Versace has her as their masthead emblem and Ray Harryhausen scared children with his animation of her in Clash of the Titans but now Medusa’s beauty has been restored through the eyes of collagist extraordinaire Javier Piñón. “There was a collage in my Don Quixote show of the Greek hero Perseus as a Cowboy on his horse, holding aloft the severed head of Medusa. It was one of my favourite pieces from that show and the image of Medusa’s head just stuck with Me.” he explains how the mythic character became a focal point after working on mainly male dominated imagery.
Drawn to mythology and tales of heroic fantasy, his latest collage series, to be exhibited this Fall in Valencia at Galería Valle Ortí is a stark contrast to his cowboys of the Midwest yet they still retain Piñón’s distinctive style. It’s as if Athena’s curse has been lifted in the beautiful 50’s pin-ups with their iridescent skin, glowing demeanour and glamorous aura. Even the snakes are exotically colourful and enticing, these beauties are far from sinister, or are they? “The pin-ups do their best to tease and seduce you but there’s still the danger of getting lost, of being turned to stone.” Piñón explains as a deceptive element to his work is revealed. It’s hard to imagine these beautiful images have a darker undertone and I wonder how much he considers Beauty when making the collages? “I always try to make my work visually pleasing but the Medusas go a bit further because they’re not only beautiful but they are also about beauty, albeit the darker side. It’s a beauty that is also slightly repellent.”
When I ask him what he considers to be Beautiful, his response exposes his fascination to all things of ‘age’, “Paint pealing off old wood. Rust spreading across a metal surface. Water stains on yellowed paper. Bones.” So it’s not surprising that he spends a lot of his time in used bookstores, finding that elusive imagery to complete a collage, “The collages are like Puzzles’ he tells me, often months are spent searching for images, or sometimes “it seems like they make themselves. That’s when the magic happens.” Let’s hope the imagery for his Valkyrie series does not elude him for too long!
Javier Piñón is represented by ZieherSmith, New York