Working in diverse modes over more than two decades, Christian Capurro has developed a rigorous practice characterised by intricate interrelations between concepts, media and processes.
His series titled Gorgonia (1–7) comprises a suite of delicate, enigmatic works produced from layers of correction fluid applied to imagery. Sometimes taking weeks to create, the individual works result from a very particular crafting of form, involving incremental acts of alteration and erasure. On display, the individual sheets of paper hang loosely pinned to the museum wall, their worked surfaces chalky and often lightly puckered with the dried material, registering the relentless movement of the artist’s hand during their creation.
Each piece comprises ambiguous fields and traceries of lines and veils of correction fluid, applied over the surface of indistinct but discernible found imagery the artist has sourced from magazines. Capurro assiduously builds up layers and marks, and scratches away, alters and ultimately conceals the photographs of people and couplings from glossy lifestyle publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as pornographic magazines. The works appear to faintly retain the underlying photographic traces, although the artist has commented that ‘what you see, doesn’t always reflect what lies beneath’.
Capurro's correction-fluid drawings emerged from an earlier series of ‘grafting’ works on paper, made during 1996–98. For these initial works, Capurro used Sellotape to lift sections of images depicting meat products, found in a junk-mail catalogue, grafting these impressions of flesh onto a page to create corporeal collages: part botanical, part mineral, part animal. The emptied catalogue pages became the impetus for the correction-fluid works, ‘which are additive as opposed to subtractive’; however, both suites contain the suggestion of uncertain, abstracted bodies.
The Gorgonia series references classical mythology: the monstrous Gorgon and the mortifying effect of gazing upon the face of the Medusa. Capurro employs correction fluid as a calcifying medium, a fluid that once deposited forms as a solid. With these pieces, Capurro has made what he refers to as ‘deathly white images’. The ambiguous arrangement of figures and the uncertain iconography of the works suggest intimacies or ‘couplings and grapplings’. The energetic lines and marks of the overdrawing register as molecular clusters, simultaneously suggesting desire and death. As Capurro observes, there’s a ‘tension between the “promise” of an intense or unbounded life (in the underlying commercial imagery) and the compromised fluidity of the petrified “Gorgonia figures” who are literally absorbed into space’.
Rigorous, critical and deeply informed, Capurro’s practice draws on his diverse interests spanning aesthetics, history of art, theory and popular visual culture. He has a long-standing interest in the drawings of idiosyncratic Belgian-born writer and artist Henri Michaux (1899–1984), known for his frenetic and intense drawings, often produced under the influence of hallucinogens such as LSD and mescaline. Organic in form, Michaux’s intriguing, often-calligraphic sketches possess strange kinetic qualities that induce optical effects, his images appearing to simultaneously form and disintegrate before the eyes of the viewer. Michaux referred to them as ‘insatiable desires or knots of force, which [were] destined never to take form, here or elsewhere’.
Similarly fugitive and mysterious, Capurro’s Gorgonia series is animated by the dynamic contradiction between ‘realising an image and taking one away’. An important component of the artist’s continuously experimental practice, this elusive series betrays a fascination with bodies, reproduction and (mis)translation, and has its origins in the memory of photography.Capurro’s subtle and relentless acts of erasure and reproduction invoke the flow and passage of time and the ever-shifting interrelation between the forces of creation and destruction.
Melissa Keys is a writer and curator. She is currently curator at Buxton Contemporary at the University of Melbourne.
 Christian Capurro, in conversation with the author, 7 October 2018.
 Christian Capurro, from the artist’s notes 2004–05.
 Joseph Nechvatal, ‘Further Adventures in Mescaline’, Hyperallergic, 4 June 2014, accessed 12 October 2018, hyperallergic.com/130265/further-adventures-in-mescaline.
 Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art, other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London, 1981, p.515.
 Capurro, in conversation, op. cit.