SACRED AND PROFANE — ANDRES SERRANO
curated by Enrico Stefanelli
in cooperation with Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris-Bruxelles andGalleria Pack, Milan
In order to embrace and understand the pictures of Andrés Serrano we must first recognize the opportunity to go beyond what we see, stripping of any possible injury. Serrano’s photography is a tool through which it is still possible a redemption from taboos and social constraints, as well as a reflection on the presumed crisis of values of contemporary society.
The best way to awaken the conscience is to offer visual and content-strong, irreverent, abject choices. Some of the pictures of the American photographer upset and disgust, but at the same time they offer sublime and refined visions.
In the series Body fluids and Immersions (1985-90), Andrés Serrano’s ideas are expressed through a simple and direct language, where elements of sacred iconography are profaned both conceptually – starting from the title – and materially, with the artist’s immersion in body fluids. The works of these series legitimate a dialogue between the sacred and the profane, testing a new way of communication. Serrano can be considered an engraver of contemporary reality, which he describes combining atavistic human need to believe in the symbolic value of some objects with the widespread hypocrisy, where the sacredness of the cult is denied by the actions of real life, too involved in the redefinition of a reverse and sometimes perverse scale of values.
In 2011, with the series Holy works, Serrano strips of the iconoclastic tones that characterized his previous works, moving towards a new interest on the sacred icons borrowed from Italian art in the XIV and XV centuries. In the works of this series we read a will to recover pictures that are traditionally recognizable to enhance its great communicative power.
Andrés Serrano represents the tragedy of contemporary man split between sacred needs and secular trends and does it consciously, through the medium that is most striking: the picture. “My works are clear. They talk about life, death, religion, sex. They do it in a direct way, but not brutal because I always try to make them refined.” (Andrés Serrano)