"Sud Africa", 1988, Monoytype (1/1), 20" x 26 1/2," (Collection of Joe Overstreet and Corrine Jennings, Kenkeleba House, New York, NY).
Chilean-born artist Patricio Moreno-Toro's image entitled Sud Africa metaphorically examines South Africa's late-20th Century human rights struggle against apartheid. This insightful and expressive work emotively measures the "real" cost of civil rights, human rights, the right-to-vote, and other prerequisites of a free-society, gauging the price of these rights in terms of freedom and death. Today, as state-after-state passes unjust laws that diminish the Constitutional rights of Latinos, Toro's 1988 image holds direr and prophetic 21st Century warnings, presaging Latinos living in Alabama, Arizona, and other states where Latino civil-liberties are currently unfairly trampled.
German phenomenologist Martin Heidegger argued that real "freedom" necessitates a deep meditation (or direct confrontation) with death. According to Heidegger, only a face-to-face awareness of death can breed authentic-freedom (accounting for an innate or inherent sense-of-freedom within each human being). Heidegger's ideas are almost identical to those of Federico Garcia-Lorca's Theory of the Duende (1933), ascribing a "here-and-now" (present) confrontation with Saturnal Death as the source of the rarest and most precious form of artistic creativity: duende ("WHAT IS DUENDE" which signifies a mano-a-mano encounter with Death, prompting true FREEDOM and mega "creativity." Thus, this unique yearning for Thanatos ("death") ultimately inspires or provides in all freedom seekers a selfless willingness to die for freedom. This inimitable "freedom/death" matrix places a fearless Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the head of a dozen perilous US Civil Rights protests against segregation; as well as rousing César Chávez to form a Chicano migrant-workers' union (the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA)) to fight for "La Causa" the rights of Latino workers, by his organizing intrepid "huelgas" against large commercial fruit-grower conglomerates, or causes the heroic Nelson Mandela to rise-up against injustice in South Africa, risking everything for the sake of FREEDOM.
In Moreno-Toro's 1988 Sud Africa, the above-described Heideggerean amalgam of Thanatos and Liberty is reflected in the monotype, echoing events that occurred in South Africa in 1988, where bombs exploded (each day) throughout the nation, filling rooms with smoke and death, escalating an anarchic national-crisis, resulting in the 1990 liberation of Nelson Mandela from prison, as well as in 1993, termination of South Africa's official racial-apartheid system. In this light, Toro's duende-filled monotype offers an image of a televised news-broadcast wherein a glib TV "talking-head" is suddenly caught within a contiguous explosive "push-pull" milieu, asserting an organic-abstract Neo-Surreal and Informalist composition that indirectly alludes to frenetic black-&-white Surreal images painted by Toro's fellow Chilean artist, Roberto Matta Echaurren.
Through his virtuoso monotype image, Toro simultaneously melds or fuses a real-time TV newscast with a "just-detonated" actual NEWS-event vividly occurring before shocked-viewers gathered-around a levitating TV-set! These blown up highly-abstract viewers are reminiscent of humanoid beings that haunt the contemporary art works by Jorge de la Vega, Luis Felipe Noé, Jacobo Borges, Luis Caballero, and other late-modern Latin American masters of Neo-figuration.
Toro's 1988 monotype affords many helpful lessons about how disenfranchised people can begin to resist oppression. Due to the bevy of harsh 21st Century anti-Latino laws rising in Arizona, Alabama, and other states, the above-described listing of late-20th Century socio-political struggle(s) are important today, because the We Are You Project provides a modicum of hope against the onslaught of ethno-racist prejudices, unjust laws, and other rightwing affronts currently aimed at Latinos.
A student of acclaimed Chilean artist Nemesio Antúñez in Santiago (Chile), Toro has lived and worked in Paris (France), New York City (NY), and currently resides in Oakland (CA). Technically, Toro's monotypes owe a great deal to the late-African-American printmaker Robert Blackburn's acclaimed Printmaking Workshop, New York City (NY). In 1992, curator Rolando Castellon stated, "The implications of Toro's symbolism is not literal, although sometimes his work may contain delineated human figures in a violent context."
For more information about this artist please