Although in the last few years Armando Mariño has turned to other topics and interests, his most characteristic work – that which made him known and admired – focused almost exclusively on the stressful relationship between western and non-western cultures, between the “civilized" and the “wild" or the "centre" and the "periphery".
This work by Armando Mariño was inspired by the famous etching by Francisco de Goya, The Dream of Reason Begets Monsters 1799, from his series Caprices. In this case, the dream that torments the black painter (whose appearance is, nevertheless, quite gentle) is the product of western reasoning that has been disseminated on a global scale by means of colonial destruction and ignorance or by discrediting the rationality of the many cultures of the world. These products of western reason are represented here by the magnificent building of El Escorial (Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial), built in 1563 for the king of Spain, Felipe II, whose valuable timber was extracted from Cuban forests. There are also portraits of George Washington, Carlos V, Matisse, Duchamp, and some fragments of famous works, such as Munch’s The Scream and a martyred saint by Zurbarán. Again we see one of Armando Mariño's fundamental concerns: whether to accept or reject those forms of culture, rationality and aesthetic sensibility of the west which are often incompatible with those of other cultures or, as in this case, conflict with those of the black artist sitting beside the painting and holding his palette. As the artist explained to me in a letter: “The monsters of the peripheral artist are no other than those built and structured by the western cultural world, a constant nightmare of reference for the cultivated "other".
The fact that this is reflected in all of Armando Mariño's work is curious since on the one hand, his painting has a high formal quality, particularly in the realism of his representation of figures and atmospheres, and the academic skill with which he handles colours, light, shade and perspective, but at the same time as assuming that legacy, he demonstrates that this legacy may be transformed or even denied by challenging its contents, making us see that having received such learning is not so important after all. It is simply another tool and a way to express that identical means can and should be used to produce different messages.