The politics of painting is the foundation of Pacheco’s practice, making painting the principal medium in which Pacheco’s works are conceived and his primary subject. Despite breaking with traditional modes of depiction and display, thus challenging the sacrality and hierarchy tied to classical painting, many of Pacheco’s works also bear a relation to motives derived from classical painting, campestre, 2021 being no exception.
campestre is inspired by Fra Angelico’s ‘The Beheading of Saints Cosmas and Damian’ (1425–1450). Painted on a wooden panel, the work was conceived as part of the predella of the San Marco altarpiece in Florence and is presently part of the Louvre permanent collection. Devoted to the legend of St Cosmas and Damian, saints known for their altruism and the healing of the poor, the work depicts the twin brothers in their final moments set against one of Fra Angelico’s finest Tuscan landscapes. The two saints wait to join the three headless figures in the foreground. Pacheco’s approach to the painting breaks away from the massacre and instead approaches the subject via the subject of landscape. By choosing to work with soft colors, Pacheco examines how elements such as painterly gesture, color pallet, composition, or fragmentation influence narrative construction and how images are depicted and perceived through time. Depicting the painting as a carried fragment, Pacheco emphasizes the subject of movement, which in this case, serves as a metaphor for the construction and appropriation of subject matter throughout history, challenging thus the linearity of narrative, and the permanence of painting. Pacheco points to painting’s impermanence, where interpretation and a work’s reading are in constant flux and based on an associative chain, where one thing leads to another and where content is created through rhizomatic structures instead of a linear approach to narrative.