Iván CapoteExergo (Pleasure), 2011
Mixed media on cardboard, glass and wooden drawer, 89 x 66 cm.
Iván Capote has exploited in many of his works the plastic potential of the graphic markings of verbal language, but at the same time has also exploited the arbitrary character of the linguistic sign, thus through the use of visual games doing and undoing meanings with words. It is the opposite meanings that take place within the language system what makes it possible for the words to mean something, since there is no natural link between a verbal sign and its referent: the words mean what they mean because of a cultural convention. And it is in the materiality of language (whether written or oral) where you perceive the recognizable difference between a phoneme and another, between a signifier and another; which is the reason why the meaning never precedes the signifier, rather the latter is a condition of the possibility of its existence and all representation of reality.
Iván Capote knows very well how to play with this tool of the language. In many of his works he provides prominence, shape, color, a presence in space to that which remains invisible when we speak or write. He turns the principle of the game of differences into the basis of his creative process by converting one word into another by just changing one or some of its letters. By using diverse strategies of space distribution for the letters that make up words, he leads us to read always transforming one word into another, which in turn leads to a constant sliding of meaning; and this sliding from a signifier to another, from a meaning to another generates a collision of cultural references to which the signs point to.
This is what happens in a work such as Exergo (Pleasure) (2011). It deals with a drawer similar to those in office furniture; the artist has placed within it a piece of cardboard with a word painted on it (pleasure). Iván tears three sections of letters from the word, thus creating three new letters which make up in turn another word (lot). We perceive thus two words superimposed on the same surface, or rather one emanating from the other. A duality of meaning opens to our vision, since what we perceive as within the drawer can be read in two different ways, by virtue of the variation that the artist creates in the three of the letters that constitute the larger word. Thus we end up with two terms in English: “pleasure and lot.” The former meaning pleasure, plus its synonyms: taste, joy, enjoyment, delectation, etc. And “lot” which means a parcel, but also luck, fortune, destiny, etc. We can articulate in many different ways the meanings referred to by both word. One possibility would be that pleasure, joy, the joy of living depend on the lot, the luck or fortune we are dealt with at birth. But fortune might be manifold; it could be material fortune, but also cultural, intellectual or spiritual, as well as aesthetic, etc. On the other hand, one can be born without luck, without fortune, without a considerable lot, but depending on the person’s skills all that is something that can be built later in life, thus reaching that enjoyment, that joy, the pleasure of success. So, the relations of meanings could be infinite, and that is precisely what Iván Capote intends: he makes us see and experience language, as well as art, as inexhaustible.