Artist name

Artist year born


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Artwork material

mixed media

Artwork dimensions

height: 48cm
width: 68cm

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Accession method

Donated by Marcos Curi 1993

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Luis Scafati is an important illustrator of books and newspapers in Argentina, having illustrated editions of Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915) published in its centenary (2015)as well as his version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), which was published in the UK by Bloody Books in 2008. Using Chinese ink, Scafati has covered many political themes in his work including corruption, the role of the Church in society and the dictatorship which is a theme he has returned to on a number of occasions. In 1976, Scafati was studying drawing at the University of Cuyo when, following the coup, Scafati was expelled from the faculty. The artist continued to publish under the pseudonym ‘Fati’ in popular newspapers in Argentina and abroad. ESCALA’s two works by Scafati were done following the return to democracy in Argentina.

The drawing Untitled (1984) by Luis Scafati represents an anonymous crowd of male silhouettes on in the lower-half of the frame. A bigger, taller figure stands in the foreground of the image. The figure is a handcuffed jester pulled by a rope or chains whilst the faceless crowd goes on with their daily life. The artwork, which was made just one year after the Argentine dictatorship came to an end, may allegorically refer to the political transition towards democracy. The jester possibly recalls his symbolic role of being the only character in the royal court allowed to mock others, even the sovereign. The jester to some extent had the privilege of being able to speak the truth veiled in jokes. In Scafati’s drawing the Jester looks melancholic, the handcuffs represent his inability to continue to speak the truth. Even after the return to democracy, the past was not confronted by all of society, here represented as the faceless masses humour, a key feature of many of Scafati’s illustrations, and an attribute of the jester, is missing in this work.

This text was written with contributions from ESCALA’s Object-Based Learning Frontrunner Sebastian Borghi

Text written for the exhbition "Argentina 1976-2016: Activism, Memorialisation and Complicity", 7-10 March 2016, ESCALA Teaching and Research Space

Sebastian Bustamante-Brauning

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