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Synopsis

In this article, the critic Roberto Guevara reviews the works presented by the artist Mario Abreu at the exhibition Objetos Mágicos (Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, 1965). Guevara states that Abreu’s magical objects are among the most important and original works of visual art ever produced in Venezuelan. Far from choosing to work superficially with new languages, Abreu delves deeply into different expressive realms, imbuing his objects with an innovative transcendence that can only be described as a “wondrous reality.” In Guevara’s opinion, the artist struggles to express his spiritual existence with his terrible, beautiful, grotesque, and pure creations, all of which are related to the collective soul of the people. The waste matter and odd bits and pieces he assembles to produce his works interact together in their new life, the only place in which they seem to make sense. Guevara concludes that, in these pieces, Abreu has created “a fabulous chronicle of mankind.”     

Annotations

In this article about the magical objects produced by the Venezuelan visual artist Mario Abreu (1919–93), the critic and curator Roberto Guevara (1932–98) discusses their essential registers and nuances in comments that were subsequently addressed by other Venezuelan art critics and explored in later reviews. Guevara sees these objects as an evolution, at a deeper level, of Abreu’s earlier works, which the critic emphatically describes as the artist’s ongoing search for a unique language that masterfully overrides the influences—in this case of French Surrealism—that could have limited his discourse were it viewed in purely superficial terms. Guevara thus dismisses those who criticized Abreu’s work as just one more derivative of the international movement. In his article, Guevara describes all the substantial elements of these objects in terms of both their aesthetic and their conceptual and transcendent qualities, underscoring the total communion between them and making it clear that neither can exist without the other. As regards formal aspects, Guevara highlights the objectual quality of the works, referring to the fragments, bits and pieces, and waste matter used to assemble them, and explaining how the spatial connections between these elements make them more powerful when brought together. According to the critic, this seems to be the ultimate purpose of their existence. In his article, he suggests that the spatial relationship generates a mysterious universe that can be glimpsed as part real, part wonder; in other words, an act of magical creation. Guevara also explains that the forces that those relationships weave together are, basically, the substance and the essence of Abreu’s creation: the terrible and the beautiful, the sacred and the profane, the popular and the spiritual—which, all together, form a “rudimentary metaphysics.”             

Researcher
Josefina Manrique
Team
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Credit
Roberto Guevara, 1965
Location
Centro de Documentación, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Cota