When I first saw the imposing stencils plastered across Alvaro Sanchez‘s “MO75” I assumed the title referred to the name of the prescription painkiller. I knew this heavy-handed drug was used for acute sharp pain, and it seemed appropriate for a portrait of a man without an arm and an exposed bloody heart. When I spoke to Alvaro Sanchez about his work, he let slip the title referred to a cryptic message for a friend, but he did enjoy the interpretation.
Despite this initial reading, it is undoubtedly an examination of humanity’s relationship with our own bodies. Alvaro himself describes it as an examination of the human condition, and the bold evocative brush strokes are descriptive of the heavily textured work. We’re faced with a myriad of classical symbols: a saint, a prince, a knight, while an anatomical study all come to mind. “MO75” is best described as a fusion of this symbolism with a hit of modernist contemporaneity.
In this way “MO75” can also be seen to be examining what we value, and continue to value throughout history. We hold motifs and symbols (the three crucifixes at the top of the painting) as valuable, and are met with a swirling juxtaposition of brushstrokes similar to painters past such as Rauschenberg, Chagall, or Rothko.
I don’t think “MO75” acts as a painkiller. If anything, it reminds us of pain that has been endured. Images of war time injuries or human sacrifices are conjured through the stoic portrait of a limbless man. Blending modern stencil work with iconography of times past makes this complex and visually lush work our Piece of the Week.