In 1977, Venezuelan painter and sculptor Omar Carreño (b. 1927) turned fifty. This interview by journalist Teresa Alvarenga examines his career at that particular juncture. After producing transformable works in the fifties, Carreño was at the forefront of the Expansionist movement in the sixties, engaging in intensive theoretical work—illustrated by the manifestos he wrote—and exhibiting widely. In the seventies, the artist appeared to consolidate concepts formulated in the sixties, specifically in relation to transformable work, which was gaining greater acceptance from art institutions. Carreño continued to take part in exhibitions even though, as the artist himself admits in this interview, he was not able to develop new projects due to health problems. Indeed, that may well have been the reason the artist resumed more conventional forms of painting in works that he would show starting in the mid-eighties. In any case, this interview is not nostalgic in its retrospective vision of the Expansionist movement, nor does it envision it as a frustrated or truncated project. Instead, Expansionist concepts are seen as full of potential for future technologies, and therefore, are as far-reaching.
At the time of this interview, the problem of originality was still fundamental to the legitimacy of art movements. There is a discussion here of whether Omar Carreño or Yaacov Agam was the first artist to experiment with transformable work. The discussion of the novelty of concepts appears to entail a tension between the local and the foreign, between recognition of Venezuelan artists and acceptance of European tendencies—a constant concern of Latin American artists in the seventies.
Regarding the Expansionist manifesto signed by Omar Carreño and other Venezuelan artists, see “Expansionismo: Manifiesto 1” (ICAA digital archive 1157270) and “Expansionismo: Manifiesto 2” (1157254). For a reflection on Omar Carreño’s visual language, see Guédez’s essay, “La construcción de lo visual en Omar Carreño” (1157401).