sensibility comes out in the way he deals with the human concerns: life, passing time, death, lost, love, pain…

It has been a few years since Mario Paqualotto started working with copper sheets, attacking the metal with a chemical process of corrosion and trying out its visual effects. While the acid was biting the cooper, the wounds discovered another world full of beauty, with a rich range of greenish blues with waterly impressions. Then, unconsciously he rediscovered Monet’s water lilies. This unreal presence made that difference obvious and Pasqualotto started to work on the series that he now presents, basing the representations of the water lilies on deconstruction, taking apart Monet’s structure and rebuilding it in way that allows a new comprehension.

If Derrida’s deconstruction is messing up and rearranging; dismounting and remounting, inserting the hierarchies of a speech and the basis of an argument, Mario Pasqualotto uses a similar technology to the one used by Derrida, to question the binary opposition of structuralism.

Pasqualotto dismounts the hierarchic structures of Monet’s water lilies: light and shadow, meaning and signifier… arriving to an accidental resemblance between his coppers and Monet.

Here he arrives to pretence and he forces the perception of the water lilies, including references to Japanese bridges, changing the image with the decomposition of plans or through the title, which arrives to be a basic element of the process of interpretation.

One of the most impressive works is the decomposition in three plans of a picture of the ninfeas: sheets of cooper colored by the acid evoke the peace that surrounded Monet in his garden at Givengy. The garden shows up as a small paradise of great nature, forever far from man. Pasqualotto creates the feeling of closeness of the water with the water lilies leafs; a stair surrounded by water allows the viewer to get closer to the picture and over the methacrylate there are projections of neon lights.

In this manner, the construction of the visual language is converted into a game of artifice, which makes us want to know about truth. This take us to Heidegger[2] who, asking about the truth in art, ends up identifying art with truth. Finally Derrida[3], with the deconstructivist critic, analyzes truth to brake the internal contradictions of each system and its hierarchic relationships, showing how the acceptations of one single meaning can give a limited interpretation. Monet painted series to find out the different perception of the same object according to light and paining should be done in one quick session, before light changed.

On the other hand, Pasqualotto’s work is characterized by its slowness. If, as Dante said, painting is the most beautiful lie, and it’s only appearance, Pasqualotto’s coppers are the appearance of an appearance, because they aren’t painting but pure pictorial sensations produced by the corrosion of metal, a pure chemical reaction which generates stains of colour, suggesting the pictorial effect of dissolution of the form.

This appearance takes us to Derrida’s theories about the impossibility to distinguish between real and representation in the visual language. An example of this deconstruction are Van Gogh’s “shoes”. According to Derrida, they aren’t the shoes of a peasant nor even Van Gogh’s shoes (as Heidegger and Schapiro speculated). They’re not even a pair of shoes because noting shows that they are from different feet. Like these, Pasqualotto’s water lilies aren’t water lilies and even less, painting.   

These from series that to Mario Pasqualotto dedicates to Monet follow an interpretation line that can be found Hokusai a Picasso. Between 1823 and 1831, Hokusai panted his impressions of the landscape in his “36 views of the Fuji volcano”. The artist o ukiyo-e[4], one of Miro’s and Chillida’s favourite’s, influenced the impressionist painters with the aesthetics of the Japanese print, preceding Monet’s series.

Picasso dedicated a large series to Velázquez’ “La Meninas” and now Pasqualotto does the same with Monet, showing, once again, that interpretation is a creative act with no limits.

Marga Perera











With Mario Pasqualotto…

Glòria Bosch

Mario Pasqualotto


I’ve always tried to liv in an ivory tower,

but a tide of shit strikes its walls and constantly

threatens to wear I away.

Gustave Flaubert


G.B. Beside the panoramic window of the skyscraper’s tower which is the Piramidón, you face an urbanized city facing the sea. But also, subtlety, hand written on a blackboard, you have where to relax the look.

The tide inclusive arrives to those who want to stay inside the studio… the look follows several itineraries and meets with other windows… fragments, paintings, reinterpretations… they open ways to landscapes of existence… landscapes that, in your work, deal with fragility, pain, memory, time, escape… One of your exhibitions is dedicated to the book Si esto es un hombre, by Primo Levi… he writes exactly about the human capacity of building a place, of making a protection layer, of building a subtle defensive barrier, including in desperate situations.

There are always two aspects of your work which come together: literature and research: Marías, Pessoa, Pasolini, Primo Levi, Benjamín, Kafka… now Monet. Do synchronies have to do with your life? How do you arrive to all those different authors?


M.P. I would dare to say that books search for you.

No, we search them as a metaphor. Books scrutinize you, they are an endless fountain of images and living that get a shape in our mind and make you become part of the emotion of creation. The author seems to live again in us in each paragraph, when he makes us see and live his caprices, obsessions, reflections and paradoxical situations.

They are authors/books which deal a lot with pictures/landscapes/settings/environmental, humid, dry, arid, mild, sweet and at time terrifying.

There are authors who underline our own lives and our memory… Do you remember Farenheit 451?

G.B. Yes, not reading is equivalent to not thinking… the book burning fictioned by Bradbury, because thinking was putting obstacles to Montag’s government. The idea of many “Montags” is that of always secret group of living books, as the ones suggested by the author. Does life imitates art much more than art imitates life? Oscar Wilde believed it when he wrote The decadence of lie, in 1890…

M.P. Art imitates much more life, I suppose. Our daily life and everything which surrounds it is much more hallucinating!

G.B. When Monet had his garden built, with the bridge, the water lilies… was his perception amplified?

M.P. Maybe the building of his own setting allowed him to build his own reality, apart from the other reality, already clear… a good exercise would be to visit the garden and verify that his vision of the landscape doesn’t correspond to the viewer’s look… it works well as an example of the way of feeling the garden in 1890… mental landscapes grow inside us…

G.B. Monet’s garden, through a process of abstraction, becomes a painting, but before, other process has converted the artist’s mental paint in nature, in life… There, the origin and the totality of the universe is concentrated, issues of naturalist reality are inverted to create a place of poetry and painting… Do the limits between art and life get mixed?

M.P. An artist, in certain moments, surprises himself.

G.B. The human and artistic origin of the landscape seen by Alain Roger?

M.P. The landscape is dead. Hurray to the landscape.

Let’s talks about landscape: everything is landscape. The “aesthification” of an ecosystem! To a peasant, the vision of the landscape is different to that of a person who lives in a big city.

G.B. You have been progressively leaving painting behind since the 80’s, even if now we can find a pictorial background: the treatment of light and of colour, the transparencies, the structure, decomposition, qualities of copper… but with relation Monet’s work, your changing happens in the same work. Why the Nhympheas?

M.P. While I was arranging m home’s library (a cheap model of IKEA’s sales)… I meet again Monet, the nymphs, the “built” garden, the “pavilion for a single artist”, water, everything came from the water string, a series of works in which I was trying to apply chemical processes, reactions... and trying to create atmospheres which are totally abstract/ water/ humid/ life, at the end… also relating with the water ways and the close relation between the water-mills and factories. Here we go back to the beginning, where life is more important than art, and people above everything.

Mental landscapes that only exist to those who observe the painting, but, in reality, it is the viewer who deciphers it and he makes it real according to his own capacities and amplitude of views, including with the attitude which he approaches to a “work”… Could we come closer to literature, as an exercise which doesn’t intent to understand what you see but what you don’t see? Feeling?

G.B. This installation integrates the viewer in the same creative atmosphere… it moves on water… you can try the feelings that came out of the work: the humidity, rain, calmness silence, fragility, memory… nature and mind in your life… there is a philosophic attitude in your work, open to the senses and to the reflection about life which turns into alchemical process… earth, water, air, light… there is a deep coincidence between that natural action, the changes, passing time… but while Monet wants to capture the process, the ephemeral condition of things, you build from the same fragility, from the transformation that life gives us. All those elements that come out of Monet’s garden, like the japanese bridge and the water lily leafs, are converted into metaphors of your inner landscape… each piece is a search to try sensations, such as the fall into water… explain us the process of your work since its debut, when you made Hilo de agua…

M.P. It has to do with patches and mills of the spinneries, centers of production, etc… I work on copper boards, inducing the material’s degradation through chemical procedures. It is a slow process, sometimes there are works which take four months to de destroyed, until its later arrestment, or no. And then, the later protection.

G.B. You are interested in experimenting with the action of time, which actuates in the materials, its physical, chemical and plastic properties… the copper board… the free work, left to the process, which changes according to the environmental conditions… time as a process of constant mutation where everything is converted into landscape… fragile, ephemeral…, expressed through humidity, water, transparency… time as a symbology through objects and materials: urns, lead, the glass tears… a time sewed, the 40 tears… The extremely fragile character of your papers as objects makes me think that your work gathers fragile existences with sharp questions… When you presented the Casa del tiempo in the Tecla Sala del Hospitalet, in 1992, José Carlos Suárez ended his text saying that “the only possible permanence is the landscape, in changing, in the continuous metamorphosis. The suite Le pont japonais, on hand-made paper of a windmill retakes the beginning?

M.P. Takes the circle, to close it with one step from one side to the other, working with industrial materials and sewed “collage”, where less is still more… I feel attracted by the concept of fragility, as those bridges which are suspended with extremely fragility but resist to everything in front of inclemency… such as life?

G.B. As life… live in a space in the past, the present and the future. The space inside the space, a container of containers which also expresses silence, the one who keeps shut between the border of visible and the invisible… open doors where to find life and dreams, as the plate and the plume of the writers you represent in one of your works… Fear in nailed in many lives and attitudes, is the fear of so many people who don’t know how to react in front of the multiplicity of ways that open them… but these explosions -according to Argullol – give us such a fear the we rather live in the sordid peace of a no way out street.. and this is exactly the opposite of what a creator feels in front of an invisible string that gathers all the things in the world, like now he gathers these fragments… Let us do a circle, a sum of all you have lived, though, felt, wished… The end is a beginning where the painter has nothing else but himself?

M.P. … and the same goes back to the theme of his life… the intangible images.


[1] ADORNO. “La educación después de Auschwitz” (1967), en Consignas.

[2] HEIDEGGER, Martin. “El origen de la obra de are” (1952), en Arte y poesía.

[3] DERRIDA, Jacqes. La verité en peinture (1978).

[4] Ukiyo-e: (Uki: floating; yo: world; e: painting) “Painting of the floating world”, from the 17th to the 19th Centuries. This was the decadent period of the Samurais and most representations were of the profane world, apart from Buddhism, and of daily life, appealing to seize he present moment.