MÁS SITUACIONES II: SIGFREDO CHACON / CURATORIAL STUDIES AND THE ISLAA
CURATED BY HELENA CHEN
November 4 - December 2, 2022
MÁS SITUACIONES II: SIGFREDO CHACON
Más Situaciones II presents a selection of works by internationally known artist Sigfredo Chacón (b. 1950, Venezuela), capturing shifts from the conceptual to the more overtly political in his practice. Chacón’s original Situaciones (Situations, 1972) exhibition at the Ateneo of Caracas is here represented in documentary photographs. One sees how the artist displayed seemingly casual arrangements of fabrics hung by ropes on the wall or looped over a toppled pedestal. Chacón approached painting as an “object” by elevating unprimed canvas to the status of a final work that stands in for the “idea” of painting. In so doing, Chacón criticized the dominant aesthetic trend of Kinetic Art in Venezuela, which is characterized by its calculated hard-edge geometric abstraction and optical appeal.
Chacón emigrated to Miami in June of 2017, and in this new environment he made conspicuous changes for the 2018 version of Situaciones, which was featured in his solo exhibition at Miami Biennale, which is in part recreated here. With its serial presentation of olive-green canvases each suspended by a rope, the work conjures military force and hanging. On the gallery floor, the artist has added a pile of white canvas bags with the word “ANONIMO” (Anonymous) in uppercase letters, referencing body bags and the Venezuelan government’s slaughtering of innocent people. In conjuring the violence of contemporary Venezuela, Chacón’s 2018 rendition of Situaciones can be related to the practices of other artists working under dictatorships such as Arturo Barrio’s trouxas ensangüentadas (bloody bundles), which reference the tortured remains of the “disappeared” in Brazil. Finally, the exhibition presents three paintings from the Fornowpainting series (2018–2019). Painted in army green with red lines that recall the modernist grid and cross hair marks, these surfaces allude to the visuality of authoritarianism while a stenciled word (i.e., MOMENTS, PEOPLE, and INVADER) remains visible on each canvas.
By showcasing the 1972 and 2018 Situaciones as well as the Fornowpainting series, the exhibition demonstrates how Chacón’s practice is both supremely conceptual and imbued with broader reflections on how politics and the experience of exile can inhabit conceptually driven painting through how he puts to use color, language, and materials.
Helena Chen, doctoral candidate in Art History