Painting is often criticized for its inability to be polemical, at least not as other “pugnacious” media are able to be. But “doing” political art in such a way that its statement does not appear superficial is a task facing contemporary art per se, and not only painting itself. Stano Bubán, recognizing the potential of figurative painting to address this, decided that his paintings will not be closed to the problems of society. He engages these problems in a “quiet” project, Repentance (2010). Here, he chooses the symbolism of men in suits to evoke strength and power. However, in a gesture of repentance, kneeling with head down, these men do not appear here as confident, macho masters of the world who purvey the only truth. But neither do they bow in a humiliated way. Their penance is rather their powerless confession….. But, of what? Failure? Lies? Pride? One might see in their behaviour the echo of the current economic crisis, or just of men whose strength has deserted them. And the main point of these paintings is indeed here, that they engage, but quietly, in the silence of bowing heads. The large scale of the paper on which Repentance is “painted over” highlights the newly acquired fragility of Bubán’s painting. It is as if the brush only lightly touches the surface, so as best to convey the vulnerability “of strong men”. This new quality in Bubán’s technique is closer to light sketch painting and appears to be a move away from the necessary pedantry of the old masters. This distancing, however, is only an apparent one. If not for these historical lessons, Bubán would never have been able to capture with a few strokes the moment in which his rendering suddenly contains “everything”.
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