jueves, 13 de enero de 2022

Inner/Outer Exile in Venezuelan Art

Magdalena Fernández (1964) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Caracas, focusing on nature, phenomenological experience, and art history, in abstraction. She is one of the few artists who has continued to elaborate the modernist abstract tradition of both Venezuela and Latin America. Fernández’s experience of exile pertains to the nature of her art beyond the political situation in Venezuela. For Fernández, abstraction goes beyond the “failure of modernity”; nevertheless, she feels demonized because her work, by centering on geometric abstraction, is seen as the very embodiment of the collapse of the modern, or a denial of this failure. She explains: “Since my beginnings, the global narratives that seem to revolve around art have always made me feel on the edge, if not outside, of the artistic context. It seems that what ‘the other’ expects is never ‘one’sown’; and each act seems like a battle to keep myself in a place: ‘my place.’13 Fernández’s work dialogues with artists such as Venezuelan kinetic pioneer Jesús Soto, Gego, or the Neo-concrete work of Hélio Oiticica; and with natural phenomena such as the rain, light, and the sound of tropical birds. Nevertheless, in recent years the social reality has started to percolate into her series Instalaciones corporales (Mares), (Corporal installations [seas]) (Fig. 2). and her Pinturas Móviles corporales (Corporal mobile paintings) In kinetic art, the spectator usually activates the work by moving in space; in these works, movement is born from within the body itself. Mares brought together young dancers to create movements that emulated the motion of waves and the breathing of the sea, thus generating a metaphor of collaboration, social unity, and beauty in the country that was unconceivable. Fernández’s recent works introduce the social fabric in crisis as the catalyst of movement, they counter the contradictorily static and demonized history of modern kinetic art, to activate it socially in the present as both abstraction and engagement with reality in a form of restorative justice.

13 Own translation. Magdalena Fernández, written exchanges with the artist, April 29, 2021.

Fig. 2. Magdalena Fernández. Pinturas Móviles corporales (Corporal mobile paintings), n.d.

Cecilia Fajardo-Hill

Extracto del artículo publicado en Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas, Issue 103, Vol. 54, No. 2, 2021, 194–205.