OMAR CARREÑO. " Pariata 1957 "
"Manifest Dialogue between art and science in an ecological context. Art and spaces of the future for peace"
For over 25 years, every early Thursday and Friday, I had the responsibility to teach at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, our most important House of Studies, but, above all, our beloved Ciudad Universitaria, Cultural Heritage of the World. It is impossible, despite the rush, not to contemplate the works of art that progressively integrate its space, allowing us to enjoy one of the most complete open-air museums worldwide.
The architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the genius behind its creation, for which he called the most representative national and foreign artists of the artistic avant-garde of the 50s.
In 1957, Omar Carreño, a native of Margarita, born in 1927, participated and won a competition that allowed him to decorate with his "polychromy"
Premises of the Faculty of Dentistry of the UCV. Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas
That same year, Villanueva, always with the idea of incorporating art into everyday spaces, called him to make with the popular buildings located in "Pariata", area of the Caracas coast, a meeting point between art and urban spaces.
Thus, from the "polychromies"
In this way, the Residential Complex saw the placement of "Pariata", "mobile tower sculpture", named so by curator Ernesto Guevara, a 10-meter high sculpture that was introduced as an "axis or thread" to bring together the daily rhythms of such land of grace. The piece pure dark black color and its cast-iron material made, given the strong environmental factors previously mentioned, the blue of the Caribbean and that of the sky to merge, leading it to emanate a breathtaking contrast that accentuated its majesty.
Delving into the biography and thoughts of Master Carreño, in addition to making us proud for being Venezuelans, like him, leads us to chime into a world that goes beyond the plastic arts to meet the pure sciences, especially physics.
From a very young age in Porlamar, Margarita Island, he stood out for his talent for painting. At school, he used to draw his teachers and the members of the examination boards. He painted his sisters Maritza and Auristela, as well as our independence heroes. His portrait of the "favorite son of the Liberator", the Cumaná-born Antonio José de Sucre, is particularly famous. Likewise, he had the "hobby" of painting the signs and posters of movies shown in the "Cine La Restinga" at the time.
In many occasions, he would go the beach, especially to his favorite place "The Buffoon's Cave" located in Pampatar, to enter his imagination, while he identified one by one the different shades of the moving sea, its blues, its foam, and the mixture of the reefs and the sand.
His father, Daniel Carreño, the best-known goldsmith of the Eastern Region, master of this type of art inherited from his Arab origins, a forward-looking man, sent him to Paris, upon his doctor's recommendation, to treat his recently detected tuberculosis. Once in the sanatorium, he spent his months of convalescence painting; that is why the doctors recommend his that to keep him in the city so he can continue with his art studies, which he does, enrolling him in the best art centers of Europe, including the Superior School of Fine Arts at the Louvre.
Carreño stood out for his drawing skills and creativity. Despite being brilliant for figurative arts, he, however, approaches the trends of the time, which ran against it, and tries to express through his painting more conceptual than contemplative elements.
To this end, he formed in 1950 in the "city of lights, along with painters such as Jesús Soto, Alejandro Otero, Perán Erminy, Alirio Oramas, Pascual Navarro, Mateo Manaure, among others, the group ¨Los Disidentes¨, which, in the words of the latter, sought to "reject everything previously done", leading with this our country to be considered as a pioneer in the encounter with modern art.
In that same year, he exhibited his "transformable reliefs" by the viewer at the "Free Art Workshop of Caracas", with the unique use of a hinge system. These were exhibited two years later at the Arnaud Gallery in Paris and are named by Pierre Descargues, "Polípticos"
In 1953, the author presented his "ideas" in an exhibition entitled "Expressionism, the last "ism" invented in Paris by Omar Carreño", with which he pretended to break with the painting of real dimensions, as well as the interaction of the spectator with the transformation of the piece and the use of new materials.
This is how he became the only Latin American invited by Le Corbusier to participate in the exhibition "The systematics of the arts", at the IX Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne CIAM, in 1928.
This is, by all means, an artist that given his multiplicity of facets and accomplishments, but more so his enormous qualities and virtues, and what it is more important, his great spirit and devotion to the concept of humanity as such, is deserving of a large number of awards.
He was recognized in 1950 with the National Student Prize for Plastic Arts, IX Official Hall; the 1957 People of Bolivar Prize, XVIII Official Hall; the 1958 Quadricentennial Prize, Athenaeum Hall of Valera; the 1959 Venezuela Electric Energy Prize; the 1972 National Plastic Arts Prize; the 1973 Arturo Michelena Award, XXXI Arturo Michelena Hall. In addition to this, his work is included in Art Magazines worldwide, as well as being exhibited in the most prestigious Galleries in Buenos Aires, Paris, United States, Venice, Rome, among others.
The Art Center Omar Carreño was built in his native city of La Asunción, in the Island of Margarita, capital of the Nueva Esparta State, as a tribute to his artistic career.
His love of research and knowledge compelled him to continue studying, even formally. And so, from 1960 to 1963 studied "Art and Museology" in La Sorbonne and the Louvre in Paris. His bond with the heritage is reflected in his studies of "Conservation of Cultural Assets" at UNESCO's ICCROM in Rome in 1965.
However, the most interesting thing about the Master is to understand his reasoning, which is exactly what he longingly sought, when he took a break to write, as he did, of his own hand his "Three Manifestos" related to the plastic art he proposed.
His favorite authors were Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld in Paris; therefore, he kept busy learning about the concept of space and the determination of its limit and expansion (First Manifesto, 1966). Physics perceives space as the true instrument to understand void, such which wishes to fill with color and polychrome constellations. Art becomes science and it becomes at the same time in a way of explaining gravitational phenomena.
He also sought to understand and implement light and its transformation, which he even tried to express through artificial light and micro-engines in his famous "Luminous Boxes" (Second Manifesto, 1967).
All of the above helped him achieve a constant and repetitive movement through the use of new instruments and transparent strips of light refraction. He sought to grant movement to a chromatic game as part of this stage known to be of kinetic art (Third Manifesto, 1970)
It is the openness of art to other fields of knowledge, as well as to math and philosophy, but not for the mere knowledge but to have this engage in a dialogue with sciences, identify the void in space and time, explain the dimensions of nature, and show us the path to gravitation;
The Master spoke to us about the need for art in spatial stations. His approach is absolutely revolutionary. The human being must be surrounded by it, this must be part of its quality of life, we add. He wanted to understand the phenomena and designed "floating sculptures in the night for Caracas". In such a way, the man only by raising his gaze could extend his spirit to the infinity.
Works representative of some of the different trends in which the Master participated.
He went from being influenced by pre-Columbian painting to the "geometric figuration"; he then stayed for a period of time in the "abstract expressionism (limit and expansion of space)" that he created; his love for the sea led him to paint the seabed during his "abstract informalism"
He did all of this with a skill to manage color that led him to create new hues and chromatic expressions in his different pieces. This was only possible for an artist that kept in the retina and the senses, like he did, the orange power of the sunsets in Juan Griego and the pearled white of the moon in Margarita. But, above all, he worked and created new shades of blue which reminded him and evoked the visits of his youth to the seaside; the indigo, the petrol blue, the green, as well as the greys and silvers or sepias that result from the beating of the waves on the shore and the efflux of the sea waves.
We could summarize his manifestos to explain his artistic approach in the following aspects:
· Break with real dimension paintings;
· Nonfigurative pieces, rather geometrical and transformative ones;
· Active participation of the spectator in the transformation of the piece;
· Establishment of research centers to further develop the relation between art and science in the main cities around the world;
· Use of new materials (plastic, sand, pieces of wood, etc)
The work "Pariata" had disappeared from the Venezuelan coast, where it had been placed. The artist had demonstrated with his work that he was a pioneer in the search for movement without engines, and above all, the connection with the wind and light. This because in Pariata, which is located by the sea, the strong and fast wind is a constant.
His dream was always to redo "Pariata" in the public spaces of Caracas; this because his strong commitment with the urban art and its inclusion to space led him to study architecture years later, precisely in our UCV.
Based on all of this, it was no coincidence, rather an absolute necessity, well deserved and fair, that in the framework of the Integral Rehabilitation Project of Plaza Venezuela we included this new piece, which the Master named this time "Pariata 57" in said urban ecologic place.
It was not difficult to retrieve the original plans that had been lost somewhere in the midst of the bureaucracy of the time, because the Master knew by heart its artistic and technical features.
Despite the passing of time, he kept the same materials and technology, thus leaving his relationship with his ideas and efforts from 1957 intact, reason why he added said date to the name of the piece.
With the support of sculptor William Barboza, the steady accompaniment of the engineers and staff of PDVSA La Estancia, and most importantly, under the "in situ" supervision of the Master, who had the piece and layout traced and recreated in his mind, we made a replica in wrought iron from "Pariata". The sculpture was 12-meter high, supported on a reinforced concrete base with anti-seismic features, illuminated with "LED" technology. We had the honor of inaugurating it and give with his presence to the city of Caracas and the country as a whole on April 09th 2011, and it is nowadays part of the Urban Artistic Complex of Plaza Venezuela.
The scale wooden model of "Pariata 57" can be seen at the center of the collage.
The sculpture is of urban scale. It is more than a "mechanical gadget"; it is a propellant of emotions since the contrast of the bright black tones with the clarity of the blue sky generates luminous flashes of purity thanks to the light. Its blades cannot move because the cast iron used for the original piece in Pariata does not correspond to the wind in the Plaza, but the premise was not to alter, just as it is in this type of work, the sculpture, and its original concept. "Pariata 57" is a landmark of the city territory, with a spearhead towards the tomorrow, rendering part of our daily lives.
The Master uses the piece to overlap it in the spaces of Plaza Venezuela and by this link the real and virtual, to grant mobility to a chromatic set in a constant, repetitive and transformative way. He tried to achieve a mutable image in which the spectator participates, identifying the different perspectives of each of its sides and moving parts, to develop new situations and tonalities in the midst of the kinetic action.
"Pariata 57" helps the Master to address his historical cosmic interest, having his humanistic senses to prevail, achieving with this, as his fellow Manifesto peers pointed out when they celebrated the piece in 2009, that this lasts and remains in the hearts of the people, and, most importantly, that the citizen discovers in it the aesthetic of a vision where art and science are connected.
The Master wanted with "Pariata 1957" to pay homage to the future, just like he wanted to do when he imagined the floating clouds on the night skies of Caracas.
We managed, before he left this world on May 11th, 2013, that he traced with "Pariata 57" the path towards the unattainable, the relationship between science and sensitivity, the dialogue between art and physics, what he called "the ideal city" in Plaza Venezuela, to generate every day in the human beings the peace of the future, which is none other than the one catalyzed by the good living created by public spaces.