In a beautiful solo exhibition of new work, “From Figure to Color,” on view at Bogota’s Beatriz Esguerra Art, Colombian painter Carolina Convers shares her ongoing experimentation and transition between figurative and abstract art. Using bright colors and reductivist compositions, Convers translates the formal qualities of her earlier paintings into a new and exciting body of work about the female body.
Convers’ recent paintings have evolved from an interest in the female form. Prior works, such as Pretendientes, Turquoise Background (all 2014), depicted repeated female figures in a style that alluded to Andy Warhol, with bright colors, gestural lines, photographic imagery, an interest in fashion (as in Warhol’s 1962-64 screenprint on paper dress, Open this end),and serialized prints combined with acrylic paint. Executed in a bright, poppy palette—lemony greens, scarlet, emerald, and apricot—Convers’ newer work removes the figurative elements. The young women in fashionable dresses from decades past are extracted from these works, leaving only their dresses, or even just their suggestion. These are reminiscent of Yves Klein’s “Anthropometries,” in which the artist used nude models as brushes, applying their paint-covered bodies to canvas. Convers’ paintings resemble Klein’s scumbled physicality, tracing the imagined imprint of a pencil skirt or blouse against a ground in complementary colors.
Convers’ paintings fall somewhere in the overlapping circles of a dress pattern, a figure study, and an abstract meditation on color theory. In From Figure to Color 5 (2014) the artist makes that blend of allusions particularly apparent: the square painting’s aqua ground is a stage for several shapes in lilac, Mars red, and gray, which float across the picture plane. Some refer to the shapes of dresses and camisoles, while other linear elements seem to connote limbs and bodies in poses similar to the women in her previous series. In the vertically oriented From Figure to Color 2 (2014) the shape of a grayish-blue dress threatens to dissolve as brush strokes into the scarlet background. The more restrictive, but no less vibrant, color combination relies on Convers’ careful study of movement, here mimicking both the static flatness of a dress pattern and the flowing grace of a woman walking.
Convers shares her minimal-but-allusive style with fellow Beatriz Esguerra artist Luz Helena Caballero, who paints bouquets of wildflowers in acrylic or with unconventionally stained handmade paper. Both navigate the new global aesthetic territory of knitting abstraction with representational imagery, while subtly injecting their works with references to 20th century Latin American masters of abstraction, including Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark.
“From Figure to Color: Recent Works by Carolina Convers” is on view at Beatriz Esguerra Art, Bogota, Aug. 14th–Sept. 4th, 2014.