Alejandro Otero (1921–1990), founder of Los Disidentes—a group of Venezuelan intellectuals and painters then in Paris—pioneer of kineticism, and one of the artists introducing abstraction to the country, writes this article on Signes, the series of another abstract art forerunner (and his wife) Mercedes Pardo (1921–2005). It was published in Revista Cal (1962–67), a historical Venezuelan journal dedicated to avant-garde issues on art and literature. Its artistic director, Nedo (Mion Ferrario, 1926–2001) is acknowledged in the text and praised for the exhibition catalogue of Pardo’s 1964 Signes at Sala Mendoza, analyzed in this document. The Fundación Sala Mendoza offered its space for exhibitions and cultural debate since its inception in 1986 Caracas. The artist exhibited her work again in this venue in 1970, in Obras recientes.
Otero analyses the different stages of Signes stemming from its presentation. Just as the Revista Cal aimed at an integration of the arts through criticism focused on literature and art, Pardo’s series wishes to mix visual and literary elements by means of variations of the twelve zodiac signs through ink prints of ordinary household objects including nails and needles, but also rice or lentils. Pardo’s Signes were published in twelve books (one per zodiac sign) under Venezuelan cinético Carlos Cruz-Diez’s (1923–2019) design. His well-known research and theory on color in space and time was highly informed as a graphic designer, both in the early stages of his career—still a figurative painter and worked for El Farol (1944), creating comic strips for several newspapers—and later just arrived in Paris (1960–71) when the art journal Robho (1967–71) was designed with Jean Clay. Otero’s comments emphasize that color is the “keynote” of her work. By associating the leading note of a musical score to color, he argues that color is the kernel around which Pardo’s art revolves. The literature on the centrality of color in Pardo’s work is extensive, but it is significant to note how Otero equally highlights the importance of music in her work.
[For further reading on Pardo’s Signes, see in the ICAA Digital Archive: Lorenzo Batallán, “’Signos’ de la pintora Mercedes Pardo” (1155975); and José Balza, “Mercedes Pardo: el espejo inverso” (1157206). For another text on Pardo’s work, see Otero, “Mercedes Pardo: color de la serigrafía” (1143176). With regard to the magazine, see “El surgimiento de CAL” (1169178), and “Título Cal: Crítica, arte, literatura” (1169078).]