“…are not really manifestos, in the usual sense. When I write some of those texts, I do it to reveal to myself something that I don’t know, as the ephemeral materialization of thoughts that are ephemeral too. I think that a manifesto should not propose an “ism” (a doctrine, system, school or movement), not follow trends or idologies nor seek followers. In my case a manifesto is just the manifestation of living thoughts with which I meet for the first time when they appear as words on the blank space of a paper or a screen.” -Gustavo Charif, in BFM (Malaysian radio), 2012.-


Please select a title to click and confuse you even more:

The Treachery of the Artists (a statement originally written in English and dated in Singapore, 2013).

Manifiesto Encarnado (originally written in Spanish and published in the catalogue-book for the solo exhibición Alquimia Profana -Profane Alchemy- in Maman Fine Art, 2002).

Main neuf Discours (series of precepts in an indecipherable writing, sent to 99 scientists, thinkers, writers and waitresses, from different countries in 1999) .

The Treachery of the Artists

words from elsewhere

The famous today’s artists… Could you have art from them? No, because they are doing just things that market wait from them. They are just a representation. So if I call them “artists”, I’d be lying.
-A. Gene Merritt: This is not an artist; 2010.-


At the current times, science has a deeper voice than art. Contemporary art has become a refuge to conformism, and most part of popular artworks are products of designers and con-artists to be consumed by people who want something “nice” in their walls, and followed by mesmerized snobs who want to be “cool”. In the opposite way, science ranks the space of creativity and investigation, a space that artists abandoned.

It is through the science that we are witness to the renaissance of creativity in new forms of expressions: the current molecular biology, the experimentation with artificial mutations, the future of cellular automata, the theory of Roger Penrose about an universe before Big Bang, the object visible to the naked eye into “a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving” (presented by American Physical Society in a report four years ago), the creation (by Craig Venter and his team) of the first self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell… all this is real avant-garde.

At the blind consent from contemporary art, science responds taking charge of hidden reality. We confirm that body heat does not dissipate mainly through the head, glass is not a slow-moving liquid, the different parts of your tongue do not detect different tastes, deoxygenated blood is not blue, chameleons do not change colour to blend in with surroundings… Humans have not only five senses. Contemporary science knows much more than contemporary art about human being and about the world where the human being lives.


The formal logic is older than the sun.


The cutting-edge scientists must be focused in the world to reach success. Contemporary artists must be focused in success to reach the world. That is because the art market changed the meaning of word “success”. Scientific success consists in a new discovery, and artistic success consists in being rich or famous. In this way, if you want to be a cutting-edge scientist, you need preparation and knowledge; but if you want to be an avant-garde artist, you need to be sociable, build a network with curators, influential and rich people. Nowadays you do not need talent, even do not need knowledge to be an artist.

But that is a blunder because success consists, actually, just in a well done work. And nowadays most artists fail, because they prefer to keep focused in commercial success rather than in the workflow. Because it’s easier to be famous than make a good work.

Thus, day after day, we see a lot of failures sold by millions in auction houses. Nevertheless, that does not change the quality. Cheap or expensive, waste are waste anyway, never mind the market value. In fact, several excellent artists died ignored or without money. And several rich and famous artists die without find a single real success in their work.

Death start when spectators think commercial success is equivalent to talent level. And when artists want belong to the club, even those who pretend to be different.

I have always been a fortunate man, because I never feel so lonely as to want be a member of the club.


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” -Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983).-

That concept works in science and technology. In technology you can change something and build models for the others. But I am not a technologist. I build a new model just to walk with my own shoes on my own path. And I don’t want followers of my model, because I am not a guru. I am just a being trying to express something.


The oddness of platypus forced him to be admired from afar.


I don’t believe in any movements or trends. The movement from today is a disguise of the conformism of the future.

At the beginning, everybody have nice intentions. The first surrealists wanted a total revolution. Some pop artists wanted to give a sarcastic view about consumerism and mass media. Many conceptual artists looked for a participative philosophy about the world and art itself. But soon, pop art turned into decoration to a new indifferent society, conceptual art became an entertainment for empty lives without own points of view, and finally an army of pop “surrealists” arrived for to make trivial Japanese dolls and “cute” children with big heads.

In the past, the mass media target was to brainwash the people. Today people do not need the media’s discourse, because people search on the net the daily shampoo for themselves. In the past, governments were concerned about the iconoclast artists. Today, the artists know that if they are iconoclasts, they have fewer opportunities to survive.


An artist is not a designer of pretty foolish things for entertainment and distraction. An artist is independent from trends, cultural movements, religious beliefs or political parties, and should work without regard the spectators. An artist traverses different realities and expresses fresh points of view.

I’m not talented enough to incarnate such a high level, but I don’t care.

I know my position is absurd. I’m not an admirer of Ionesco, but I remember now his play “Rhinoceros”. Day after day, everybody turns into rhinoceros; but Bérenger is the only human who does not give up to this mass metamorphosis. Bérenger knows he is completely alone, but he can’t renounce to his human nature. Never mind if the human trend is to turn into rhinoceros. Because he knows the human nature is being human until the end.

I feel sometimes like a kind of Berenger. Even in the last act, I can’t accept the “rhinoceritis”.


Art is a spaceship of thoughts, a way to be unpopular, critic and full of possibilities. Art exists beyond spectators, because reality is richer than any interpretation.

Gustavo Charif,

Singapore – Amsterdam, 2013. Revised in 2015.

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Para contemplar el paisaje más maravilloso del mundo, hay que llegar al último piso de la Torre de la Victoria, en Chitor. Hay ahí una terraza circular que permite dominar todo el horizonte.
-Jorge Luis Borges y Margarita Guerrero: A Bao A Qu, en El libro de los seres imaginarios; 1967-.

ENCARNACIÓN. f. Acto de haber tomado carne humana el Verbo Divino. • Embriol. Producto del germen del óvulo. • Pint. y Escult. Color carne con que se pintan los rostros de las figuras humanas.

ENCARNAR.Cir. Criar carne la herida cuando se va curando. • Introducirse por la carne algún instrumento punzante o cortante. • v. r. Mezclarse, incorporarse una cosa con otra.

En los últimos trescientos años y, más aún, durante el vacío de los últimos cincuenta años, la pintura occidental vivió en el cerebro más que en el cuerpo, basándose en la creencia de una naturaleza dualista. Pero cuando escuchamos al cuerpo, en mucho más sabio que el cerebro, nos indica que no existen oposiciones en la piel, ni en la vida cotidiana. Que no hay fronteras entre realidades o estéticas de apariencia contrarias o, incluso, entre cuerpo y “alma”.

La encarnación de ese punto indivisible es la comunión de las substancias en una vida única. Una vez allí, la experiencia corporeizada realiza al siamés (Hermes y Afrodita) no en Hermafrodita, sino en la y que los une y confunde. La Y es, por lo tanto y como buena griega que es, la reformulación euclidiana del cruce de calles (sin semáforos) en el destino de un lunático perverso. Pero no refiero a la locura (que, en términos rigurosos, no existe), ni elogio al mal. Por perverso (etimológicamente, otra versión al invertir, volcar o dar vuelta), entiendo al único, al indivisible, que no comprende el dualismo. Por lunático, me refiero al que reúne en un mismo cuerpo las facultades del lunar, pues el lunar es blanco en el cielo deshumanizado y negro en la humana piel. Tan celeste como terreno, el lunar es ojo y círculo; tapa, pinhole (orificio de aguja) y cámara obscura; matrimonio de los supuestos opuestos. Y la luna (Mond) también es espejo (Spiegel). Así, un cuadro encarnado es, por ejemplo, un espejo cóncavo que corresponde a una realidad convexa. En él no hay presentación (“esto no es una pipa”), ni representación (“pipa”): hay encarnación.

Un cuadro encarnado no es una pipa ni deja de serla por convertirse en cuadro. Es el verbo de la pipa encarnado en los fumadores de tabaco.

En la encarnación no hay figuración, abstracción, clasicismo, informalismo, pintura, dibujo, objeto, performance, instalación, collage, vida, muerte, todo, nada, objetivo, subjetivo, pictórico, literario, sueño, vigilia, realidad, irrealidad… Todo ha sido fundido y resuelto en un atanor de orquestación perfecta, y cada cuadro se convierte en aludel. Es el reino del artesanado.

Artesanos, fueron los grandes maestros de la pintura medieval quienes, sin pretender originalidad y buscando el dominio de los santos oficios, fueron los más originales al día de hoy.

El artista de hoy es aquel que “ejercita un arte bella” para vivir en la superficie, en tanto el artesano “ejerce un arte u oficio mecánico”, maneja la artesa con la que produce el pan y, a la vez, el artesano es un “pozo tubular muy hondo”: la espagírica y la ciencia habitan espontáneamente la misma palabra. Por eso no soy un artista en la corriente, porque no ejercito un arte bella ni vivo en la superficie.

Como artesano pintor aspirante a encarnado, me gustan las ciencias y las matemáticas: por eso mi número favorito es el dispar. Cada amanecer, en mi cuerpo aparecen estigmas en forma de madrigales: por eso escribo con letra transparente. Y tuve por compañeros de infancia a quienes se sumergieron en su aventura singular: por eso mi color favorito es el caleidoscopio.

Los científicos, pensadores, poetas y pintores que frecuento, son incapaces de influenciarme: semejantes todos en la diversidad, es decir en la actitud para vivir, se sumergieron en el camino que sólo a cada uno de ellos correspondía y que nadie más podría transitar. Fueron acusados con alguno de los mejores elogios: narcisistas, manieristas, extravagantes, perversos, individualistas, ajenos a las preocupaciones contemporáneas. Ramon Llull, Michael Maier, Adolf Wölfli, Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Drieu La Rochelle, Robert Walser, Lascano Tegui, Fernando Arrabal.

Las obras que más me interesan nacieron de espíritus libres amantes del juego y no suelen ser muy reproducidas o citadas: por ejemplo The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, aquel pequeño cuadro que Richard Dadd pinta luego de un viaje a Oriente y de asesinar a su padre; por ejemplo el Palais idéal, la extraordinaria obra arquitectónica que el cartero Ferdinand Cheval construyó juntando piedras en su diario itinerario de décadas. Obras de pacientes artesanos jugando inocentes a una alquimia profana.

Se comprende, entonces, que el arte encarnado sólo pueda ser visto con la superficie del globo ocular, sin “interpretaciones” (o “lecturas”, como las llaman groseramente hoy día).

Quien comprenda no podrá explicar. Quien pretenda explicar es porque no comprende.

El humor, en todas las acepciones de la palabra, que circula en la carne de este discurso.

Gustavo Charif.

Mes X del año XXXV.

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