November 10, 2018 - Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen - Sol Calero: Sensory Spaces 15
November 10, 2018

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Sensory Spaces 15: Sol Calero, El Patio, 2018. Installation at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Photo: Studio Hans Wilschut.

Sol Calero
Sensory Spaces 15
October 13, 2018–January 13, 2019

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
The Netherlands

T +31 10 441 9400
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For the 15th edition of Sensory Spaces, Sol Calero (Caracas 1982) has created a colourful meeting place: a patio-like setting where visitors can relax or enter into conversation with each other. Calero is known for scrutinising cultural clichés, especially those relating to Latin American identity. To do this, she employs a motley mix of colours, patterns and forms that are considered typical of this geographical area. The question is whether this image is complete.

Calero had been fascinated for years by both the renaissance and the baroque movement, and the influence they had on Latin-American art. Therefore the Rotterdam museum with its extensive collection of old masters, including masterpieces by baroque artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, was the right context for her to explore this subject in a solo exhibition.

The influence of the baroque period on Latin-American art was based to an important extent on prints. During the pre-modern era the Spanish shipped countless prints of works by European artists such as Rubens to the "New World," with the idea that they would be able to play an important role in missionary work. Indigenous artists were actually expected to copy the prints and introduce European art and culture in their own environment in this way. The artists did use the composition and Christian iconography from the black and white prints, but had to interpret the palette of colors and brushwork in their own way. After all, they did not know the original paintings. This often meant that the works acquired a different significance. 

Calero is fascinated by the way in which one culture can assimilate another, either forcefully or otherwise. In her work, ranging from paintings and graphic works to large-scale spatial installations, she tries to unravel cultural clichés. This also applies to the installation El Patio which she made for Sensory Spaces. The work looks like a colorful patio that serves as a meeting place for visitors to the museum. In Latin-American countries patios are part of the social structure: they are places where people come together, exchange ideas and live their lives. Because the patio has such a central place in daily life, Calero believes that it is easy to forget that it is the icon of colonial architecture. After all, it was the Spanish who introduced the patio in the New World. In fact, in Spain the patio had been greatly influenced by the Arab world, amongst others. El Patio has a symmetrical structure consisting of arched walls you can walk through, surrounding a square courtyard with a wishing well. The walls are partly covered by wallpaper designed by the artist, incorporating floral and geometrical patterns. 

In Calero’s presentation the motifs on the wallpaper are executed in black and white on one side of the wall, while they appear in colour on the other side. This can be considered as a contemporary version of the interpretation of European prints by the indigenous artists of the New World. Calero examines, translates and interprets the Latin-American history of art and adds her own elements in her installations and other works of art. For the palette of colours used in El Patio she was inspired by Rubens, particularly by his famous oil sketches. The museum has several of these, currently being shown in the Pure Rubens exhibition in another part of the museum. Numerous exhibitions have been devoted to the influence Rubens had on European art, but in recent years academics have devoted increasing attention to his influence on Latin-American art. In this way Calero’s presentation meets the current demand for a broader and more pluriform canon of art history.

Text by curator Saskia van Kampen-Prein, as publiced in the brochure of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen about the Sensory Spaces series.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
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