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Juan Calzadilla divides his critical essay on the work of Pedro Briceño into two parts. The first examines the field of Venezuelan abstract sculpture in the mid-twentieth century, including an overview of the most important characteristics of Briceño’s recent work. Specifically, it focuses on the artist’s relationship with iron and wood as his working materials. The second part highlights the artist’s work as an art critic, praising both his sculpture and the related Abstract sculpture theory, which brings coherence and unity to all his work. Calzadilla acknowledges Briceño’s genuine interest in the links established between the object, the space and the viewer.
Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931), the writer of this essay on the Venezuelan sculptor Pedro Briceño (b. 1931), is distinguished both in his work as an art critic and historian and as the main promoter of Informalism in Venezuela. The first part of this essay is based on the text for the catalogue published for the exhibition Pedro Briceño (Caracas: Museo de Bellas Artes, 1959). This was the artist’s second individual exhibition in Venezuela (and the first in a museum), after the one held at the Taller Libre de Arte (TLA) in 1954. When Calzadilla wrote this text (1967), there had been professional ties between Briceño and the critic for several years, since both men wrote art criticism for the daily newspaper El Nacional. Subsequently, the two worked together on a book that they published jointly under the title Escultura / Escultores (Caracas: Maraven, 1977). After acknowledging the importance of Briceño to the Abstract sculpture genre in Venezuela, Calzadilla goes on to praise the artist’s work as an art critic. He states that the sculptor has achieved an exceptional comprehension of the visual arts derived from his thinking process as well as his intense study of art history and contemporary aesthetics. As he opined some years before about other sculptors such as Víctor Valera, the writer sees Briceño as an excellent candidate to recover the art of sculpture in Venezuela from its crisis of the 1950s and 1960s.