Magic Realism

by Ewa Kuriluk (*)
   ' The painting of Hector Giuffré belongs to the broad stream of figurative art that emerged in the sixties, was frequently inspired by photography, and has been referred to as "New Realism:' "Hyper-" and "Superrealism." Within this international movement Giuffré has carved for himself a distinct niche. Classical in their clarity and solidly present, his paintings are indebted to Italian, Spanish, and Dutch art, in particular to the magic realism of the seventeenth -century trompe-l'oeil still lives, interiors, and portraits with their complex perspectives, optical effects, doublings, mirrorings, and omnipresent play of light-pouring from outside and making objects throw the most complicated shadows. But Giuffré's is also a highly personal and contemporary art that quotes the past in order to illuminate the present and to imbue it with meaning. However, questions arise: Is that possible? Can one use the devices and techniques of 'the old masters' without becoming an epigone? Can one practise mimetic art in a world saturated with photographic and electronic illusionism? A theoretician and teacher of art as well as an artist, Giuffré does not evade this problem. He reflects on it in his writings and proceeds to prove to us that one can still paint illusionist pictures as long as one makes them different from the images generated by the media. The keywords of his artistic language are depth, suspense, intimacy. The most convincing object of his paintings is the painter himself, his pursued time, consuming and solitary, his self burning with the passion of fixing on canvas a piece of reality nobody else sees or gives a damn about. In the age of simulation, when replicas are created without the existence of an original, an art like Giuffré's touches upon an almost utopian desire that, wishing to hold to a world slipping out of our hands, turn to the ancient procedures or sympathetic magic in which replication equals appropriation.

Ewa Kuryluk is the author of "Salomé and Judas in The Cave of Sex" (Northwestern University Press, 1987), a study of the origins, iconography, and techniques of the grotesque. Text published by "Formations", Northwestern University Press,
on 1988