CAROLINA OTERO: A FRAGMENTED VISION OF THE PLANET OR A SPIRITUALITY DERIVED FROM DISBELIEF
By María Elena Nuñez.
Introduction to an exhibit co-sponsored by Asociación Ateneo de Aragua, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Maracay Mario Abreu and Asociación Nacional de Institutos Educativos Privados ANDIEP.
I am eager to write this essay, having wondered for some time how much Modern or Postmodern is contained in Carolina Otero’s work. After visiting her workshop, reviewing her recent work, and chatting with her, I gave this some thought over the course of several days. I have reached the conclusion that the Modern in her work, that is to say, her values regarding Modern Art (a direct legacy from her parents Alejandro Otero and Mercedes Pardo), is treated as postmodern perception. She feels free to shred, strip and remix freely, but paradoxically, without diminishing the value or intention of her work.
It is as if she loves remnants, that is, whatever is left from the apprenticeship of Modern Art, but in fragmented iterations: a brushstroke borrowed from Matisse, or a particular yellow borrowed from Van Gogh, or a sense of space, borrowed from Mercedes Pardo (her mother), placing each next to a torn picture of an ice skater, or a fishing net like those utilized in Eastern coast of the country, for example. Her memories are deconstructed and re-organized as a vision of the planet; of a planet that is multiple and diverse, contaminated, for which we should care about more and care for in a better way. In this way, she rebuilds a journey, since her work is like a road well-traveled, with signals or footprints of what is understood, felt or lost, but that only wants to reveal itself through artistic expression and through images.
Her work always says more, much more than what I can decipher. It leaves us somewhat bare, or bereft, because after everything is given to us, it is also taken away. That is why I believe her work is Postmodern, since even believing it ends up disbelieving (after all, a cat is a cat, but most surely it will be more than just a cat). What do we do to keep believing? We believe in the work itself. In the studio, tracing, shredding. There is no other way. We need to find solid footing, otherwise we risk getting lost among so many fragmented things, and from there, I believe, we hold on to wood as a precious base and an analogy of a tree, of the Earth, of the planet. Again, believe to disbelieve. Because, the wooden canvas is neither a tree, nor the Earth, nor the planet. It is like too much. That’s why the work expands outside the edges; it floods us and leaves us a little empty. Who are we? What did we come to do on earth?
Therefore, we derive from her work a form of spirituality from the very sense of disbelief, from the fragmentation. It is at that point that she enters into Modernity again, and then takes her leave again. It is a game of illusions, of optical optimization, with so many fragments. It is all shred, shred, and shred, more and more. Is it a script? Is it a landscape? Are they views of Earth from a satellite? Is it a lattice, or a texture? Other interpretations are possible. Some, with a Modern take, and others with a Postmodern take.
It is my conclusion that the artist moves between one and the other extreme, between respect and love for a legacy, and a keen understanding of new experiences that have removed the base of that legacy. Carolina’s youth and personality ensure that she will create a journey filled with detail, as she will destroy to build again, combining the precious with remnants in a slippery mix, that, like a hammock, reminds us of our native people, who invented a different way to rest, dream, conceive and sleep…
María Elena Nuñez
Caracas, April 2001