'Construcción de futuros', Ricardo Calero

Artist: Ricardo Calero
Dates: April 14th to May 25th, 2018
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The necessary natural / The nurturing of thought

Alejandro J. Ratia

One of Ricardo Calero’s characteristics is his ability to evolve without forgetting. Rather than replacing each other, each of his evolutions adds to what came before: the reflections which materialised (and dematerialised) in the 1980s, his dialogues with silence in the 1990s, and his subsequent development of listening mechanisms, focus on memory, and activation of consciousness. He also continues to add to the geographies where he intervenes and with which he engages. Paradoxically this diachronic coherence, this focus on how things change over time, is reinforced through a transversal duality. After a certain point in time, Ricardo Calero begins to employ a dichotomy to define his work: “Natural Exterior” and “Natural Interior”. This refers to two ways of working, and two areas for completing this work. His “exterior” refers to interventions in specific places where Nature has a manifest presence. These spaces have included, for example, Mount Taunus in Germany, the river Guadalaviar in Albarracín, the Monegros desert, the sea off the coast of Cabo de Gata, and Il luogo della Natura in Bolognano, Italy. Added to these are the Alpine locations near Quincy that he shared with his friend John Berger. His “interior” alludes to the work carried out in his workshop, but also to his own body and the very essence of what it is to be human, whether this links directly or otherwise to the artistic endeavour.

The works he is presenting at Ponce + Robles are also related to other recent projects, such as his nomadic sculptures. “Espacio de pensamientos” (“Space for Thoughts”) is a kind of carriage-house that toured Portuguese landscapes during the Alentejo Triennial, and which was later installed next to the Bad Vilbel library building (Germany) on the occasion of the “Blickachsen 11” Biennial. This mobile structure provided a sheltered space for dialogue. Ricardo Calero’s final concerns include communication and the concept of spaces of proximity. These concepts can help us to understand the works occupying the gallery. Some of his new sculptures are made of wicker. They are living containers – welcoming spaces – that offer a brief inquiry, providing us with a language “seed” to read. The nomadic carriage-house previously alluded to had a roof, however it was perforated by words, meaning that it provided protection but in permeable form. That is to say, it was the meaning that protected us, not the structure. The braided wickerwork also allows that which it shelters so sweetly to breathe. In addition, there is not just one, but a succession of containers, which invites us to think about a collective task, as does the motif of scale which reappears in this same exhibition.

In these works, it is important to appreciate the sequence of materials. Wicker is succeeded by ceramic, and ceramic by wood or metal, each of which contributes its properties, its flexibility, its hardness, its plasticity, its symbolic quality, to a brief history of artisanal raw materials. This concludes in a light-coloured substance which is nevertheless formalised through signs (letters, words), like the ringing of a bell, vibrating with possibility – a conditional SI (YES), an interpellation, a DI (SPEAK) waiting to be uttered. The artist intervenes, incorporating a light, unifying layer of flour and plaster, elements that speak of food and protection. The colour white adds an element of purity, a constructive concept.

These works make up the series that Calero calls “the necessary natural”. In dialogue with them are other pieces which invite the “nurturing of thought”. These are the works that are most directly related to an encounter with the Other. Words, recovered from speech, are returned to a being that is closer to nature. They are healed and taken care of, just as we saw happen in the case of personal relationships and memory. Files are preserved, and encourage the creation of new content. The vigil of the box files appears at the threshold of consciousness. Nestled inside blue envelopes like messenger pigeons are the ideas and desires of Calero’s friends, of his neighbours in Fuendetodos (where he has his workshop), who he invites to contribute their own dreams. If Ricardo Calero once investigated the blinding whiteness of silence, over time he has come to redirect his reflections towards communication. Even within his silence, the particles of language never completely disappeared. And what he proposes now is a construction “of words”. He leaves the words “Building spaces of the future from thoughts”. He uses verbs like just one more material, flexible and participatory. Like wicker.

In one of his hymns, Hölderlin calls for those who speak for language. Ricardo Calero would appear to be one such person. He also coincides with the poet in his consideration of silence as the prelude to useful speech, and the choral condition of existence. The existence of “you” is among the ontological conditions of being “me”. Increasingly in his works, the voices of others are what it is important to perceive. Particularly significant are those works in which a collector retrieves some letters, and returns them to their box file, to what would be the house of language. The elements that make up these series are not an end in themselves; spaces are created insofar as they can be accommodating. The artist himself offers himself as an instrument. This is the reason that he defines them as “sculptures of the memory”.

RICARDO CALERO (1955, Villanueva del Arzobispo, Jaén)

Ricardo Calero works with an open concept of art. His works, actions and interventions are developed fundamentally around two key concepts that unify his work: “Natural Exterior” and “Natural Interior”.

Among his artistic concepts, he emphasises those presented in: Espacios del sentir, AUBES3935 gallery, Montreal. Ausencias, Calart gallery, Geneva. Memorias del Olvido, Naviglio gallery, Milan. Auras del silencio, Scheffel gallery, Bad Homburg, Germany. Nada, Provincial Council of Huesca, Huesca. Luz en la sombra, Joan Prats-Artgràfic gallery, Barcelona. Diálogos, Raquel Ponce gallery, Madrid. Disparates, Continuidad de un proyecto inacabado, Academies of Spain, Rome and the Villa Pisani National Museum, Venice. Posetilosti, Gallery Museum of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic. Continuity of an Unfinished Project, Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington. Ricardo Calero, Disparates, University of Montreal, Canada. Grabado Tiempo, University Assembly Halls, Zaragoza.

In the field of actions and installations, inter alia he has been involved with specific projects in: La Transparence, George Pompidou Centre for Contemporary Art, Cajarc, France. De blancos, vacíos y silencios, Telefónica Foundation, Madrid. Blickachsen 3, Sculptures in the Spa Park, Bad Homburg. Germany. Latidos del tiempo, Palace of La Lonja, Zaragoza and Museum of San Telmo, San Sebastián. Neue Kunst in Alten Gärten, Gehrden-Lenthe, Germany. An die Natur, Altana Culture Foundation, Bad Homburg, Sinclair House. Germany. Del Alba, Albarracín, Teruel. Blickachsen 4, Sculptures in the Spa Park, Bad Homburg, Germany. III Bienal Arte Contemporáneo, ONCE Foundation, Madrid. Los pasos, from the House to the Museum of Goya, Fuendetodos. XI Bienal Internacional de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador. Viva Internetional Video Art, Caixa Forum, Madrid. Blickachsen 9, International Biennial, Bad Homburg-Frankfurt, Germany. Sueños en el mar, Assembly Rooms of the Provincial Council of Huesca. Trienal no Alentejo, Portugal.