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    Silva Estrada, Alfredo, 1933-2009
    Variaciones sobre reticuláreas : en homenaje a Gego / Alfredo Silva Estrada
    Caracas, Venezuela : Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, 1979
    Book/Pamphlet – Poem
    Silva Estrada, Alfredo.Variaciones sobre Reticuláreas: en homenaje a Gego. Caracas, Venezuela: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, 1979.

This document is the first edition (Caracas: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 1979) of the book, Variaciones sobre reticuláreas, [Variations on Reticuláreas], a poem by Alfredo Silva Estrada. Silva Estrada wrote the poem as an homage to Gego on the tenth anniversary of her creation of the Reticulárea (1969), and the book, designed by Gerd Leufert, was illustrated with five of the artist’s drawings. The poem is divided into two parts, each consisting of seven stanzas (or sets of verses) numbered from one to seven. Written in free verse, the poem begins with the word “reticuláreas,” followed by phrases and metaphors arranged on the page to form a drawing , and naming elements, concepts, and qualities such as air, a free hand, light, shadow, knots, connections, surprise, line, and an immense web, which all refer to sections of webs or “reticuláreas.”


The collaboration brought together the Venezuelan artist originally from Germany, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, 1912–1994) and the well-known poet and professor of Venezuelan literature, Alfredo Silva Estrada (1933–2009). In some aspects, their interests overlapped, especially when it came to experiences of time and space. Other scholars of literature such as the Venezuelan poet, Juan Liscano, have commented on this. For example, Liscano stated that: “Silva Estrada, working from inner-most feelings, sets up a fundamentally writing-based relation between the promptings of time and poetry, to escape destruction. He experiments with form but never excludes experience. He is a builder of poetic verbal spaces, articulated and set in motion.” (Cf. “Venezuelan Poetry Today,” Latin American Literary Review, 12, no. 24 (Spring 1984): 40.)

The diversity of creators whose focus has turned toward the Reticulárea (from the worlds of fiction, dance, music, and poetry) set a precedent for this long poem by Silva Estrada. Under the title, Variaciones sobre reticuláreas, the book is illustrated with five Gego drawings and designed by the well-known artist and designer, Gerd Leufert (1914–1998), Gego’s partner, who is originally from Lithuania. Once before in 1964, the poet and the artist had worked on a similar project of language integration, bringing together the word and the visual arts in a book that was handmade by Gego with prints in high relief with forms that stand out from the surface as paper textures, and poems by Silva Estrada, titled Lo nunca proyectado [The Never Projected].

Variaciones sobre reticuláreas was presented to the public in 1980, drawing profuse comments in the communications media. It was a new experience in arts integration (unique and unprecedented in Venezuela), incorporating a third creator, Gerd Leufert. In addition, as Gego confessed in an interview with María Luz Cárdenas about the book: “I think it is more common for an artist to contribute as an illustrator of poems than for a poet to be inspired by an artist’s work of art.” In any event, with respect to Variaciones sobre reticuláreas, she admitted that what was most interesting was the contribution of the poetry to the comprehension of her work, since the poetry enables the viewer to see the value of the work in a brief description.

This poem was published again in collections of Silva Estrada’s poems such as Los quintetos del círculo [The Quintets of the Circle] (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 1982); nevertheless, only the first edition can be considered an art book—a work of art made by three creators.

Variaciones sobre reticuláreas, translated into English by Paulette Pagani in 2010, is included among the texts selected for the bilingual book, Desenredando la red. La Reticulárea de Gego. Una antología de respuestas críticas / Untangling the Web: Gego’s Reticulárea, An Anthology of Critical Response, María Elena Huizi and Ester Crespin (organizers)—to be published in 2013 by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Fundación Gego, Caracas.

María Elena Huizi
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Courtesy of the Private Archives of Sonia Sanoja