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[In this text], Miyó Vestrini interviews Mario Abreu, who states that he has captured the exuberance and mysteries of Venezuela in his work. His magical objects represent an encounter with the traditions wherein he found his own existence; they fuse magic with the strengths of the Spanish and indigenous peoples. According to the artist, a magical object cannot be understood as an aesthetic product, but instead as an exaltation of being and its contradictions; it is an encounter with magic based on life, the existential, and that which is beyond calculation and abstraction. In another part [of the text], Abreu comments on the art market, official institutions, and on cultural colonialism that he perceives as embedded within Venezuelan society.
This interview by Miyo Vestrini (1938–1991), a Venezuelan journalist of French origin, with Mario Abreu (1919–1993) is of note because it identifies the essential concepts that define the work of the Venezuelan artist, and also [sheds light] on his personality and the frustrations he felt with respect to the cultural milieu of his country. The journalist allows Abreu to open up in such a way that his ideas flow naturally; Vestrini also adds to the interview with observations on the mental and physical state of the artist.
Prior to the interview, Vestrini offers an impression of Abreu’s character when he describes his speech: “de un lirismo extraño, pasa también a la agresividad ruda, implacable” [from a strange lyricism, he transitions into an implacable, sharp aggression]. In his statements, Abreu alternates rapidly between topics and adds in assessments of his work that reveal his devotion to his country, and his disdain for the Venezuelan cultural milieu (from which he perceives rejection and neglect), resulting in some dramatic moments in the dialogue. The artist denounces the lack of official support for his work, as well as the art market that [he believes] seeks to impose [certain] trends, which in his judgment, are the product of a cultural colonialism from which Venezuela has not managed to free itself.
Abreu sees himself as “un libertador” [a liberator], given that his work represents the country and America itself: its roots, contradictions, spirituality and magic, and because these are core ideas that define his trajectory [as an artist]. Despite this, Abreu is a “liberator” who receives little or no attention; for this reason the artist declares that “tendré que irme un día de este país, ya me estoy yendo, ya me fui” [one day I will have to leave this country, I am already leaving, I have already left.]
[For a review of Abreu’s work by Manuel Trujillo, see the ICAA digital archive, “Abreu, Pintor desorientado” [Abreu, A Disoriented Painter] (doc. no. 850789). See also the interview conducted by Gustavo Manrique for his objetos mágicos [magical objects] exhibition “Yo Mario Abreu digo que sólo lo americano nos salvará,” [I, Mario Abreu, Say That Only What Is American Will Save Us] (doc. no. 1102189)].