Venezuela: A Shining Constant In The Artistic Sky

Contemporary Artists From Venezuela

A Shining Constant In The Artistic Sky (2016) by Contemporary Artists From VenezuelaImago Mundi

A Shining Constantin the Artistic Sky

As a South American and artist I am well aware of the excellent quality of Venezuelan modernism and the importance and influence that it has had on all South American art. Caracas, for my parent’s generation (my mother is also an artist), was an equally important reference point as São Paulo or Buenos Aires. It saw the development of certain avant-garde movements of European origin, such as surrealism, as well as the significant development of that great catch-hall movement, that brings together various approaches and is summarily known as abstract art. This extremely generic term is by now difficult to use, but just after the Second World War, and especially towards the end of the Fifties, it included varied approaches that in Venezuela found a fertile experimental expression. Artists such as Cruz-Díez, Jesús Raphael Soto, Alejandro Otero and others, were the leading lights of an artistic movement that spread in various countries and that made Caracas, at the beginning of the Sixties, one of the capitals of the kinetic avant-garde, which has recently found interest with the international art world (and market). Many young artists, as can be seen in various works produced for Imago Mundi, have felt this influence.

Ani Villanueva - Bubbles, Ani Villanueva, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Ani Villanueva - Bubbles (2016)

Venezuela, a little like Brazil, hasalways produced art that combines polaropposites: the radical release of instinctsand the central role of the imaginationon one side, and the careful planning andprecise formal organisation on the other.These aesthetic approaches are evidently indebted to the great artistic revolutions of the European avantgarde movements of the beginning of the XX century. But I will never stop stressing how the arrival of these movements in Latin America rejuvenated them and filled them with new lifeblood.

Donaldo Barros VeláSquez - And Inadvertently…, Donaldo Barros VeláSquez, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Donaldo Barros VeláSquez - And Inadvertently...(2016)

Arnoldo DíAz - Freedom, Arnoldo DíAz, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Arnoldo DíAz - Freedom (2016)

Yanel SáNchez - Digital Print On Canvas, Yanel Sánchez, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Yanel SáNchez - Digital Print On Canvas (2016)

My city, São Paulo, is an established hub of global contemporary art. Its galleries and museums are quick to present the latest visual creations, even the most radical, from various locations. And even though I had often seen the works of the leading lights of contemporary Venezuelan art, when I went to Caracas and Maracaibo, I was surprised by its variety and the energy that it emanated. The Imago Mundi project provides an excellent overview of the local art production, as it not only focuses on artists that have already reached international recognition, but it also gives space to emerging artists. By not favouring a specific movement a priori, it provides a snapshot of the art of a country in its comprehensive variety. But what struck me was not solely the awareness and talent of the artists, but their willingness to acknowledge the breadth of the long history that preceded them, that not simply start with modernism.

Consuelo Ginnari - Series: Memories, Consuelo Ginnari, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Consuelo Ginnari - Series: Memories (2016)

Carlos Alberto Ayube PóVeda - Composition I, Carlos Alberto Ayube PóVeda, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Carlos Alberto Ayube PóVeda - Composition I (2016)

Venezuela is a country with a rich artistic history that dates back to the pre-Columbian period. The oldest known terracotta is the so-called saladero, with a minimal juxtaposition of red and white sections. Those excavated in the Barrancas area have a stylised decoration on the dges, whilst birds and human or animal heads are usually made with the graffito technique. A further variant is found in the ceramics from the Lake of Valencia area, with funerary urns in different coloured clay, often with parts in relief. There are also numerous female figures in various positions, with large heads and conical trunk bodies, which have been linked to land fertility rituals by archaeologists.

Daniel Sanseviero - Volatile In Blue, Daniel Sanseviero, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Daniel Sanseviero - Volatile In Blue (2016)

RubéN LóPez - Picasso By Himself, RubéN LóPez, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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RubéN LóPez - Picasso By Himself (2016)

During the colonial period Venezuelan art remained strictly linked to Spanish traditions, even though it developed an imagination that is typical of the whole Latin American visual culture of that period: an apparent formal “ingenuity” that, at times, allows for a greater expressive meaningfulness. The term naïf, whenever it is foisted on examples of South American art, is very often out of place.

YarinéS SuáRez Finol - Home, YarinéS SuáRez Finol, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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YarinéS SuáRez Finol - Home (2016)

Graciela Bello - Untitled, Graciela Bello, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Graciela Bello - Untitled (2016)

In the XX century the urban renovation of Caracas and of other cities favoured the birth of an interesting architecture. After feeling the effects of the previous eclecticism, it settled fully in the modernist movement, where rationalism lived side by side with the penchant for surprises, which often produced outstanding results (especially from the urban point of view), thanks to the work of C. R. Villanueva, O. Niemeyer, G. Gasparini, C. Scarpa and other Venezuelans and foreigners. The creations of D. Carbonell at Altamira, and of Gasparini at Macuto, fused modern and traditional elements together, but always with a central functional aspiration. At the beginning of the century, the foundation of the Círculo deellas Artes, which included avant- garde writers, poets and painters, attested that in Venezuela too academicism was being questioned. In 1936 Monsanto set up an artistic training centre based on Bauhaus, which launched some of the most advanced art movements, such as the group of Dissidents, which included, amongst others, Alejandro Otero, Pascual Navarro, Luis Guevara Moreno and Perán Erminy, who accepted taking part in the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche’s Imago Mundi project.

Francisco Bassim - The People Think About Fuenteovejuna, Francisco Bassim, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Francisco Bassim - The People Think About Fuenteovejuna (2016)

Sydia Reyes - Sketch For A Forest, Sydia Reyes, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Sydia Reyes - Sketch For A Forest (2016)

Yldemary Vizcaya - Letters In The Wind, Yldemary Vizcaya, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Yldemary Vizcaya - Letters In The Wind (2016)

Many artists have crossed the Venezuelan borders, between the end of the century and the beginning of the XXI century, and some of them have taken part in the Imago Mundi project, such as Juvenal Ravelo, José Campos Biscardi, Donaldo Barros, Linda Morales, Magdalena Fernández and Arnoldo Díaz. They are part of the shining constant that has rendered Venezuelan modern and contemporary art so attractive.

Alberto FlóRes SoláNo - New Blood, Alberto FlóRes SoláNo, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Alberto FlóRes SoláNo - New Blood (2016)

ÁNgel Mieres - Like My Love, ÁNgel Mieres, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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ÁNgel Mieres - Like My Love (2016)

As is well known Venezuela is currently experiencing a harsh political conflict and its economy is in deep crisis, which is worsened by the drop in the price of oil, which for many decades was the country’s only export and main source of wealth. In Caracas, as well as in other areas, artists lack essential materials such as colours and canvases but, most importantly, there is no flour to make bread and other basic goods. However, the artists don’t give up and are even stimulated by a difficult situation, facing up to it with determination and a constant expressive energy. There are many, prepared and ambitious artists. In Venezuela it was easier than in other countries to find 137 worthy artists, needed for the Imago Mundi project. In terms of concentration of high quality artists, Caracas has few rivals internationally. I was also lucky enough to meet some fantastic people that supported me at every stage of the project and in finding the most interesting artists, of all ages. Now I can count Silvio Mignano as a friend, who placed his artistic knowledge and his residence as Italian Ambassador at my disposal, to host me and receive the artists, in a city where the risk of aggressions and robberies is very high and can begin with a simple journey by taxi from the airport. Raúl Peñalver and Linda Morales, who presented me and introduced me to many of the best artists, as well as running many galleries in Caracas and Maracaibo, which are veritable hubs of Venezuelan cultural life, have also become cherished friends.

Ricardo PéRez Quintero - Titanic Arriving At The Ny Sea Port, Ricardo PéRez Quintero, 2016, From the collection of: Imago Mundi
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Ricardo PéRez Quintero - Titanic Arriving At the Ny Sea Port (2016)

Credits: Story

Art Direction, Photography and Production

Project Management
La Biennale di Malindi Ltd.

Andrea de Carvalho

Project Coordinator
Oriano Mabellini

Barbara Liverotti
Giorgia De Luca

Editorial Coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Andrea de Carvalho
Raúl Felipe Peñalver
Silvio Mignano

Editing and Translation
Emma Cole
Service Scibbolet (Robin Ambrosi, Marianna Matullo, Miguel Ros González)
Camilla Mozzato
Pietro Valdatta
Valentina Granzotto

Art Direction
Daniele Tonon

Marco Zanin (artworks)
Andrea de Carvalho (introductions)

Marco Pavan

Carlos Cruz-Díez - Couleur à l’Espace Pequena c, 2016

Special Thanks
Fondazione Sarenco
Oksana Ignatush
Italian Embassy in Caracas
Silvio Mignano, Italian Ambassador in Venezuela
Althea Arcamone, student of Psychology
Daniel Suárez, sculptor and director of the Centro de Arte
Daniel Suárez, Caracas
Pedro Loguercio, director of the Galería de Arte La Florida, Caracas
Nicola Bianchi, director of the Galería Utopía, Caracas
Consuelo Hernández, director of the
Hernandez Art Gallery, Milan
Lourdes Peñaranda, director of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del Zulia (MACZUL), Maracaibo
Linda Morales, curator
Raúl Felipe Peñalver, curator
Francesca Piazza, counselor of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies
Simona Pinti, Verto Group
Mônica Isnard
Alice Sinnl, student of the Fine Arts Academy
Roberto Rivas Suárez, coordinator of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del Zulia (MACZUL), Maracaibo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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