press release

Through will be the first individual museum exhibition of the Venezuelan artist Carla Arocha in Latin America and in Europe. The exhibition will showcase a selection of works produced since 2000 along with other previous pieces. The works in the selection include all the means used by the artist, such as painting, photography, drawing, installation, and mix media. Produced in various scales, the works dimensions varied from a sheet of paper (as in the series “by chance”) to the theatrical stage (as in the installation “Underground”).

This exhibition is a review “through” the process of investigation of the artist. Arocha’s investigation can be defined as a critical discourse around the ways of differentiating seeing and looking, postulated as a reflection on modern constructions of the gaze. Thus the exhibition is proposed as a double journey into the visual. On one hand, the spectator will experience a journey through the different “gaze” spaces that the work constructs and, on the other hand, s/he will move across the different moments in the visual development of this artist.

In the work of Arocha there can be recognized several ways of conceiving the beholder’s space. The relationship between reflection, transparency and opaqueness, are three of the ways of constructing the gaze that are examined in Arocha’s work. These ways of constructing the look have been explored by Arocha in a diversity of approaches that are reflected in this exhibition. From repulsion to greed, from curiosity to indifference, or from intolerance to correctness, her body of work is a meticulous study of the powers of the gaze.

Formed first as biologist and then as artist in Chicago, Arocha presently resides in Antwerp (Belgium). It is visible in the work of this artist of Venezuelan origin that the abstract - constructivist tradition prevailing both in Chicago and in Venezuela since the postwar period, has influence in her work. Although the influences of modernist movements like the Russian Constructivism and the Bauhaus in Venezuela and in Chicago are very different, Arocha’s work is a case study since it is a critical articulation of both contexts. Her work re-articulated these traditions as far as it is part of the ongoing artistic revisions of the ways in which modernity and modernism have been assimilated in our times. Her concern is not strictly art, but visual culture as a whole.

From the beginning the artist alludes in a very direct and critical way to the possibilities of continuity and validity of the modernist experience, in particular to abstraction tradition. But her work instead of being drawn from abstraction as it has been canonized in art history, it is drawn from how this tradition has been assimilated in the widest context of culture to then return it contaminated to the sphere of the art.

The mean of reflection for this artist is imminently pictorial, even though it is usual for Arocha to present her investigations in a diversity of forms. Her work brings out to painting in its most recognizable form, but it is also spread out in the space in the shape of drawings, installations and site specific proposals in which the display is carefully planned by her.

In many of her works the artist takes abstract patterns, some of decorative nature out of the worlds of fashion, design, and architecture. In this way Arocha allows her personal experience to be a departure to deal with the manifestations of abstraction in culture. In short, her work promotes a participation of a personal narrative that is in apparent contradiction with the supposedly non representational, non narrative structure of abstraction. The titles of her works particularly suggest the presence of a narrative drive (titles such as Transition, Startled, Broken, Nausea, and In the Dark are good examples of this). Arocha’s work has also been considered to be a contribution to investigations around the feminine in art and there are those who have referred to her approach as a way of feminizing feminism.

In the work of Arocha there is a relationship between space and spectator that assumes a disruption in the relations between object and subject. In this respect it is particularly suggestive the persistent invitation of her work to look not only at what exists in the surface (the opaque), but also to what is allowed to be seen through (the transparent) and what is reflected.

Together with the exhibition there will be a catalogue that will include texts by Jesus Fuenmayor, Carlos Basualdo, Gerrit Vermeiren and Philippe Pirotte, documents, photography of works and installation shots of the exhibition, list of works, bibliography and any another relevant aspect for the comprehension of the work of the artist.

A curatorial project by Jesús Fuenmayor, co-curated by Philippe Pirotte


only in german

Carla Arocha
Kuratoren: Jesus Fuenmayor, Philippe Pirotte