Carlos Cruz-Diez @ MAC Panama

Dep Art Gallery
Oct 29, 2019 10:59AM

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) of Panama, last summer (from 23rd June to 18th August 2019), presented a retrospective exhibition on artist Carlos Cruz-Diez.

Internationally recognized as one of the most relevant figure within the Latin American – but not only – kinetic-art movement, Carlos Cruz-Diez solo-show, titled “Cruz-Diez: El color hacièndose”, was a comprehensive solo-show on the works made by the artist over the last years.

MAC Panamà - Carlos Cruz-Diez, El Color Hacièndose

Biographical notes

Born in 1923 in Caracas, Carlos Cruz-Diez enrolled at the city’s School of Plastic and Applied Arts in 1940. After graduating in 1945, he began to work as an illustrator for local newspapers and then as creative director for an international advertising agency (McCann-Erickson Worldwide, which sending him to New York in 1947 to study the latest industry developments).

His early works were mostly figurative, often denouncing the social issues of those days. Then in the mid ‘50s, after approaching Bauhaus and the European avant-guard, he began to work on abstract reliefs in plywood, acrylic paint and modulated cardboard strips, in particular he aimed to apprehend color as a pure sensory phenomenon. As himself stated: “Color is not simply the color of things or the color of form, it is an evolving situation, a reality which acts on the human being with the same intensity as cold, heat, sound, etc. It is a raw perception which cultural tradition prevents us from isolating”.

At the peak of these researches, in 1959, “Physichromie” series were born and would continue and evolve over the next six decades. These works are best defined in the Cruz-Diez’s own words: “The Physichromie are like light traps, a space where a series of color strips interact and transform one another. They generate new ranges of color and invade the space that surrounds the vertical bands that cover the entire work. Moreover, the movement of the viewer and the light source create a series of chromatic variations, similar to those produced in a real landscape with each revolution of the sun. They will never be exactly the same because the intensity and nature of the light that is shed upon them will never be the same. Hence the name Physichromies, because they put into play the color of light, a physical color”.

In 1960, Carlos Cruz-Diez, who regularly travelled to Paris, permanently moved to ville lumiere, lured by developments in international abstraction. In those years, his research to reach a color’s autonomy from its material support gradually led him to build a very immersive environments and installations, the “Chromosaturations”, artificial habitats formed by three color chambers – red, green and blue – as an evolving situation in time and space, without the help of any kind of support. These cabins, isolating and dominating color, give to viewers a pure chromatic experience: “Color becomes a situation happening in space, without the help of form, or even a support, and free of cultural conventions”, as Cruz-Diez said.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Cromosaturaciòn, 1965-2019

Ten years later, the Venezuelan artist represented his homeland at the Venice Biennale, with a solo-exhibition that definitely cemented his artistic career.

In the ensuing decade, Cruz-Diez found the way to spread his art in the most varied fields. In fact, he offered his personal color’s vision for some special urban projects, such as monumental public artworks, building façades, landscape designs, and walkways. And fashion, too: since the artist collaborated for two Oscar Carvallo’s collections, and Prada paid homage to him in a series of Physichromie-inspired shop façades around the world.

“Cruz-Diez: El color hacièndose” exhibition

Inaugurated on June 23rd – and broke any record in the history of the museum –, the Cruz-Diez solo-show at MAC was curated by Arti Cruz and Cruz-Diez Art Foundation and paid a tribute to more than 60 years of artist’s career, recalling his works, his projects and his researches.

Thanks to 39 artworks, visitors were able to understand the originality of artist’s research around the color and his great contribution to kinetic art.

Thus, Cruz-Diez exhibition was designed as an experience journey through five interactive spaces.

“Learning lab”. It was a space conceived and organized to give visitors a more understandable vision of the theoretical and artistic projects and researches of Carlos Cruz-Diez.

“Obras tempranas”. Exhibition area dedicated to early artworks – specifically from 1960 to 1990 – of the artist and intended to show both the origin and the continuity and worth of Cruz-Diez's studies. For instance, here it was possible to see one of the earliest “Physichromie”, the “Physichromie No. 4, 1959” realized in casein on cardboard and wood. This work is composed of parallel multicolored slats, in cardboard, affixed to a support, revealing the changing effects and conditions inherent to color. The interaction of several chromatic event modules generates different “atmosphere of color” able to appear and disappear: despite its composition is such that the work never appears static.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Fisicromìa No. 4, 1959; Physichromie No. 247, 1966; Physichromie No. 331, 1967; Physichromie No. 578, 1967 Cromointerference Mecanique B12, 1970

In his “Physichromie”, Cruz-Diez pointed out that color should not be accepted as something definitive, but rather than it creates a subtle chromatic mesh that is constantly renewed and re-energized. As Carlos Cruz-Diez stated about that: “The colors evolve and transform in a perpetual presence, unlike traditional painting where color was applied once and remains unchanged, becoming a past event, not of the present”.

“Obras recientes”. Thanks to artworks made over the last ten years, in this space was so evident the bond between the artist and Panama, with its culture and territory.

"Arquitectura y espacio urbano". This area was dedicated to the architectural projects and public spaces realized by Carlos Cruz-Diez for different cities. Since one of the purpose of Cruz-Diez’s art is to expand the scope of human experience, grating it more complexity and subtleness, he was able to translate his ideas into public spaces, always achieving a perfect balance between the work and its surroundings. Classic examples are “Cromovela Cinta Costera III” realized in 2014 and “Kenex Plaza Cromoestructura” realized in 2016, both in Panama, of which there were scale models in the exhibition.

“Cromointerferencia”. In this space it was encouraged people’s participation and immersion in a pure chromatic experience. Here there were some of the most representative artworks and installations of Cruz-Diez, such as “Cromointerferencia mecanica nova 6”, “Chromosaturation”, “Duchas de Inducciòn Cromàtica” and “Ambiente Cromointerferente”.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Cromointerferencia Mecànica Nova 6, 1975-2016

“Chromosaturation” is an artificial environment composed by three color chambers: red, green and blue. On entering, the spectator is immersed in a “completely monochrome” reality; this activates and awakens notions of color in the viewer, who becomes aware of color’s material and physical existence.

A similar effect is given by “Duchas de Inducciòn Cromàtica” enable visitors to experience two different chromatic phenomena: subtractive color and chromatic induction.

Instead, “Ambiente Cromointerferente” is aimed to create a situation in space of immateriality, of transfiguration and ambiguity of color through motion. The projection of the chromatic event modules in contrast motion on objects, it looks like if they virtually change shape and condition.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Ambiente Cromointerferente, 1974-2019

Furthermore, the MAC in collaboration with Cruz-Diez Art Foundation organized a series of thematic workshops and seminars aimed to bring Cruz-Diez’s art closer to people, enabling them to grasp constitutive concepts of the artist's production.

Carlos Cruz-Diez exhibition at Dep Art Gallery

The same “Cromointerferencia mecanica nova 6”, displayed at the MAC of Panama, is on show at Dep Art Gallery in its last exhibition, titled “Carlos Cruz-Diez. Colore come evento di spazi” and curated by Francesca Pola. The solo-show, that runs till 21st January, 2020, traces the main steps of the Franco-Venezuelan artist’s journey through sixteen great works, highlighting the originality of his research, with works from five of his most significant series, as well as an interactive artwork specifically adapted for the spaces of the Milanese gallery.

The exhibition is completed by a catalogue in two languages – Italian and English – with a critical essay by Francesca Pola, published by Dep Art Gallery.

Carlos Cruz-Diez @ Dep Art Gallery 2019

Carlos Cruz-Diez @ Dep Art Gallery 2019

Dep Art Gallery