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In this essay, Luis Enrique Pérez Oramas studies Gego’s work, Reticulárea (1969) as Venezuela’s first real incursion into contemporary art. The critic contrasts the premises maintained by Venezuelan Syntheticism (which claims to be the last avant-garde of the twentieth century) with those of Reticulárea, presenting them as opposites. Pérez Oramas objects to the idea that Venezuelan Kinetic artists have overcome the limitations of the narrative nature of the visual arts. Rather, in his opinion, Kinetic murals require a viewer who moves in a linear way before such artworks in order to obtain the effect of gyration or movement, which introduces a “narrative structure” into the works. In opposition, and as a criticism of the Kinetic aesthetic—which, in his opinion, creates perfect, immaculate volumes, thus operating as centered, classic models—the Reticulárea has no center. Thus, it appears to grow from its margins in “rhizomatic” growth, that is, heterogeneous and uneven, marked by tensions and intrigue. In other words, it has no need of a viewer placed in a privileged position to perceive it, and neither does it have any governing plan or model of any kind.
This long essay was written by the Venezuelan curator and art critic, Luis Enrique Pérez Oramas (b. 1960), on the work Reticulárea (1969), by the Venezuelan artist originally from Germany, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, 1912–1994). In the study of this central piece in the body of Gego’s work, this text represents a new paradigm. We may draw the conclusion from this essay that Reticulárea is fundamental to Venezuelan contemporary art. The writer does not just analyze the specific elements that make this piece so symbolic of all Gego’s work. He also flies in the face of many of the ideas and perspectives maintained by art historians and critics about contemporary Venezuelan art until that moment. Pérez Oramas reevaluates the importance of Gego, and upholds her artistic approach in opposition to those names that had been accorded the most importance on the cultural scene in that period. The critic goes on to place Venezuela’s aesthetic goals in the context of the country’s political history, creating reciprocities between the artistic and political discourse. Starting from the classical limits established by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781) for the visual arts (and from his analysis of the Greek sculpture, Laocoön), Pérez Oramas points out the utopian element in Kinetic art theory. Specifically, he focuses on its attempt to go beyond the narrative dynamic, which he deems comparable to the failure of utopias and developmental models imposed from the political sphere. In his judgment, Gego’s work is different in that it does not lead to an illusion; it is a “work of disillusions.” Among its many repercussions, Gego’s work recovers the specific place of the visual arts in the great tradition of the Laocoön. In this way, freed from the cry that is impossible for Laocoön and from any other story, it operates in silence.