January 14, 2001

CAROLINA OTERO...HAMLET OF COLOR

By Elizabeth Schön, Venezuelan Poet, Playwright and Essayist

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

Galeria Felix – Caracas, Venezuela

Carolina Otero has exhibited in several cities: Caracas, Maracay, Oslo, Paris, New York, with great success, thanks to her ability to create what I like to describe as a "Hamlet of Color" with her work. This seems to be a fitting description because it is through the reading of her chromatic expanses that I experience an unfettered and expansive visual language that dazzles with a confident color palette, and an assortment of clusters and motifs that are charged with vitality and energetic movement.

 

I also discover unexpected and shared affinities, based on her innovative and creative use of color.

I notice the lively and productive integration of color hues that lie next to each other, without losing impact, even when one form fits inside another. This leads me to contemplate how each scrap of colored paper, stain, tracing, and motif, exists in an interplay that honors the fragmented paper without losing the essence of its parts. It is not unlike what happens to water as it flows into a river, and continues to reach for the furthest depths. In this way, the work encompasses an extensive circular image of homogenous, and bustling, coherent unity; becoming a sparkling reality that is replete with surprises, unexpected remoteness, and darkness.

The collages exhibited at Felix Gallery are reminiscent of a colorful sunset that was contained within the artist, waiting to to be expressed creatively. Through her, colors such as green, purple and blue surface, and are transformed into forms that resonate with the energy and strength of a boulder that might roll ahead swiftly, coming to a halt in the midst of destructive muddy waters. In her vertical collages, I notice black round shapes that seem to slide down, like an avalanche, crashing at the bottom, which begins to deform their essence.

I remember, and I don’t know why (perhaps in the past this wouldn't have escaped me), what Martin Heidegger said: “Language is the house of being.” In this exhibition, the artist's use of color becomes a language that expresses silently what lies within an invisible world. There is a relentless heartbeat that runs through each collage. That inherent pulse generates a dialogue with the viewer; issuing an invitation to discover what links one fragment to another, or to one side of the painting, or to anything else present in the work. 

To build upon what I have said before, I am convinced that Carolina Otero's artistic journey carries within it a sense of confidence about the sense of connection implicit in her work, as well as a confidence about the placement of each element that reveals a skillful dance between life and existence. For these reasons, her work manages to conceive a new reality that is different from anything that surrounds us.

Just as the colors we experience in nature are the result of an internal conjunction that exists within every plant or tree, in Carolina’s painting, the colors she uses express an experiential intensity that is inherent in each of the colors (red, white, and ochre), as well as the creative desire that arises in every true artist. In this way, the formal use of color throughout the exhibition reveals an ambitious pursuit, to try to contain the artist's universal vision of life and existence.

In the beautiful and vibrant collage entitled “Cadencia,” the color hues become quick shapes, free, flexible. They seem to be floating over the reddened surface of the wooden canvas. Peering at them up close gives one the impression that a gale wind might drag them to the side, but because these are plastic shapes, they endure, along with the particular elements, bends and bits that are glued to a piece of paper, coexisting gracefully with various shades and hues of color, thanks to Carolina’s artistic sense. In the same painting, many white gestural marks stand out like bright constellations. A wavelike movement that looks like it wants to run through to the edge of the collage, but it does not follow through, so the image as a whole remains firm and secure. The moving force, though, continues to exert pressure; it wants to hoard what, in the end, is imposed by the process. There is a mobile, invisible force deep within, despite the rigorous and skilled creative spontaneity, which describes, almost unsuspectingly, a dance of endless continuity.

Carolina works in both horizontal and vertical formats. She selected wood as the structural support for her creative life lesson. Acrylic paint, oil pastel and chalk, and pieces of paper are the materials that Carolina uses to create through a masterful mixed media technique that is powerful and agile, evocative and dramatic at times, and even maternal (expressed by means of tonality, motifs and tints), whose presence does not represent the exact figure of a root, a broken tree branch, a rose. On the contrary, she presents her work without graphic explanation. It is through the integration of disparate elements, such as a piece of newsprint depicting a handrail made with small balusters, and a magazine clipping of an open fan that represents happiness, anguish, drama, and waiting, that the artist conveys a unique totality, and a presence that prevails. The work carries within everything that resides deep within the artist, within water and within the earth, as it does within invisible spaces that seem to be limitless and in disarray. Colors like these will never be able to return to what they were before, or become what they would be, if they could be different. They remain in the work, fresh, and intact, as powerful signs that Carolina offers as a way to mark her inexhaustible creative expression, and remain forever alive, like a heavenly body that will never end.

Elizabeth Schön (1)

  1. Elizabeth Schön: (Caracas, November 30, 1921- Caracas, May 15, 2007) was a renowned Venezuelan poet, playwright  and essayist. One of the most brilliant and lucid feminine poetic voices, not only of Venezuela but also of Latin America. She was awarded the Municipal Poetry award in 1971 and the National Prize of Literature in 1994. She has more than twenty poetry books published and half a dozen plays.

View works from this Exhibition: CASERIO DEL COLOR (HAMLET OF COLOR), AND PULSO, COLOR y GESTO

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