Untitled (beauty) (2006) reflects the human obsession with beauty and body. Made of sponge, the two-foot-square drawing is from a series that capitalizes upon the material’s skin-like qualities and its associations with washing and cleaning—with beautifying. Water applied to the work’s spongy white surface has left a scar of permanently raised letters spelling “beauty.” The introduction of this loaded word into the material’s soft facade alludes to the invasive procedures many people undertake for the sake of beauty.
Beauty Spot (2003), a wooden relief of stacked letters, is more guarded. It is one of several works that approach the coded nature of communications regarding love and beauty by rendering related phrases almost illegible. In this case, each letter of the title is arranged to obscure the next, with the “b” closest to the viewer and the final “t” anchored to the wall. Coated in sensuous silver, the piece reflects the ambiguity of aesthetic judgment. When does a beauty mark become a mole?
Joseph and Steven (2006), a series of five framed collages, juxtaposes copies of archival photographs of seminal performative actions by conceptual artist Joseph Beuys (who argued in the 1960s and 1970s for the social responsibility of art) with a magazine’s restaging and treatment of the actions as fashion. Mediating between the magazine pages and Beuys, who brought physical confidence to unconventional looks, is text that appears to describe the trends advanced by both. Amado’s gesture emphasizes the confusion of art, fashion, beauty, and life.
The eventuality of decay is referenced through coded content and form in untitled (red morse code) (2006). The image’s lower portion is a grove of black, textured ink marks, while the upper half is a sea of red interrupted by white letters repeating the dots and dashes of “Death is the mother of beauty,” a haunting phrase by poet Wallace Stevens. With its ominous colors and somber text, the drawing reads like a tombstone—the ultimate signifier of mortality.
Me, We (1999) conveys the weightiness of Amado’s inquiries. The sculptural diptych consists of two shipping pallets—one rendered in white marble and the other in black granite. These minimal, repetitive forms made out of industrial material are anything but neutral. Sitting vulnerably on the floor, the empty pallets imply bodies and objects that no longer exist, and their racially charged colors hint at the cultural subjectivity of beauty. Yet, finally, each gains strength through its opposition to the other, and they join to communicate and affirm the title: We.
Amado’s visual poetics conceptually explore how ideas about beauty are communicated. His works suggest the role of taste, judgment, and personal perspective in this elusive, but eternally sought after, human quality.
- Kate Green