'In 2007, I visited gallery Funaki for the first time and I felt I had discovered something significant to me. I thought to myself, here is a language I can see myself speaking, but first I need to learn. Today, I think I am ready to introduce myself. “Hi, I am Marcos and I am an artist. I make jewellery”.(1)
Dedication, refinement and discipline are all words that come to mind when thinking about Marcos Guzman’s practice. These words are true but also limiting in that they do not convey the complexity of emotion in his approach to making. Materials in Marcos’ hands are transformed into complex forms, conceptual artworks resilient on both the hard architectonic surfaces of the gallery or the softer and more undulating surfaces of the body. Like a Fluxus box they contain slight or secret instruction, works that at first seem polished and contained but when engaged with, unravel with playfulness and feeling.
In conversation Marcos cites various inspirations for his work from Modernist theories of colour and light, Henri Rousseau’s paintings of animals and jungles, to the observation and repair of Lalique glassware, or Susan Cohn’s artworks from her Techno-Craft period. There are also connections in this new body of work to significant jewellery moments and heroes like the elegance and formwork of Marc Monzó’s jewellery, the colour and sculptural qualities of a Lucy Sarneel artwork or the use of modern and ancient typographies in the work of Otto Künzli. But when looking at Marcos’ work I also think of the recurring house motifs in Narrm/Melbourne based artist Aleks Danko’s artworks, or the liveliness and colour of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica’s environments and Tropicália from the late 1960s.
Funaki Director Katie Scott writes Marcos’ work is “machine-like in its accuracy and refined minimalism – the poetry of his ideas hinted at more by the titles he gives his work than the perfect simplicity of their forms”.(2) Marcos’ artworks are exacting and precise, the function of his handmade fittings and findings elegantly following their forms. But they are also full of life and colour, layers of oversized straws fashioned into necklaces, surfaces like Perspex or phenolic plastic painstakingly etched into or drawn on and wax joyfully formed into one-off, singular sculptural rings. As well as poetry there is humour here and magical realism. These aspects of Marcos’ artworks are tangentially revealed through the artist’s praxis: his own writing about his work, for instance the book of poems that accompanies this exhibition, wherein materials have their own voices and characters, and daydreams become vacations or vice versa. Or from the artist’s Instagram feed where strange stories emerge from long hours at work or in the studio. Jewellery emerges from within the artist’s environments, like a filter across the world it appears in everything; a question in a down-light, a bangle in the base of a cement pylon, a bezel setting in an image of a stadium, a catch chain on a doorhandle, a claw setting on a table and chairs or a pair of pearl studs in an assembly of floating, helium-filled balloons.
Meredith Turnbull, 2019
1 Marcos Guzman in conversation via email 8th October 2019.
2 Katie Scott, Aurora Australis at Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h, 2018.