Ernesto Rancaño’s naked bodies have their marble sensuality originated in the romantic tale of beauty, in a sense that it resides beyond the immediate desire or blood pulse. They are images of an intense lyricism, outcome of a pathos harshly contained in the elasticity of the skin, the strength of the spine, the weight of the arms. Nakedness is an allegory in Ernesto Rancaño’s work.
He catches the exhalations of the human body through photography thus creating unnamed-canonical beings. Since his concern is the light offered by the flesh he manipulates the frozen whiteness enhancing its features, lines and consonants. Thereby he eliminates the attached morbid eroticism of nakedness, by stripping the body of his function as attire possessed, and turning it into a territory for the expression of stigmas and urgencies. Rancaño knows there’s a natural mechanism under the skin that allows men to feel the wicked reality around him; that stimuli, pressures and blows have induced him to a state of positive numbness or emotional contention as a defensive strategy. He knows the body is a false shell, a ripped curtain, which conceals a mystery as urgent as the apparent stimuli that seduce it and hurt it.
That way he symbolizes the strength of such armor and by taking the carnal nudity as motif, paradoxically, denotes its ineffectiveness as a strategy of resistance. Nada is the image of the naked body of an angel whose wings have been deployed and armed by useless magnifiers. We’re already forewarned: nothing will find this being of wisps that has spent its existence seeking the sublime. Arms like wings, young as trapped butterfly and the emptiness advertising itself under the reign of infinite space. As such remains, insubstantial, condensed in the neatness of an entirely white background. The arms, as spread wings, hold the useless weight of the magnifiers. Those magnifiers, which stigmas, prevent its flight. And the being pays the price for their stubbornness.
Jacques Lacan once said in The Seminar on The Purloined Letter that each work of art holds imaginary impregnations, which seed and nurture its symbolic source. These elements, far from referring to the essential meanings of human experience such as feelings, thoughts, senses, or rather abstractions of them, represent it from the unconscious.
In this regard it would be best to safely say that with each piece operates a network of signifiers, and it is the domain of the imaginary and insubstantial what controls, moves and orders it. Let’s explore the devices arranged as springs in Nada: first we shall find the negative character of its title, its reference to emptiness and close rubbing with the enunciation of failure. Then the chromatic sterility in which the image is resolved adds to that negativity, giving it rawness and unhealthy antisepsis. The strong irreverence of accolade gets ahead, sponsored by the will to hide rather than display; and the position of the body according to the shape of a martyr’s cross, without ignoring the stigma held by the magnifying glasses dangling from his arms. In short, the nagging presence of a strong smell of death pending off the skin, in the anonymity of the enigmatic being, in the vigor of the target, in the empty space, in the fatal gesture of crucifixion. Nada is, therefore, the embodiment inside the expressive vehicle of a naked body, sensitive and elusive forms of feelings that precede frustration. But this foretold death does not keep in his bed the slumbers of a tragedy. It seems that his body has been placed carefully, as the dying man who makes a worthy obituary. At this point this nauseating and grandiose image reminds of butterflies, attaching perfect bodies in thin and sharp pins.
Rancaño has caught the indescribable semblance of this feeling as one who suffers, and as a reminder or warning, he keeps it in a translucent stone. It has grabbed the indescribable appearance and terrible manifestations of an idea, stopped in its impetuous flutter. Here stands his monument. Undoubtedly Thanatos has been walking these lands. Undoubtedly his glass beads are these loupes.
–Luis Enrique Padrón