Miguel Machuca likes working in charcoal because it’s like ash—like what his body will one day become. His words, like his work, have a macabre sensibility, but he speaks with a warm smile and an optimistic tone. Of his drawings he says, “They’re poems. You see images. I see words. They tell me their stories and what their titles should be.”
Machuca lives up to the mythos of the artist as a wellspring of impulses, of discrete risks, only partially calculated. In early August of 2018, he will exhibit at the Triton Museum—a show he is working on so constantly and fluidly, it’s as if his ideas live in his body as much as his mind. Circumstances have compelled him to be uniquely aware of the body and its fragility. He relays the details of his father’s death by car accident and his own bout with cancer. Of the diagnosis he says, “Well, I wanted the darkness. Here it is…I embraced it, and I started seeing life positively. My old self died. My old ideas and beliefs died with it…and I started seeing things that I never saw, that I never paid attention to.”
For him, art and life are bound up and indistinguishable from each other. “Art is life itself,” he says, “and life is constantly expanding. It never stops, and if it stops, it’s about to retract and follow its other motion.” Other motion? What he means by this is unclear, which makes it both ominous and attractive.