| ARTIST PROFILES – REVIEWS |
Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Ecuadorian born artist Pablo Caviedes in his studio in New York City. Caviedes’ latest exhibition entitled “Mannequin” opens at Studio H on April 2, 2011.
Now an internationally acclaimed artist who has shown his work in France, Spain, Ecuador and the United States, Caviedes reminisced about being naturally disposed to drawing at a very early age and how he found sanctuary as a child in the art making process. At age sixteen he was given the opportunity to enroll in art school and by age twenty he was actively pursuing his career as an artist.
His big break came when he was selected to receive the 1994 Paris Award, considered to be the most important award for Ecuadorian artists under the age of forty. “This opened the door for me to go to Paris and connected me with Europe” Caviedes explained. It was through discussions with artists and curators in Paris that Caviedes made the decision to move to New York City, a city he still refers to as the center of the art world.
Caviedes talked about the challenges in establishing himself as an artist in New York, which for him meant starting from the beginning. Yet, in the past six year Caviedes has gained much recognition in the United States, with almost thirty exhibitions in New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Maryland.
His upcoming exhibition at Studio H is comprised of new work that explores the dichotomy between the natural and the artificial. The symbolic imagery used in his paintings and sculptures refer to what Caviedes calls “fakeness”— often humorous commentary on societal fascination and obsession with virtual, artificial life that mimics natural human forms. In this exhibition you will find imagery referring to cameras, TV screens, tripods and mannequin limbs. “I like using metaphor in my art” Caviedes explains, “Mannequin symbolizes artificial life…I think we loose a lot of sense of the real and natural life living in present times.”
Caviedes is not so much moralizing as he is making a humorous statement about what he calls the loss of the natural human quality and the human identity. His work addresses deep conflict and struggle within the human condition and more specifically, opposition within the human psyche–cynicism and empathy, humor and anguish.
Focusing on the imagery and style of his paintings I was first drawn to compare it to the work of Giorgio de Chirico but resisted being taken in by the surrealist hook. I ask him if his work has been influenced by painters such as Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon. Caviedes told me that during his life he has encountered a wide variety of artists whom he believes have unconsciously influenced his imagery, technique and process, but there is no doubt in his mind that Pablo Picasso is the artist who has been most consciously influential. “I believe (Picasso) is the bridge between modern art and the past. My two favorite paintings are Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon’ and ‘The Arnolfini Marriage’ by Jan Van Eyck.”
When asked why these two paintings have such an impact on his work Caviedes replies: “‘Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon’ is to me a true example of perfection, balance, courage, strength and beauty in art…and ‘The Arnolfini Marriage’ has an amazing power of capturing your mind, energy and pulls you right there, into its hypnotic ambiance.”
What resonates deeply are the endearing animal forms in Caviedes work and their relationship to the artificial human figures and to each other–their relationship is ambiguous, creating a sense of curiosity and isolation.
Caviedes’ paintings are haunting, atmospheric landscapes that capture a moment of time in between virtual and real worlds. The work stays in my mind for days as I rethink the symbolic meaning of imagery and the overarching message of the exhibition as a whole. I highly recommend making the journey in to Pablo Caviedes paradigm of “Mannequins”. It is an adventure you will not forget.