Fernando Suárez: Looks and mimesis of sculpture.

Sculptural minimalism owes a new conception of sculpture. An overflow of the avant-garde categories (formal essence and author) with which the previous abstract expressionist version of sculpture had worked on its horizon of expectations. Sculptors like Donald Judd and Carl André in the mid-1960s and early 1970s question, in one direction, the morphological and discursive paradigms when executing the insertion of objects (fluorescent tubes, bricks, glass cubes, etc.) from the world of life within the artistic sphere. In the other, they renounced the pedestal as the defining morphology of the sculptural event to privilege, instead, the space-time locations. In this sense, minimalism opposes conception and perception by making the interpretation of the work depend on a space, a time and some particular bodies.

A twist on these transgressions was starred in the 1980s by the so-called sculpture of consumer goods by authors such as Jeff Koons and Haiman Steinbach, introducing in their exhibitions, close to Duchamp's ideo-aesthetic stance, handicraft objects and household appliance (1). When everything seemed to indicate that the sculpture abandoned the image to immerse itself in the equivalence of the sign-commodity or the analytical purity of the minimal, anthropomorphism erupted again in the mid-nineties with the works of Jake and Dinos Chapman, Stephan Balkenhol or Ron Mueck, among others. These, from post-conceptual attitudes, revitalize within their proposals the expressionist forms and the most transgressive discursive contents of current sculpture.

The body of sculptural work presented by Fernando Suárez in this exhibition is crossed by a diversity of ideo-aesthetic contents. On the one hand, it highlights the clear presence of anthropomorphic figures with a realistic appearance, but with a fantastic and somewhat heroic aura, always in a position of movement. Both works such as Puppets, Iron Pool, and Vertical Steel and Acrobats, among others, refer to a gallery of characters from the world of cartoons, comics and Hollywood science fiction films. This rosary of figures is already part of an imaginary anchored in popular culture, contents for which the author shows an evident interest. A fact that, curiously, contrasts with the bare iron material and the neo-expressionist forms that trace the features of these characters.

On the other hand, in works such as Mecong, Double-transit, Barco, Under construction or Circular transit BR, Suárez is attracted by a more exotic world such as architectural and other elements that identify Asian culture. Ships and bridges as seductive forms in themselves that, perhaps due to the degree of realism with a certain poetic nuance, discovers the attempt to apprehend different and distant stories, although "known" and instantly connected to our world of life through global communications. Here the author delves, from the stylistic point of view, in the curiosity motivated by the detail of autochthonous cultural figures that, in some way, describe the particular sensuality present in the oriental perception.

The fragility, the instinct for balance, the simple harmony between the material and spiritual potentialities with the environment, are projected by these sculptures as a manifestation of the oriental idiosyncrasy. Those that are paradoxically reinforced by the rigidity and weightlessness of the iron with which they are made.

In this exhibition by Fernando Suárez, the distinction between two work areas can be observed within his proposal. A line associated, in its formal horizons, with the figuration of a neo-expressionist tint that, however, in the proposals of its contents plunges into discursive areas of pop. Embodied in this repertoire of prolific characters, where we find puppets, astronauts, acrobats, pole vaulters, etc. The other line is given through that playful interest in the exotic, which translates into a kind of postmodern pastiche of images and figures belonging to oriental culture.

Both the use of elements belonging to popular culture and the appropriation of images with historicist overtones from other cultures respond to the spirit of the post-avant-garde. In convergence with this spirit, Suárez's work denies, on the one hand, the formal autonomy of the work postulated by the avant-gardes, since it reveals, even in its most imaginatively authorial projections, its almost immediate connection with reality. On the other hand, the categories of originality and author are questioned, from the moment that popular culture archives are used to be reinterpreted, and serial images due to the global dimensions reached by culture, become content of representation sculptural.

Dennys Matos.


(1) Hal Foster. The return of real. Ediciones Akal, SA, 2001.