I don’t remember when I first met Montoto, but by the time I began to associate with the art world, he was already well-established. It’s been over 25 years now. I later designed several catalogs for him and got to know him personally. At that time, he often worked with art critic Rufo Caballero, who unfortunately passed away at the peak of his career. Rufo told me that Montoto’s entire discourse was based on deep intellectual convictions and that I should not be swayed by appearances, that beyond his almost absolute mastery of technique, there were deep philosophical reflections layered underneath. On another occasion, I also discussed this with David Mateo, the editor of Art Crónica magazine, and also a critic and art curator based in Mexico. He agreed with Rufo that there was a complex theoretical background to Montoto’s seemingly tropical hedonism.
I then began to see his pieces in a new light. I don’t try to guess today what’s behind each piece. I’m content with gradually incorporating certainties, slowly, without any rush, about the meaning of his painting. All philosophy—without distinguishing between Eastern and Western—is based on the observation of how the universal subject tends to complicate the elemental essences of existence. And in the foundation of such a study, it begins to entangle itself so much that it passes easily over the subject and ends up getting tangled up and tripping over its own feet. Perhaps Montoto’s work is an attempt to put a brake on that frenzy, and from compositions and discourse structures that are seemingly simple, to return to the basal moment where complementary realities coexist in perfect balance. All it takes is to pull on one thread to start tangling everything up. This is when the complications of existence start. His pieces, at least to me, are a warning of the danger of losing the center and losing sight of the meaning of ‘the thing.’
The artist himself assures us: 'My current work is the result of an inquiry into the pictorial visuality of post-renaissance heritage, modeled by the representational resources of Western tradition. I am particularly interested in the way historical Baroque unfolds its theatricality and converges in that zone of silence that Italian metaphysicians have maintained since their late medieval ancestors. The event held in time and the unfinished narrative, sign the space where shadows, marked by light, converge and point to an object of everyday insignificance, frugal and simple, unusual and strange, but also hedonistic and at times ironic. I intend for my work to transcend the pure aspect of naive belief in veristic representation and attract the viewer towards the space of reflection on the intentions of identification of the represented with reality through the conventions of identity and resemblance in which we have been educated.'
Jorge Rodríguez Diez | R10Director and Chief Curator