The body of work presented by Diogo Muñoz for Slouching Towards Perfect (in)Sanity reflects, first of all, a “an audacious and profoundly personal philosophical discussion” about one of the most remarkable characters in literary history: Don Quixote. In his paintings and drawings, the artist places the spectator in front of a universe that transcends the immensity of the knight of sad figure’s inhabited worlds. We face a created, or better yet, recreated, Don Quixote.
If we reduce Don Quixote to mere character, we run the risk of looking at him, from the outside, as the inevitable (and sad) figure, as something that’s «just there». However, when we look at him from the inside out, we consent an equally fragile psychological exercise. Diogo Muñoz approached him, fleeing from these analysis’ narrowing commonplaces, legitimizing the figure through its introduction into the real.
Muñoz thinks and describes Don Quixote as a producer of inscrutable, confuse, illogic, non-linear realities. A madman laughed at and scorned by the world, who, through delirious and fabricated stories, dreams of conquering the world and of handing it to a loved one. It’s the legitimization of insanity through passion, but also a shared experience, validated by each reader’s madness potential and the complacent mobilization of the irony left in us as elements of a society that validates norms, rules or behaviours.
Diogo Muñoz’s work reclaims and surprises us with the sight of this figure from our literary imaginary and places it in the centre of this exhibition. It’s through insanity that Quixote guarantees the eternal example of spiritual generosity. The sane could never be heroes. Only the passionate undertake fertile and lasting work, said Unamuno.
But the artist doesn’t just dedicate himself to a detailed and talented reproduction of the mad gentleman. He highlights the circumstances in which each scene. We identify truly surprising apparitions, such as the circus or a crucified animal carcass. The detailed compositions indicate intention. More than mere ornaments, the iconographic elements contribute to the discourse, keeping it coherent, even if they seem displaced in space and time.
The work’s timeframe seems to be one of the show’s most disturbing elements. Contemporaneity acquires a special response in Diogo Muñoz’s work. It’s built around a historic past - in Christian symbols, in the Gustave Doré figures, in a provocative academic graphic language – and of a future, an enchantment, a mad disposition for an action that is fundamentally human. Flat figures, opaque, incomplete, diffuse images. Human projects, mysterious, insecure, but absolutely necessary. Man more than sees, he predicts.
Diogo Muñoz summons the worlds of literature and art for this series. We’ve seen it so many times before in past occasions. Although here, he accentuates the reflexive and bold character of his work regarding human life.
(1) This text was based on “Diogo’s Don Quixote” (O Dom Quixote de Diogo) by Ricardo Roque Martins that integrates the Slouching Towards Perfect (in) Sanity catalogue.