Rafael Barrios – virtual juggle

Magical Dimensions

By: Adrian Barros

To enter Rafael Barrios’ atelier is like penetrating a surreal world where everyday objects lose their shape, and some even their existence, and turn into something else made with the same materials but with a different destiny. It is as if Barrios’ hand transforms objects not only in their shape but also in their essence. The work of Rafael Barrios seems to contemplate the world and see it move like if it were a living being. When you look at the sculpture and then move, you will see the work move in the opposite direction since it is concave and convex. That’s what creates the sensation that “seeing is not believing”. This generates a mental game, an interrelationship that makes the observer into a different universe dominated by the unfathomable. Even a glimpse at one of his works will produce a certain uneasiness, “a slight vertigo” because when you try to decipher it you are mobilizing your neurons in a different way, searching for what the new shapes produce in your mind, inevitably moving your intellect or as Barrios’ describes it “neuro calistenics”. Long into our conversation I finally confirmed the suspicion that haunted me since I first entered the studio: there are many things in here but none by chance. In this apparent chaos, everything has a place, but not just a physical place; it is as if everything has a goal, a motivation, a reason to be here. As he talks, Barrios moves around his works, photos, books, nicknacks – some picked up in the streets -, tables covered with mountains of papers, drawings, ladders, stools, and a myriad of other things that could not “play” anywhere else. And I use the word “play” because one cannot avoid having fun in Rafael Barrios’ studio. It is like an amusement park for the senses. And to increase these particular – lets say spiritual – characteristics of his work, Barrios moves and plays continuously with colors, shapes and textures. In this kind of intellectual amusement park you can see shiny works in vivid colors hanging from tree branches or, a bit farther in the bushes, an object in an intense blue or purple catches your eye. When did you start the road on the world of art and who has been most influential in the development of Rafael Barrios? “ I’ve always been more interested in what I perceive from an object rather than what I simply see. If I see a cardboard box from a distance, I am constructing it in my mind since I’m only seeing three sides of the box. In other words, If I take away the three sides that I don’t see, I’m just assuming it is a box but I’m not seeing it my mind is constructing the other 3 sides. I have been surrounded by art and artists since my early childhood. I was close to relevant artists like Alejandro Otero, Mercedes Pardo, Angel Hurtado, Sonia Sanoja, Gego, dancers, poets, because of my mother close friendship with them, besides that, I grew up and lived in Venezuela a country of great artists like Soto, Cruz-Diez, and Rafael Martinez. These experiences have had a huge influence in the fact that I prefer art without symbolic connotations in terms of the figurative, even though I like to paint and draw. When I was about 12 years, I worked in an auto repair shop; washed the parts and pieces and my only retribution’s was to see how everything worked… I was fascinated with that. I’ve always been curious about how things function, also worked as a carpenter, electrician and blacksmith. When I was 14, my mother realized that I was drawing the parts and enrolled me in the School of The Fine Arts Museum (Escuela del Museo de Bellas Artes) in Caracas, which had been opened in the back of this museum where the Venezuelan National Art Gallery is now. On Saturdays, masters like Alejandro Otero and Mercedes Pardo taught there. Those were the times when Caracas was speedily growing: the highways emerged, the “Pulpo” and all those wide highway avenues, bridges that seem to weave around the buildings which often surpassed in height. I was absolutely fascinated with all that… in awe of being able to stand somewhere that was taller than a building. I was so captivated by that incredible concrete weave that, at 15, I painted a huge canvas that won the National Youth Painting Award (Premio Nacional Juvenil de Pintura) in the 60’s. That award was the final turn of the helm that definitively steered my life towards art, and so I continued growing. I painted so much that many times I’d fell asleep on my canvases. “What really matters is learning, going forth through every phase of my work, even when making mistakes or being wrong, making nice and bad drawings, allowing yourself a process of development, being well aware because, between these lines, the road you want to take is written. When did the transition to the three dimensions took place in your work? Paintings are wonderful windows through which you may open an immense universe. But to me with sculpture, there is a physical confrontation, a presence. That’s what most impressed me while at art school, so much that I discarded the canvases in 1973 and wanted to paint on glass or anything transparent because I wished the direction of my evocation to be unidirectional, “towards the viewer”. The works of Rafael Barrios are objects in space adapted to the human beings. He proposes a game in relation to the dimensions and shapes of things. “What I do is synthesize the shapes around us and reshape them so they can be experimented in a different way… If you look closely, you can see that the most used shape in Architecture is the cube: buildings, boxes… and most of what we do is cubic and unidirectional the right angled, we read from left to right, top to bottom, when in reality our minds are organic and thinks in a space that has nothing to do with the gravity. That’s why I say that gravity is not indelibly in the mind, since we are capable of dreaming in a spatial way, but live in a world that is subject to this constant pull. Not necessarily our minds should be”. Do you play with the observer? Yes, I am also one!. I’m interested in shaking the observer perception to do this. All men are made the same way, same sensations, same fears… 

Francisco Bellorin – Geometrical Contrast

Different countries have embraced Francisco Bellorín’s enthusiasm, talent, perseverance, and his need to learn and to know the secrets of painting and graphic arts. He was born in a small town in Venezuela, and after a long voyage through Europe, contrasting the province town where he had been born, he decided to definitely reside in the second main city of Venezuela: Maracaibo, a center of arts and oil production. During a first period, Caracas, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Morocco, Brussels, Mexico and Denmark defined important educational and professional stages to him. A long journey and sure steps towards mastering the mysteries of arts and inventiveness plus the learning of artistic techniques led him throughout a coherent line on his conceptual proposal, yet a changing one regarding his formal creation, as shown by this exhibition named Geometrical Contrast (Contraste Geométrico).

Colors in Geometry

Our Summer exhibition
Omar Carreño
Francisco Hung
Julio Le Parc
Jesus Rafael Soto
Victor Vasarely
Lolo Soldevilla
Sandu Darier
Carlos Cruz-Diez
Hector Ramirez
Lia Bermudez
Joao Galvao
Dario Perez-Flores

 

 

Roberto Lombana – Light and movement

ROBERTO LOMBANA | Light and movement

Roberto Lombana (Bogotá 1977) presents a new body of experimental large-format pieces that function as a poetic documentation of the passage of time, using a combination of long exposure, straight photography and the body in motion. The subjects or protagonists that make these explosive large-format black and white photographs possible are dancers from the London Royal Ballet during their rehearsals at the Teatro Colon in Bogotá. The opportunity to photograph them immediately became the vehicle of his experiments in movement, by focusing on the study of time in photography. Photography is in essence, the process of drawing through the use of light, the visual representation of a spatial-temporal fraction on a stable emulsified surface. Lombana uses this strategy to produce a complete body of work where the poetics and theatricality of corporal movement, as well as the technicalities of photography are intimately intertwined.

Lombana began his career in the arts in engraving and the meticulous and layered work it entails, although he has been involved with photography since early childhood. He began using photography as a tool for projecting images on a surface which he then painted. Progressively, he left painting behind to focus on direct photography and the architecture of space and its relation with the body in particular. As many photographers and artists such as Muybridge and Lartigue before him, the possibility of congealing movement through photography is an attractive oxymoron that opens many doors to explore possibilities. There is an experimental character to Lombana’s oeuvre resulting from the uncertain and unexpected outcome of every click and its relation to the duration of the exposure and the shutter speed, enabling him to use a very technical aspect of photography as a tool for trial and error. The final images reflect Lombana’s keen awareness of the ambiguity and versatility of photography as a medium for capturing and constructing realities based on his desire to challenge our notion of contemporary life.

In his previous body of work, Mandalas, Lombana also confronted spatial concerns and landmarks to produce re-constructed, digitally photographed urban or symbols like in a dream, representing possibly the viewer´s search for completeness and self-unity that would speak from a totally different visual perspective. Then, he was interested in how we imbue the spaces that surround us with sacredness by means of repetition, through the kaleidoscopic effect of a fisheye lens. In these elaborate constructions, he was able to produce a sense of stillness from something as dynamic as a city or a landmark.

On the other hand, with Light and Movement he prefers to play with time through the use of the straightforward tripod, long-exposure shot, without further digital intervention, combining the darkness of the scenario with the skilled movement of dancers. Above all, Lombana is interested in the possibility of controlling and freezing movement, of capturing the moments right before and after a dancer arrives at a pose through a contemplative narrative between the moving body and its capture of motion through radiance – light energy – on a sensitive surface. Lombana, inspired by the precepts of the Kinetic art movement, in which the eye is forced to move and construct colors and movement in complicity with the artwork, realizes that the slow shutter speed determines the intent to capture movement and, simultaneously, freeze its trace. He rationalizes abstraction and the kinetic by freezing motion in time.

Lombana´s strategy is to control exposure, to manipulate the shot and not the final image, to grasp the poetic gestures of a dancer´s body. Most importantly, however, his main interest is to engage the spectator by producing images that stimulate motion in the eye, hence the brain, inviting it to travel tirelessly through the image in the search of possible connections.

Amalia Caputo

Ventoso – Viseceral Geometry

VENTOSO Visceral Geometry

The Ventoso collective, comprised of Abel, Héctor and Jorge, exhibits in this its second solo show at the gallery, a collection of reliefs and sculptures that synthetize what their work has been during the decade they have collaborated as a team. Abel, an architect, along with Héctor and Jorge, engineers by profession, artists by vocation, think of every piece they work on as a challenge, developing tri dimensional dynamic reliefs that have become, over time, more and more sculptural. Visceral Geometry comprises fifteen unique piece, in which every work deals with pattern manipulations, shapes and materials that explore their interest in optics and geometry, as well as issues of expressive forces, imaginary cities, urbanism and future spaces.

The work of Ventoso is rooted in a long tradition of Geometric Abstraction, influenced by the movement that began in the 1940s, a period of economic growth in Latin America, and led by artists such as JoaquínTorres García, Carmelo Arden Quinn and Roth Rothfuss, along with Gyula Kosice, Raúl Lozza and Ennio Iommi, who coined the pivotal ideas and induced the path towards an important tradition in the continent that remains alive today.

Ventoso’s fundamental strategy is to generate unique works that, departing from canons and repetitive shapes, generate the illusion of movement. Equilibrium, light, dynamism, strength, volume, the experience of color, empty and full, duality, and the encounter between opposites, as well as the dialectics of space and visual experience, are just some of the issues that they deal with to explore the idea of movement. Their impeccable pieces suggest transfigurations of the geometric plane by employing traditional shapes such as triangles, circles and squares, that have been manipulated, enlarged or deformed along the surfaces repeatedly in order to create an atmosphere of movement and distortion. Another element that is relevant in their work is light, as every negative space between shapes and forms contains and reflects, thereby making the use of shadows, a most outstanding collaborator to shapes and color, a fundamental component of their oeuvre.

The works by Ventoso intend to solve visual strategies that deal not only with spatial or assembly concerns, but also with the experience that every piece carries within. Each work is a sensible craft that questions the use of certain materials, seeking to produce a stimulating dialog with the viewers, who complete the work with their gaze.

Their process does not differ greatly from that of the scientific method, in which after an initial idea is formed, a hypothesis is built, and every work derives from the complexity of solving this hypothesis in the shape of a piece of art. Curiously enough, aside from all exact and rigid geometry, every work made by this collective is generated quite spontaneously, so no previous drawings or models exist. Each member introduces an idea and they proceed to work directly with the materials. It is also relevant to acknowledge that all their work is hand-made, with traditional woodworking instruments, such as compass saws, pantographs, wicks, and of course, their manual labor and assembly work; no digital or computerized processes are ever used.

The materials used, High Density Polymers, also represent an alternative to the use of traditional, “noble,” art materials such as wood, stone and metal. Their thermo plastic materials are quite contemporary and versatile, highly durable, resistant to humidity and degradation in addition to being lightweight, allowing them to build larger objects free from weight concerns and durability. Moreover, through the use of polymers, the trio reinforces the concept of abstraction as a purely human invention, just like the early abstractionists envisioned it.

For Ventoso, art is a daring game between randomness and chaos, predetermination and the unexpected, trial and error. Their work as a collective is lived as a permanent and consistent dialogue of ideas, of challenges that each member brings to table in order to solve, according to certain rules, frames, modulations and twists that result every time in a new and unexpected solution that translates into a work of art. Within the absolute geometric pieces, Ventoso posits every work of art as a possibility, an opportunity to generate a certain degree of chaos, to disrupt the conventional order of things and produce something beautifully unexpected and visceral in every piece, as a matter of chance.

Amalia Caputo.

 

 

João Carlos Galvão – Reflections

João Carlos Galvão
Reflections.

From Reason to Intuition.

In Reflections, his first solo show in the United States, the Brazilian artist João Carlos Galvão, (Rio de Janeiro, 1941) is presenting a selection of 13 small and medium format assemblages/reliefs from his most recent production. Galvão boasts a long trajectory of more than forty years exhibiting his artwork. He began to study painting in 1951 and lived in Paris in the late 1960s. Since 2004, he has been a member of the International Madi Movement (Movement, Abstraction, Dimension, Invention), created in Argentina in 1946 by the Argentine-Hungarian Gyula Kosice, along with the Uruguayans Carmelo Arden Quinn, and Rhod Rothfuss. Galvão was included as a Madi artist, as his work follows the ideas of invention, limitless artistic creation and the search of new methods of art research that the group adheres to. The artist has a long trajectory of exhibitions in Brazil, France and England. He participated in the 9th Sao Paulo Biennial in 1967 and he is one of the most important artistic voices within Brazil’s constructive geometric abstraction.  

The exhibition gathers a series of Assemblages, works composed of Brazilian hardwood blocks, natural or painted in oil – some of them cut along one side in a perfect 90۔۔degree angle, on the other side in curved or circular shapes – and that grouped on the pictorial plane, compose a sort of rhythmic suite. Galvão assigns to wood a leading role in his work; he allows it, with its nobility and history of its own, to participate with its grains in the intervention in the geometric rhythms he engages in each composition, thus establishing a sensitive relationship with the process of alignment of each piece.

Interested in Op Art and Kinetic Art from a very young age, Galvão produces a constructive, mathematical and clean work with volumes, which hold a dialogue on the plane thanks to the environmental and the reflected light. Another of the elements that has an active participation in his compositions is, precisely, light. The volumes appear affixed onto the planar surface on one of their sides, in such a way that the remaining faces reflect and refract light, creating a play of shadows as well as negative and positive spaces. The spectator connects with the work through the play of shadows that change depending on the light, and that are determined by the edges, shapes and interplays produced by the light. Inspired by artists like Camargo and Vasarely, with whom he worked and studied while in Paris, Galvão inclines towards rhythm, perception, alignment and the internal logic of the formal structure to create these compositional stripes, which are spaces determined by accumulations: his assemblages. Although he utilizes color in some of his pieces – on some occasions, the artist paints the assemblages in one, two or three flat colors, generally reds, whites and cobalt blue –, Galvão resorts above all to volumes and to structure on the plane, playing with the compositional elements, breaking down at times the rigorousness of the square or the rectangle, with elements that protrude from the pictorial plane and generate a feeling of movement. “I try to create structures or to structure a theme,” he declared.

His work adopts all the characteristic premises of constructivism, namely, abstraction, repetition and the use of a system that in spite of being formed by structures that are considerably regular, possess a rich visual vocabulary, in which the compositional sobriety and the playfulness of the shapes speak to the essence of what the human being is: the permanent contrast between opposites, the rational and the intuitive, the natural and the constructed, the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

Galvão points out: “Even so, my work is rigorously constructed on the basis of pure intuition,” and it is precisely this duality between the cerebral element in his mathematical style and the emotional charge in the composition that makes this relation/tension between the human being and nature be present in each assemblage, like an individual microcosm of which he is an essential part.   

Amalia Caputo  

 

Héctor Ramírez – Dynamic Sphere

DYNAMIC SPHERE HÉCTOR RAMÍREZ

The work of the Venezuelan artist Héctor Ramírez (Edo. Monagas, Venezuela, 1955), which straddles Kinetic and Op Art, is based specifically on the optical phenomenon of the virtual construction of volume, and on the perception of movement generated by the human eye as it examines the medium and large-format monochrome works. Besides his interest in physics and mathematics, the study of geometry and the interaction between the human eye and the line, the artist’s work poetically concentrates the energy of creation. Ramírez is concerned with one of the big questions of science – How did everything begin? – and he draws above all on one of the various different theories on the Big Bang, which analyzes the origin of the great explosion based on a sphere of light as the primal generator of everything that happened next. From that first sphere of light, we transport ourselves to another sphere, the material one on which we live: Planet Earth. For Ramírez, both models are imprinted on everything that we are, from the conception of the universe to the composition of the atoms, and it is there that the artist conceptually constructs his artistic practice.

For Dynamic Sphere, Ramírez continues with his process of investigating the sphere, the behavior of light, the line, the reticle, and the phenomenon of optical perception in the viewer. From a young age, his formal concern has been the division of the plane into parallel lines as well as diagonals, in an attempt to create new spaces of perception in the spectator’s gaze. For this exhibition – his second solo show in the United States – he gathers eighteen pieces, each one composed of two Plexiglas planes facing one another and separated by a small distance, which constitutes the same structure on which he bases the bulk of his work. This way, he experiments with the apparent movement produced by the effect of the superimposed lines, offering the viewer a large number of possibilities, drawing thin lines that create a virtual illusion of volume, continuall changing the perception of the work through the viewer’s motion in front of it.

Each one of Ramírez’ works is a carefully planned structure that engages in a unique and intimate interaction with the public, and it is the spectator that constructs with his or her gaze a non-existent volume: the virtual sphere. Besides, this interaction between the eye and the work perceives movement in lines that are actually motionless – what is known as retinal vibration. There is also an organic feedback between the artist’s gaze on the work and vice-versa; in this process, the movement that is perceived would not exist without the eye that observes it. Even though it is the viewer that takes the work to its culmination, several important elements constitute the process of his work. In the first place, the fabric formed by the line, creating non-Euclidean and virtual geometries that generate the sphere, favoring the changing quality of the piece in the eye of the passer-by. The work of perceptive movement that takes place in the brain of the person who is faced with the piece, and the relation with the geometric volumes, especially with the sphere, are fundamental. This apparent movement, the one that takes place in the eye and generates the Moiré effect that brings the works to life through the spectator’s actual movement, has been Ramírez’ most relevant subject since the outset of his career, and it originates in the modification of the straight line: altered, bent, subjected to change in order to create vibration and virtual volume.

The sphere is the second pillar on which Ramírez bases his practice. Starting from a model of two-dimensional elliptical geometry, the sphere is a revolving surface composed of a series of dots in the space that are equidistant from the center. For Ramírez, the sphere – composed of lines – is the chosen primary form on which his entire oeuvre is based; it’s his thematic axis, a physical problem and a spiritual concern.

The last substantial element in the artist’s work would be the light and/or the absence thereof, in Ramírez’ own words: “I do not work in black and white; I work with light – which gathers together all the colors of the prism – or with its absence.” White in itself represents nothingness; black in itself also represents nothingness or the void, but both constantly contrast and interact in his pieces, representing the whole, in such a way that all the colors and all the tones would be included between white and black, the two extremes that encompass everything.

Ramírez’ work therefore embraces not only the geometric studies of forms, the handling of light, but also the important investigation of that which is imperceptible to the human eye and works as the representation of complementary forces, the interdependence and the connection found in the metaphor for the creation of the world as we know it.

Amalia Caputo

ASTRID FITZGERALD: Emergent Symmetries

ASTRID FITZGERALD: EMERGENT SYMMETRIES

 

“For everything in which spirit has objectified itself

contains something that is common to the I and the Thou”.

Wilhem Dilthey

 

“We must trust the perfection of the creation so far as to believe that

whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened

in our minds, the order of things can satisfy.”

Emerson

Among seekers, Swiss-born artist Astrid Fitzgerald belongs to the clan of those in search of “the nature of reality” with the conviction that there is a perfect order behind the chaos of appearances, and that its human understanding is possible. That´s why her artwork reflects a convergence of notions that, coming from different fields, ultimately leads us towards a perception of the unity in everything that exists. Knowing the principles from which her art departs, we can attest to how close geometry is to philosophy, physics to the arts, math to spirituality, and the universe to the human mind – and its capacity to create visual abstractions containing its invisible structure. Her approach to the possibilities of art media forgoes the paradoxical: She uses solid matter, for instance wood as a support, to suggest the immateriality of things (there is an infinite emptiness between atoms) and the illusion of our vision. She is also able to fuse art movements that we though irreconcilable. 

The title of her exhibition at Art Nouveau Gallery “Emergent Symmetries” echoes a term coined by “scientists involved in trying to merge quantum mechanics, relativity and space-time theories,” she explains. “It turns out that the mathematical number Phi (1.618) relating to the Golden Ratio may well prove to be the way to an integration of the various theories”. The philosopher Richard Geldard – her husband – comments: “one thinks of the emergence of forms manifesting from mind, the intuitive patterns from minds connected to and emerging from universal forces.” 

The development of Fitzgerald’s artistic career, which in fact began with textiles (primordial geometric designs served as a matrix for her future abstract paintings, tridimensional works and constructions) embraces the universe´s structure and its order gives cohesion to her life and art. One of her books, titled “Being Consciousness Bliss – A Seeker’s Guide”, 2002, “discusses the current human condition–the “sleep” of ordinary life – and how we may begin to wake up”.

Before discussing the way in which her artwork reunites antithetic artistic movements, it is important to highlight how close she is to thinkers such as Ernst Cassirer, author of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, who looked to the connection among separated bodies of knowledge such as religion, sciences and arts. Also she reminds me of the search of the hermeneutist Wilhem Dilthey and of the idea of a mind science correlated to the imaginative metamorphosis that is present in Fitzgerald´s artworks. Her geometrical abstractions make visible the invisible forces that animated our existence by activating an unusual perceptual process in us. Keeping in mind the quest of those thinkers and the notion of truth according to Hans George Gadamer, we could also find in her works the pleasure of play and “the joy of knowledging” in a way that expands our personal experience of the world. 

Going back to her formation, there was a turning point at the end of the 70’s, when she took a course on sacred geometry at the Metropolitan Museum giving her the structure to find her alphabet of the infinite. If before Astrid used Goethe’s color theory, she now shifts her attention to the Golden Mean (GM) projected in geometric forms. But in the same way in which she seeks a personal experience of spirituality, she makes free use of references and violates the rules of her masters while drawing from their legacy. Mondrian – who was also a spiritual seeker – would not have accepted her use of rich gradations of color, the optical play of superposed triangles and rectangles. The technique of transparencies not only presents the viewer with multiple layers of surface – breaking with the plane representation – but also creates the illusion of converting the solid support into an ephemeral form.

None of the followers of Neoplasticism, De Stijl or the Suprematism movements, that uses the primordial geometric forms to convey a type of representation distant from the objects of the world, would accept the way in which she merges the roots of European geometric abstraction, not only with the vision of Joseph Albers, but also with the material sense of Informalism derived from Antoni Tapies. Her surfaces are a place for the sensuality of the tactile. 

The paradox is also present in the fact that while she seeks to induce a kind of subtle contemplation or even an evocation of the immaterial, there is also a celebration of the concrete surface as well as the existent astronomic or even architectonic references. Alongside her career she has represented the distance between celestial bodies, or ancient buildings that function as ritualistic architectures. In her large constructions the presence of craftsmanship using Birchwood Golden Mean rectangles reminds us, as she affirms, of the legacy of the Shaker movement.

 

Astrid Fitzgerald also worked with the shaped canvas – previously explored in the south of the continent by the Argentinean Rhod Rothfuss and the members of the MADI movement who follow the possibilities of playing with the frame´s rupture. Far from the manifestos of the avant-garde of the XX century, we are facing a time where the dialog with the past is as vast as unlimited in the freedom of enlivening it in what we can call “original” not because it is new but because of its authenticity.

“Emergent Symmetries” includes one of the most powerful artworks of her entire career, Knossos II, an oil on wood, a labyrinth formed by a set of overlapping GM rectangles with gradations from light green to black – a visual journey that challenges the viewer. The masterful use of color creates the illusion of intersections and nonexistent courts and in the center of the building, named for the mythical palace that the architect Daedalus built to imprison the Minotaur, a white cuboid became the magnetic center that connects the piece to infinity contained in a vacuum.

Less complex in its composition, but also capable of inducing an infinite perceptive game, “Paros IV”, is named after that island linked to the history of sacred architecture in ancient Greece, and reflects the way Fitzgerald is linked to the remote source of cultures. The four overlapping GM rectangles form an installation piece, between painting and sculpture. The game created by the gradations from light to deep blues and the lines forming rectangles and irregular triangles causes an incessant mobility in one’s gaze. Depending in where the viewer is standing, there is a constant change in the perception of the planes.

Such mobility, connected to the notion of a changing universe, to the play of possible combinations or positions of the basic structures, is even stronger in “Pithagorio II”, one of the works that invokes the name of the ancient geometer, mathematician and philosopher who discovered the golden ratio. This piece which rejects the notion of frame is constructed from two GM rectangles and irregular cut circles seems to capture the moment of a position that could change at any moment. It is in this imminent movement which hints at the universal where its power lies and ultimately, Astrid Fitzgerald’s aspiration provokes “a state of extreme alertness” that cannot be separated from the purest appreciation of the perceptive instant.

Milton Becerra – “Wale’kerü. Líneas de luz”

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.

Lía Bermúdez

To think about Lía Bermúdez is to think about art. Her secret branches draw a life completely dedicated to two passions: her work and her family. Each thread in her sensitive spirit weaves fabrics of hidden mysteries that decode abstract languages in the sculpture that has kept her busy for various decades. The beloved Lake of Maracaibo and the paths signaled by teachers and friends, among them Jesús Soto, opened the floodgates of arts balancing poles that she embraced in order to give structure to a body of work that has made her a leading character in the history of Venezuelan art and, specially, in the field of contemporary sculpture. Everything has been calculated on the basis of emotion without giving any way to chance but to feeling. The artist has been plotting the subject of works linked to abstract notions in geometry and constructivism. Non-representational images that are nevertheless evocative of the reality of a nature sustained by the splendor of radiant suns, plenitude of energy, nights lightened by full moons, gallant dews, and fireflies that remind us of creative fires. The strength of a work without interruptions, guided by talent and permanent study about art and its theories and practices, have made Lía Bermúdez an artist for whom the creative processes is an act of freedom propitiatory for the invention of forms that conjugate relations with nature and abstractions of thought. She declares herself a constructivist because, in sculpture as in painting, all her work has been signaled by geometry in the accuracy of its lines and of the flat form characterized by the chromatic value of strong yellows, reds, blues, or blacks in relation to the materials used in each case. Lía is motivated by problems and themes that require time-space resolutions that define the three-dimensionality of the artwork in a specific site, be it public or private. For her, the three dimensional artwork is not pure form, it has a soul and a spirit, that becomes concrete in the manner in which they establish communication with the spectator, with the passerby in the street, with the human being that desires that his everyday life be invaded by the warmth of an artwork that communicates the poetry he needs for his daily strolling. Lía has the leading sculptress in Venezuela more determined to address the need to “plant” sculptures in urban spaces. The three-dimensional work of Lía Bermúdez neither corresponds to conventional volumes nor to cinetic transparencies, even though in some cases they are drawings in space as in Juyá Azul (1990), Achuwala (2012), or Isabella virtual (2013). In general, her work is an aerial sculpture, that even if attached to a wall, hung or suspended in air or emerging from a base or from the soil itself, will always be guided by rhythms in different directions: ascending, diagonals, descending, lineal. Life is there. Be it in the spatial verticality of an elegantly black structure, like Akuaippa (2013), or in the poetic horizontality of a winged form bursting with energy and beauty as in Isabela (1989) and Ayaa relámpago (2013). Or also as in the totemic abstraction of the sculptures Y olé (1989) and Achijiráa (2013). As we can see in the works exposed, the subjects and forms that Lía Bermudez has developed in her long journey, reshape themselves in new forms according to the materials used by the artist. A permanent reflection on the interior and the exterior of three-dimensionality and on its own proper and intimate relation to this aspect pertaining to sculpture, has taken her to inedited conclusions at the heart of the same proposal: once you arrive at the essence of geometry subject ceases to exist, and all that remains is the artwork in its completeness and plenitude of spirituality and beauty. Bélgica Rodríguez, A Passion, a Life Lía Bermúdez was born a sculptress (Caracas, 1930) a vocation that she developed all through her years as an art student at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Rojas de Caracas, next to Jesús Soto, Francisco Narváez, and Carlos González Bogen. While other students went for the study of the theory and praxis of painting, she enters directly into the workshop and sculpture classes dictated by Professor Ernesto Maragall; but this does not mean that she will leave out pictorial phases always in the field of abstraction. From here on there will be diverse preoccupations: The behavior of the geometric form in physical space and its contextual phenomenology; research and exploration of many and diverse materials as the search for a style that would reflect reason and emotion. Her marriage to Rafael Bermúdez in 1948 takes her to the city of Maracaibo, Zulia State in the Northwest area of Venezuela. From this moment on she will live with the magic that she experienced as soon as she arrived at this great city with its grandiose lake like a sea. Here she will be born as an artist, and as a teacher at the Zulia State University and as a promoter of multiple activities in the field of the visual arts in this region and all over the country. She founded the Galería Gaudí in Maracaibo, proposes the creation of the Municipal Museum of Graphic Arts of Maracaibo, she was Director of the Zulian Institute of Culture Andrés Eloy Blanco, Secretary of Culture for the Zulia State Government, Director of the Maracaibo Lía Bermúdez Center for the Arts, and is currently preparing a project for the Lake of Maracaibo Ecological Museum. It is a difficult task to review briefly such an extended journey of this Venezuelan artist. One brief notice informs us that since 1954 she has participated in collective exhibitions, especially important is the one held at the Salón D’Empaire in Maracaibo, exhibiting in all of its editions up to the year 1969, a period during which three awards were granted to the artist. Another important exhibition is the one at the renowned Salón Planchart in Caracas. However, her first individual exhibit in painting and sculpture is at the Maracaibo Center for the Arts beginning in 1957, a year in which she also begins her participation in the Yearly Official Salon of Venezuelan Art, at the Museo de Bellas Artes, where she remains until 1969. Since 1982 she has been invited as a special guest at the Bienal Nacional de Escultura of the Museo Francisco Narváez at Porlamar, Nueva Esparta State and to the Bienales Nacionales de Artes Visuales. Towards 1958 she starts to make a body of artwork of a muralistic and public character that she continues until today. Among the works produced we must mention the relief-mural of the Costa Azul Building and the one at the Hotel del Lago in Maracaibo, a concrete and aluminum sculpture for the Paseo de Ciencias, also in Maracaibo, a relief for the Banco Popular and for the Nautical Club of Maracaibo, in addition to the relief for the Baralt Plaza, and for the Building of the School of Architecture at the Zulia State University. In Caracas she creates a sculpture for the interior spaces of the landmark Polar Building at the Plaza Venezuela, others for the façade of the Palacio de Justicia and for the campus of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). She installs an iron hanging sculpture at the Banco Occidental de Descuento (BOD) and one at the Parque del Oeste at the Jacobo Borges Museum. In 1963 she is invited to participate in the first edition of the Salon for Young Sculpture at Galería G, in Caracas. In 1966, at the Salón Arturo Michelena held at the Ateneo in Valencia, she is granted the University of Carabobo Prize for Sculpture and, as a recognition for this award she is invited to do an individual exhibition at the Ateneo in the city of Valencia, where she exhibits La Escultura y sus Posibilidades (Sculpture and its Possibilities) followed by another important exhibition at The Ateneo, in the city of Caracas. In 1973 she is awarded the Julio Morales Lara First Prize for Sculpture at the Salón Michelena. In 1979 she produces an important exhibition for the Art Museum of the Organization of American States (OAS), at Washington D.C. This year her work participates in the collective exhibition called Arte Constructivo Venezolano, 1945-1965, génesis y desarrollo (Venezuelan Constructive Art, 1945-1965, Genesis and Development) held at the Galería de Arte Nacional in Caracas. 1989 marks the date of her great retrospective exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber. After ten years of absence from the exhibition spaces she shows again in an important anthological exhibit at the Sala de Exposiciones of the Banco Provincial, in Caracas. Lía Bermúdez has been recognized and decorated at various times and occasions with the Order of Andrés Bello in its Third Class, Order of Francisco de Miranda in its First Class, she is also an Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Architecture and of the Faculty of Humanities at the Zulia State University, she has been awarded de Ana María Campos Order and the Medal of the Order of Armando Reverón in its Only Class from the Government of the State of Zulia, the Order of Rafael María Baralt in its First Class from the Legislative Assembly of the State of Zulia, the Button of the Zulianidad, she is Doctor Honoris Causa by the Zulia State University, she has been the honored artist at the XIVth Feria Iberoamericana de Arte de Caracas, FIA. The Order of Merit Lía Bermúdez in its Only Class was created in her honor by the Rafael Belloso Chacín University of Maracaibo, and the first artist to be given this honor was renowned Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, in the Plastic Arts Chapter. She has also been awarded the highest Venezuelan honor for the Arts, the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas (National Plastic Arts Prize) (2004-2005), granted by the Ministry of Culture.

Bélgica Rodríguez, Caracas, June 2014