Bélgica Rodríguez

Artistic production began in the XXI century battling for its identity. While the technological means have taken over much of that battle, art, the noble art, does not fade and to maintain its historical space, its achievements and findings, always goes to the war instruments inherent to it: its plastics values. Good artists and creators are, and will be, their gladiators. The work of Asdrubal Colmenárez claims victory; it is a step ahead of his generation. In reviewing the history of this multifaceted man one can perceive an obsession for the relationships between different and distinct elements that violate conventional rules, as well as an addiction to changes in format, dimensions, materials, and unique and multiplying proposals. While on the plane or in the physical space, he presents epic contents using the literary resources such as the Odyssey, Ulysses or King Oedipus, or by appealing to memories of trips or heartaches, and as in Erotika, sensual and evocative work, to revelations of love games in dream worlds. The observer as an intense voyeur watches and observes this game of intimate nudity, discovering it through the keyhole, after covering an intricate surface of lines and color spots.

From the majesty of the Venezuelan Andes, Colmenarez traveled directly to Paris. He studied at the University of Vincennes with Frank Popper, a theorist and historian of kinetic art, was his assistant and then professor of contemporary art at the university; from his retirement from teaching until today, he is entirely devoted to his creative work. In the journey prior to the trip to Europe he was a painter of surrealist tendency, but at the end of the sixties kinetic proposals were part of an intense investigation that led him to develop kinetic-visual speeches, whose final reading involved the full participation of the viewer: sensory and perceptual, psychological and emotional. These factors, added an important recreational component; interplay between artist, work and receiver. Since the exhibitions Tactile Psycho-magnetic (1976), Multisensory Alphabet (1978) and Manageable Structures (1981), he defined several constants for his work, for example the meaning of multisensory, writing displayed in graffiti, the letter, the phrase or word, perceptible movement in the flow, the changeable and the unstable, as well as the role of the observer. As an artist who works in a variety of mixed media, he has expressed himself in painting, sculpture, reliefs, performance, and installations; starting from significant breaks with certain codes of the re-presentation, he has been based on compositional structures resolved according to a formal order, defining an artistic reality simultaneously figurative, abstract and conceptual. By fragmenting shapes, images, color and planes and inserting visual situations seemingly inarticulate, his visual speech rules out linear connections between what he shows and who perceives it and feels it.
His proposals and findings have taken him beyond the borders of the historical and contemporary avant-garde to a post contemporaneity without rhetoric or visual decorations or conceptually discursive. Since his beginnings he broke with the Euclidean tradition in the history of art, basing his disconcerting especially on cubist and kinetic principles, two trends that helped change the course of the history of art of the XX century.

His themes, historically unchanged, are visible and readable by a reading that breaks the normal consistency of a landscape or scenery (human, urban or natural), and locates man in unprecedented harmony on it. A good example is the series Lost Heartaches (1999), when the fragmented urban landscape is reconstructed as a graveyard of cars on simultaneous violence of planes, sometimes sweetened or demonized, by a teddy bear or a couple of plastic dolls. This situation is repeated throughout his work, the artist introduces annotations, visual and literary, superimposed as in dreams, which complicate meanings and contents. In Voyage, an exhibition of 2001, these notes are opposed to the possible poetic perception of a landscape by the multiple and labyrinth like composition, in which patches of color, lines, shapes, act as juxtaposed curtains or as Odysseus's Journey and Odyssée Night, 2004 and King Oedipus, Labyrinth of the Being, 2006, when the structure of the surface of the works is more complex, turning a literary epic in an epic vision. The strength of the plastic-formal resolutions, of concept and idea, the work draws the viewer through the semiological load of the various speeches and multiple meanings that run there. Speeches that being interpreted as the collective concept of identity, resulting in the encounter of a genesis of Western art with a post contemporaneity.

In the light of art history and plastic trends of the XX century, Colmenárez proposes absolute discontinuity of the plane. In the two-dimensional shapes and figures floating in space, while color, lines and volumes, mark and define that space. In the three- dimensional, this discontinuity occurs in the transition between volumes, some disrupted by disconcerting added in flagrant opposition of the solid with the soft, the heavy with the light. The artist does not synthesize his life occurrences; on the contrary, he transforms them in baroque. An analysis and reflection leads to consider this work as a result of important allusions to the historical avant-garde, to various themes and a visual aesthetic conception of the visual fact based on the horror of emptiness, all of it expressed in structures of multiple approaches, when appropriating of modern and contemporary art, history making hi Cubism, Surrealism, kinetic art, action painting, abstractionism, expressionism and in epic tone he generates grandeur. As in dreams, he intermingles situations, unites them in labored fabrics and integrates a group of overlapping images, juxtaposed, intertwined, to which the viewer has access only through a crack of his perceptive capacity. Violence? Of course. This area is as violent as those that have changed the course of a history, but the tenderness of the one who finds the notion of a divine order is sensed. Within volcanic an apparent volcanic disorder, the artist expresses harmony and balance. His is a creating universe solved in two ways: abandonment and the search of perfection, instances in which he is inscribed, as significant connotation, the most intimate of the human being and his circumstances.

In Erotika, two are Colmenárez’s obsessions: the erotic as a theme, visually resolved in the complex plastic-formal of the composite structure and the exacerbation of a mixed technique that almost reaches the edge of the unacceptable: solid set of surreal structures supported on the relationship, unconscious and automatic, of images floating devoted to a glorious game of love. Passions and desires that derive into the forbidden, lonely characters united by an almost amorphous universe.

In works such as Timeless, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Homage to Courbet, the game is clear, the characters, suspended in the emptiness give each other over pushed toward the viewer for glazing, transparencies and crossing of shapes, colors, lines, letters, phrases, circles and many other elements.


Regarding this exhibition, the artist mentions his interest, and even inspired, by George Bataille's erotic literature (1897-1962). But the erotic in his plastic work is not new as presence, atmosphere and energy while Bataille builds a literary monument defined as an extraordinary example of the twentieth-century Gothic novel, Asdrubal Colmenárez builts a monument of great richness and visual exuberance that could also be defined , as Bataille’s style as "gothic." In Erotika, the artist controls his "Gothic" universe; through intimate atmospheres and domestic formats, he covers paths of nooks and crannies, takes out of the closets, delves into the personal and collective memory and with images of passionate and thoughtful expressionism, he builds abstract-figurative scenarios of polysemic meanings; taking collage to extreme richness and exuberance, he shows his strong challenge to academic art conventions. Referring to the literature of George Bataille, Octavio Paz, he speaks about the writer’s rejection to the impregnable citadel of dogmas, precisely what Colmenárez has posed to by turning to visual violence, thematic aggression, the sensuality of the stabbing as opposed to the curved, to shameless sex, to tart humor, the naked bodies that writhe in sensual rhythms, without antagonism or subordination, they and the images are there, living their own life.

Asdrubal Colmenárez has not been a victim of the gods, like Odysseus or Oedipus, on the contrary, he is protected by them. His work responds to a call for independence, freedom and challenge, challenges and risks, prerogatives that belong only to the creator. Creative and human, he has led his work to highlighting moments, undertaking many trips, first from his own life, then from his memories, existential, poetic and artistic, it is from there that the nomadic man and philosopher of art and life, weaves the net under its shadow he hides to appear glowing in the light of a work of art.

Caracas, April 2008