Milton Becerra: “Wale’kerü. Líneas de luz”
Milton Becerra, time traveler and explorer of vast territories, interweaves in his art forms derived from spatial-temporal sources which, being as diverse as they are distant, converge in a same revelation: they reflect the prodigious fabric of the universe. Thus, he bridges the gap between America’s past and the discoveries of quantic physic theories, and the first tools of prehistoric times and his geometric abstract contemporary sculptures.
If for someone like Jesús Soto, abstraction had to be “pure structure”, and seeking that purity, he brought form closer to music, Becerra takes another path: without denying the representation of the world, he seeks to reflect in his work a representational system that recalls the sense of play that animates creation, and the inaudible music contained in the interrelation of all elements.
Milton Becerra is of indigenous descent and he has completed a long journey that culminates in the works that make up the exhibition “Wale’kerü. Líneas de luz”, at Art Nouveau. In these pieces, geometric forms – regular or irregular – function as supports for ludic looms. The tautened color threads create superimposed warps that allow an infinite perceptive variation, depending on the intensity of the light that falls upon them, on the angle that lights them up, as well as on the gaze of the spectator and his/her position in movement.
In relation to the loom, we know that countless peoples have used warps with lukewarm threads to achieve the tension required to weave those fabrics that served to create clothes, as well as to produce sacred canvases on which they drew the myths associated with their origin or the stories about their journeys. Milton Becerra builds his contemporary sculptures as unique looms, with a free play of combinations and irradiations between the color and the shape of the frame, and between those of the threads that function as superimposed wefts and project before our eyes in movement kaleidoscopes of amazing geometries.
His creative thought was therefore initially molded by the contemplation of the river rocks on which the Pre-Columbian peoples inscribed the geometric forms of their myths, and by the oral traditions that record them. He grew up in Las Delicias, a town on the banks of the Táchira River, in Northwestern Venezuela, listening to the language of the water on the stones, but his memory only recovered them when he arrived in Paris to live there in the 1980s and began to use them as an alphabet to build his own universe, with an awareness that returned him to the origin, to the knowledge that everything is written on the stones that do not only lie on the river beds but also float in the course of the heavens.
The mythic Wale’kerü spider that appears in the title of this exhibition taught the art of weaving to the Wayúu people, the native inhabitants of a territory that stretches along the border between Colombia and Venezuela, and Milton Becerra, with his abyssal curiosity, resumes its spinning and links it to the understanding that the entire universe is a fabric of luminous cords that vibrate in a way that manifests itself in diverse material forms. For this reason, in his structures there is an echo of those models of quantic physics that seek to harmonize the laws that rule the macrocosm – the movement of the stars, planets and galaxies – and the occurrences in the microcosm, which is equally infinite, in the interior of the smallest particles in creation.
It was in the City of Light, which is currently one of the places where he lives, that he first combined rocks and cords in an installation he exhibited at the entrance of the 11th Paris Biennial, as an invocation to nature, the primordial source which also gives rise to the nests and labyrinths in his work, always tautened or structured with threads.
The Renaisssance is also included among the hypertextual allusions that may be found in the pieces exhibited in Wale’kerü. Líneas de luz. It has received the legacy of the mathematician and artist Paolo Uccello, who as Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) narrates, was obsessed with the vanishing point and sought perfection in perspective, not to narrate stories, like his contemporaries did, but to represent the maximum dimension of depth. Even more than the famous mosaic by Ucello on the floor of Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, and in which the hexagonal prisms crossed by a cord suggest the three-dimensional through perspective and colors, what interests Becerra is the mazzocchio that Ucello painted many times and Leonardo drew: “In that first modular spatial structure —reassures—, forms are repeated in such a way that it creates the maximum possible number of edges.” Repetition, depth, and the sum of edges projected ad infinitum and highlighted by color alternation – light, dark, like a chess board – are key aspects in his works. It must be recalled that the mazzocchio was incorporated in a type of Renaissance fabric –intarsia– and of works in wood in which colors function as linked pieces but are independent, as a kind of jigsaw puzzle.
Of course, it is also unavoidable to perceive in his compositions the knowledge of the formal findings of kineticism, and over all, of the inquiries into the nature of color radiated into space. But challenging the guiding principle of the great kinetic masters who sought to avoid all figurative references to the existing world, Milton Becerra’s installations and sculptures contain the apparent paradox of representing that which is invisible to our eyes: they reflect those behaviors of matter that we do not see because they occur at visual scales that escape our perception, but that are equivalent, however, to a sort of cordage of the universe. In fact, the suggestive power of his vision artifacts – because in this aspect he coincides with Marcel Duchamp’s explorations – resides in that it appeals to the unconscious memory of humankind in a way that evokes the shapes of archetypal geometric patterns or those of universal tools such as the looms that date back to the Neolithic, but also the Renaissance plays with perspective and color and the models postulated in theoretical physics such as the theory of supercords.
Actually, representation is in this case a multi-dimensional way of “painting” the fabric of the universe: instead of drawing lines on the plane, it tempers cords in space, evoking super-symmetry models and inducing in the spectator the experience of perceiving that forms are also vibrational states, radiations of energy. For this reason, in these three-dimensional works by Milton Becerra there are not only traces of techniques and myths associated to the memory of the millenary and juxtaposed looms, or incorporated lessons that contain the figures with which Ucello approached the grid of reality and the legacy of figures like Cruz-Diez or Soto; or of the models of the very echo of Quantic Physics: His works open up kinds of multidimensional geometric passages. The artist deposits in them a myriad of references, but above all the possibility of disseminating the energy they concentrate in the surrounding space through the changing shadows and the radiations of colors in ceaseless transformation over the course of the day.
“Weaving – he assures – is not a simple thing. The color threads, tautened to the maximum tension in these small contemporary sculptures, artifacts where visions are woven, produce vibrations wherever they may be.”
We are faced with multidimensional geometric works which, installed in a specific place, refer us to the world’s architecture, but also to the inner space. They function as transcendent objects: they connect us with the vision of a unity that is beyond the works themselves and that refer, if you will ̶ to put it in a Platonic way ̶ to the form of all forms.
Each space-time is transformed under the action of what the mythic Wale’kerü taught: to imitate the fabric of the universe using threads of light. Imbued with a powerful playfulness – which invites to engage in a visual play and even incites the sense of touch – from each of his sculptures there finally emerges a mode of contemplation that is very similar to the amazement out of which philosophy is born, and taking advantage of the traces of art history ranging from Pre-Columbian to Renaissance art and from Geometric Abstraction to color field research, radiate an energy that is as changing as it is ludic. One must view them immersed in the play of lights and movements that surrounds them in order to listen to the inaudible sounds they contain, the celebration of the ceaseless birth of the forms they produce. What they ultimately reveal to us is synthesized in their statement: “Form exists because there’s a spirit.”
Adriana Herrera Téllez, Ph.D.