The Flaying of Mankind

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Polyphemus, 2015.

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Funnel, 1976.

Humans are anatomically raw in the cartoons of Xaquín Marín Formoso, cartoonist, theorist of cartooning and founder of Museo del Humor de Fene.

The humans before us have been flayed. Their skin torn off them, leaving them stripped to their muscles and bones.

Flaying is a death sentence. Flaying has been with us since Antiquity to a degree that it is part of the art historian terminology. It has a visual violence to it, which has appealed to Greek gods and despots alike through the ages.

By flaying the skin, the individuality is forced off the human, all by which he or she can be known. The protagonists before us are of the same shape as the weaponry and debris, which make up their physical world. Their anatomy mirrors the shiny metal, only they themselves are raw and soft, making the realization of the true state of their physical presence all the more painful.

They may be stripped of their individuality, but their emotional range of anguish, fear and pan is all there and we experience their fear and their anguish since it is our own. This is our world before us.

There is a span of nearly 40 years between the two cartoons above. The one-eyed giant - he who eats his prisoners - is from last year, while the silenced speech to the right was drawn in 1976; the year following the death of the Spanish dictator Franco and a democratic Constitution was as yet on the drawing board. The mouth has been forced open to give it the appearance of freedom. The Galicia of Xaquín Marín Formoso and with it Spain as whole know to the bone the vulnerability of democracy.

Xaquín Marín Formoso, The Dogs of Life, 1978.

The sense of transition may turn out to be the true state of mind as of society. The attempts are made to transition into a democracy and the transition in Spain did indeed prove successful. Yet, the state of alert is constant. Democracy in modern times is still a young political practice and at any time a one-eyed despot is heading an organization, while just as regularly corruption, racism and ecological calamity all join abuse of power as candidates to new structures of society. 

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Creation, date unknown.

For that very reason Xaquín Marín Formoso has returned to Neoclassicism. The  
-isms of Modernism which disrupted the visuals as we knew them to see the world anew in the years before the Spanish Civil War are too painfully connected to the politics of that time in history to be of inspiration.

So, rather than dissolving the human form, Xaquín Marín Formoso has wrung out the inner of man keeping the outer form, exposing our vulnerability to its raw state. The human form is then exposed to a visual chaos, which in fact turns out to be a visual concentration, seeing how each composition is building up to a calling out of desperation and pain, be it even a silent one coming from the throat slit by dogs. 

The double take on the artist's own hand, creator in composition as in calling out is before us too, although his personal favorite is the cartoon below. The quiet pain of a Gulliver forced to accept his situation of not fitting in. For once an idyllic world, perhaps since it is closing ranks against the newcomer outside. Drawn in 1975 and all too relevant today:

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Black, 1975.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Xaquín Marín Formoso and must not be reproduced without his permission. 

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