Mariano Vargas se enamoró de la belleza antes de alcanzar el uso de razón. Ajeno a las modas, Mariano Vargas ha ido elaborando un inmenso y particular mundo que combina con éxito tradición y contemporaneidad.

La obra de Mariano Vargas se encuentra imbuida por el misterio surreal que imprimen las combinaciones imprevistas pero posibles, los espacios oníricos pero reconocibles, el erotismo turbador pero elegante. Todo apoyado con una técnica impecable y un sentido compositivo derivado de la tradición.

Como podía ser previsible, dadas las características apuntadas, Mariano Vargas está siendo requerido internacionalmente y en un corto espacio de tiempo ha recibido un importante premio británico (10th Charity Erotic Awards-Photographer of the year) y ha sido seleccionado por la editora Taschen como uno de los mejores fotógrafos eróticos de la actualidad.

Mariano Vargas. Photo: Juan Jesús Barragán

Photo: Juan Jesús Barragán

It all starts with a flash of intuition. Mariano Vargas walks and breathes with the senses always alert to any hint of beauty. It can be anywhere and at any time. Do not be fooled by the obvious and seeks relentlessly. Stare at a half-naked shoulder illuminated by the lamp in a cafe and blurred by diffuse lines of smoke. Scrutinize the forced smiles looming behind the shop counters to find a different one. Ever found him in the hurried footsteps of a stranger because he thought to see askance at a neck bearing Renaissance. It is the beginning and the end. Beauty is trapped in the form of unique women with an enigmatic silhouette.

The photographer appeals on the painter who never left him and draw a quick sketch on paper to keep the moment. The woman brings her presence; he creates the circumstance that makes woman the axel around which the world revolves without her knowing. Find the woman and the woman says with no words that she can be. She takes off her clothes and leaves it to the space created by the photographer to wrap her to show what it has always been unknowingly. A madonna holding in her hand a metal flower with impossible edges, another allows a snake to wrap itself around his translucent neck and a third challenges herself in the mirror without fear of losing the battle.

Mariano Vargas ranges from a past settlement of references and a future in which he decides the end of each story. The camera is a little more than a replacement of the brush. He uses without complexes the tools available to approach the perfection of the lines and color. He is Building scenarios, dressing, undressing, by studying each point of the light, making and breaking. Only when seeing in front of him what he imagined a bare shoulder under the lamp in a cafe press the trigger and gives life to a madonna.

Sandra Balvín

Serie Soltanto Madonne
Neobaroque (theatrical) Snapshots

“Those who love painting are suspicious. Life is not observed. What animates the animality of the animal, which encourages the animality of the soul, not distance itself. The ego wants the reflection, the separation between inside and outside, death of that which is coming and going constantly from one to another. We must also love the ignorance of which we can not leave it is life itself that persists in it. Any man who thinks he knows is estranged from his head and the originative random. Any man who thinks he knows holds the severed head above the mirror. What dooms the fascination (to the erotic distress) is also what protects him from madness.”

Field of violence, what happens in eroticism is the dissolution; the destruction of being closed is a normal condition in participants in the game. One form of extreme violence is the nudity, which is a paradoxical state of communication or, better, a tear of being, a pathetic ceremony in which occurs the transition from humanity to animality: “decisive action is placed naked. The nudity is opposed to the closed state, that is to say the state of being discontinuous. It is a state of communication that reveals the potential of a continuity of being beyond an inward-looking. The bodies are open to the continuity secrets through those channels that give us the feeling of obscenity. The obscenity means a condition that disturbs a state of bodies under the possession, possession of durable individuality and affirmed”. As Jean-Luc Nancy has pointed out; the body is the certainty of splintered confusion. Just own, nothing more alien to our old world. In this embodiment extreme (for example, in the image of the Sacred Heart) are bound native and foreign. "The anxiety, the desire of seeing, touching and eating the body of God, to be that body and of being nothing but that, it is the principle of (none) reason for the West. So, the body never took place there, least of all when there are so named and convoked him. The body is always sacrificed for us: the host”. It is true that the body is a late product, a settling of the West in which appears the feature, crucial, of the fall: it is the last weight, it is valid to say, gravity. But we could also talk about the body as something glorious, a jewel or something “theatrical” as seen in the hypnotic photographs by Mario Vargas.

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud notes, that consciousness arises in the trace of a memory, that is, from the thanatic momentum and degradation of the experience, something that photography holds as duplication of reality but also as a theatre of death. At the age of the ruins of memory (when the cathode vertigo has imposed its spell) time is dismembered, “that dismemberment -writes Trias- emerges the presence of reminiscence”. The art knows about the importance of highlight itself from the time to find the correlation as a meeting (involuntary memory) that stops the accelerated discourse of reality. Vargas composes his photographs as a kind of theatre of memory in which Renaissance art is parodied from a neo-baroque sensibility. His Madonnas seducing with the sweetness of their bodies, with the power of her looks, but above all by the sophistication of the montage in which they are inserted. Nothing has been left to chance, everything is part of a poetics of quotation and complicity in the religious iconography and, especially, the image of the Virgin is a singular subject to revision without falling, at any time, in the vulgar provocation. This does not fit the “scandal” except to verify that the post-historical art has total freedom to appropriate the manners of the past without resorting to academic cliches. The neobaroque way enter, at any time, the unreality, seduces us, as is evident in the photographic imaginary dense Vargas, with the proliferation of simulacrum. Baroque aesthetics looking permanently surprised and wonder, want to move, even through the suspension, the public. Since the blur to the sketchy, unfolds a unique technique of suspense. All are responding to the need to get the wonder. And indeed, the artist's works take us beyond the rhetoric (quasi-hegemonic) trauma to remind us that what we would like to live beautifully. What engages us is how real, it also eludes symbolization, is about the ineffable.

Ecce Homo: the body is wound. Our age is full of scars and tattoos, but the look that it imposes is that of the lidless eye. “As in the Middle Ages, the representation of the body is only tolerated if it seems broken, fragmented, dismembered, or “re-stucked” or traced as unprecedented procedures”. But I insist, compared to the iconography of suffering or the suffering body is possible, as Mario Vargas does make a renewed idea of beauty that became, for the modern Orthodox, taboo. The truth is that when we look at the photographs, almost paintings of Vargas, we can not stop thinking about the beauty of their bodies, so refined aesthetics of montage, in luxury fabrics, in the power of color, this is, the ability to create beauty even bringing it up to an excessive limit. It is as if everything were the size of the ornament or jewel. It should be noted that when the subject is too close to fantasy occurs (self-) effacement. So is the artwork as aphánisis. We seek, sometimes, in the works as in people a secret treasure that might have to do with desire, with the jewel that shines in darkness and seduces us dizzily, as the agalma which guarantees a minimum of fantasmatic consistency to the being of the subject: the object a as an object of fantasy that is more than just myself, whereby I perceive myself as “worthy the desire of the Other”.

In his seminar on love, Lacan finds in the image of Santa Teresa that is at Santa Maria delle Vittoria in Rome an essential reason to be analyzed, although the thought is bound to fail, “just go to Rome and see the statue of Bernini to immediately understand it enjoys, without a doubt. And what is enjoying about? It is clear that the essential testimony of the mystics is just to say what they feel, but do not know anything”. It is the enjoyment of the woman what is over, or better, it is a form of pleasure that is beyond, something she feels but about which there is no knowledge. Lacan even suggests that one can interpret the face of the Other, the face of God, as the support of female pleasure. A presence of the unspeakable, that form of the truth sought experienced in the mystical. The desire is part of a contingency from the body, is from a face as the pleasure is evoked or summons. There is in this relationship a desire to know, the only thing that is apparent is that the body is something that causes amazement. And, indeed, the photographs by Mario Vargas have that potential neo-baroque to seduce and reveal a dimension of enjoyment as something more. All those beautiful women who are portrayed allegorized at the same time, religion and the profane: the transcendent and the pleasure, magic and the quotidian. We see women enjoying with some video games or making soap bubbles, squeezing oranges or with a laptop on her lap, but that's all staged as if that old painting pious, revisiting the sacred at a time of rites without ceremony.

“The absence is taken as the occasion of the act of state, as a reason for the portrait. The scenery which embodies the invention is a sentimental device: image is the retention of the absent, the person who will go “abroad”. The face is the ungraspable of all portraits; it is an epiphany that you can never encompass. It may happen that the face is nothing more than the backdrop of a scene that does not manifest itself only in intervals, something under permanent metamorphosis. We also know that fantasy governs reality and that you can never wear a mask without paying for it in the flesh. The Other can be characterized as an abyss, the same way that the symbolic order is concealed by the fascinating presence of the fantasy object. “We experience it every time we look in the eyes of another person and feel the depth of his gaze”. In the case of Mario Vargas aesthetic does not dominate the atmosphere nihilistic as to the contrary a felling of sensual fullness; his Madonnas has something hieratic but launch mischievous smiles, as if about to give up her “character”. Quite a few of the images introduce elements, details or, to use a barthesian notion, the punctum that disrupts the general “monumentality”: either the mills shown through a window or on the mise en abyme posed by the presence of a camera in her hands of one of the “sanctified” women.

All the work of Vargas compels us try to touch the body with the incorporeal sense. Perhaps we should make sense a touch, tact, poise. That touch is the limit, the spacing of existence. I think, after these marauding in which would account for an extraordinary event, that what matters is to touch things with our tongue. “Touching the interruption of sense, -says Jean-Luc Nancy-, this is what, for my part, I am interested in the matter of the body”. We touched bottom, or better, we realize the ground. As I touch my foot; it's about touching outside. The self is a touch of the outside but on the whole body is a tone, a tension (veering towards rigor mortis or the inconsistency of decay). “A body is what pushes the boundaries to the extreme, blindly, tempting, so touching. Experience of what? Experience of “felling”, of touching himself. [...] The body is the experience of touching the untouchable indefinitely, but in the sense that the untouchable is nothing that is behind or an interior or inside, neither a mass, nor a God. The untouchable is what touches. You can also use another word to say this: what touches is what is touched, it is about emotion.” .What touches the art or rather what they are approaching is the figuration of absence. While obsessively repeat the thing, we must also accept that the image is an incarnation, a resounding presence of something that gives us aesthetic pleasure. That is what mobilizes Mario Vargas: the desire to create beauty in the combination of bodies, clothing, decor, and all sorts of sophisticated details.

Bare breasts star in the series of Soltando Madonnas, in counterpoint to a PSP, some balls, a pearl evoking Vermeer, sacred hearts or some old keys. These images are at the same time, dense and immediate, concrete and allegorical. The origin of allegory is the commentary and exegesis, are images that have been subject to an appropriation: “It is this metatextual aspect which invokes when attacking allegory as interpretation merely added post facto to a work, an ornament or a rhetorical ostentation”. Mario Vargas does not think, to the Lacanian manner, that horror is the core of reality but rather that we are able to imagine something that is not necessarily sordid or pathetic. He shares in some extent, with Christine Buci-Glucksmann the idea that baroque reason is a theatricality of life. So writes her tableau vivants, models involving its fantasy in a world that links the past with postmodernism Renaissance. And besides, poses this revival “historicist” without falling into a pretentious tone, opting toward the ironic or even humorous clearly, for example, when one of the madonnas carries the head of Darth Vader in a tray.

As noted in Thalassa Sandor Ferenczi, erotic passion is a battle where you must decide which of the two adversaries, both beset by nostalgia of the lost womb; get forcing access to the body of another to reach the ancient domus. Perhaps Seneca is right and birth is a pleasure that dies, original coition foreshadows the dark end, the embrace in which pleasure is totaled makes ephemeral happiness. Sum: Coitabant. Mario Vargas reformulates one of the “original” scenes of the western cult: the virgin who bears the child show us her tattooed back with a picture that looks like a flash bestial. When her nudity becomes frontal she decides to cover her pussy with the holy figure that acquires a dimension of a mere “puppet”. There is no shame in the act but an extreme mischief. Undoubtedly, the movement (neo) baroque inherits many things of mannerist trials, but now, on the gestures, the details that give us clues are almost dreamlike. I think the photograph entitled Woman, horse, tree that has a gothic atmosphere and at the same time, perverse, or in the still life of the Madonna squeezing oranges with grenades (the eleusinian symbol that marks the inevitable return of the maiden to the realm of the dead) open first, as a review of an academic gender in a casual dimension. In the foreground they can be operating at a cuddly toy or appear in the background a classical picture of the expulsion from Paradise. The serpent of temptation crosses the half-naked bodies and some soap bubbles remind us that all is vanity. The conclusion of The Tears of Eros of Bataille is about the horror identity and religion, that is, the sacrifice or torture that puts us in the zone of extreme enjoyment. Luckily Mario Vargas reveals, photographically but with the memory of the history of pictorial imagery, that sensuality and pleasure have many other ways too, less phobic, more tempting, pleated baroque as fabrics of the most luxurious dresses, unveiled as the breasts of the appetizing madonnas. The theatre of women's bodies does not stop attracting us; those eyes strip those that dare to play the game. Variegated pleasures (neo) baroque: singular portraits of fur and curtains, windows and frames, nipples and details, games and events, of everyday magic.

Fernando Castro Flórez