Landscape and Abstraction in the work of 7 contemporary artists from Venezuela:
Magdalena Fernández, Pepe López, Angel Marcano, Daniel Medina,
Luis Molina-Pantin, Enrique Moreno, and Luis Romero
Curated by Ruth Auerbach and Aixa Sanchez
Exhibition: 9th May to 14th June 2008
Consciously or unconsciously, painting in Venezuela in the twenty-first century has followed the concentration on representations of landscape and abstraction in the twentieth. But artists there now are challenging this legacy. A few indeed are simply rejecting it, not least because of what they see as the wider cultural, social and political failures of the modernist project. Others are recasting modernism’s supposed certainties as images. For these artists, landscape painting and abstraction remain at the centre, but this centre and its established materials and techniques are being turned against themselves. In this exhibition, we present three ways in which the Double Perspective, this disposition to reject the legacy and assimilate it, criticise it and reconstruct it, is being explored and developed. The first of these is in a ‘deconstruction’ of the notion of landscape; the second in a reformulation of the rational and the geometric; the third in a wider, ironic, playful, even nonchalant conversation with representations of landscape and abstraction that reveals the contradictions in making art today in Venezuela.
Magdalena Fernandez and Pepe López both reflect and dismantle the precepts and traditions of geometric abstraction through sculpture, video and adhesive tape construction in Lopez’s case. Similarly, Daniel Medina’s three-dimensional structures use ordinary materials, such as rulers and ice-cream sticks, to playfully question and dissect the geometric-abstract tradition. The photographic series New Landscapes by Luis Molina-Pantin take discarded objects found in kitsch culture such as a lamp or air freshener, and displace their readymade aesthetic into packaged visions of extreme nationalisms and identities. Further landscape deconstruction comes in the recent work of Luis Romero, who draws on the urban deployment of billboards and advertisements throughout Caracas that, over time, have become nostalgic symbols of modernity in the city. By using an unconventional material like wire, Angel Marcano transgresses the bi-dimensionality of the brush or pencil mark to create line sculptures that advance towards more essential, abstract and brutal forms. Perhaps in parallel to his work, Enrique Moreno explores the dismembered structure through the combination of mechanics and fine art. His mobile structures resolve into a surprising assemblage of vulgar and precariousmaterials: wires, motors, bolts and discarded objects, with which he revindicates the practice of drawing, sculpture and even music, from a procedural dynamic loaded with a good portion of humour and improvisation.