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Chupicuaro: Middle
MIDDLE CHUPICUARO: (1984-1988): These are paintings on canvas or board using mostly an “exploded” human face which takes up all of the pictorial space within the composition. Throughout the Chupicuaro series, Mario Castillo, refuses to make use of the ears as part of the features of these rectangular-visaged images. In part, he takes the idea of an earless face from Vincent Van Gogh’s act of self mutilation, except here his “portraits” appear without his beard and his two ears. In this series, the closest portrait to Van Gogh would be “Someone Entering a State of Frenzy”.

What makes these paintings different from the earlier ones is their affinity for color. They are also more abstracted, to the point where in some cases discerning a human countenance becomes problematic. The idea behind the color lines floating in space comes directly fro Mario Castillo’s colored ribbon installations he did in 1968 and 1969. To see images of these please see “Installations”.

In addition, the lines in these Chupicuaro works borrow much of the linear layering from the 1960’s Mankind Symbol Period. The different dimensions established by the superimposition of these colorful lines give way to a spatial effect which is missing in the Early Chupicuaro Period. With these dimensional and variegated color lines, Mario Castillo achieves the seemingly infinite space that the Analytical Cubist paintings of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque imply with spotted textures and shaded planes of values. In essence, this work by Mario Castillo is about dissolving the figure. Of course this is also based on the same Cubist theories which gave way to Analytical Cubism. To read more on the concepts behind “dissolving the figure”, please refer to an essay that Castillo wrote for an exhibition he curated in 1995 at Triton College: the title for the exhibition and for the essay is the same; “Dissolving the Figure”. You will find this in the main home page under Documents.

The main concern here is that there is a synergetic “figure-ground relationship” being used that is different from the usual approach to this design principle. In the standard relationship you can distinctly tell where the “figure” which becomes the “ground” ends and vice versa. You can perceive two subjects which interchange their identity. But in Mario Castillo’s use of “figure-ground”, the boundaries between the two do not exist and one literally becomes the other. They are one and the same thing. This is one of the main reasons why Castillo does not usually paint ears as part of the facial features, because to do so would be to establish a framing device for the face, running the risk of being able to tell where the head ends and the background begins. Thus the face floats in infinite space.

During this period, Mario Castillo did a large portrait of David Alfaro Siqueiros and two smaller collages of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.