The Presentation of Landscape
Art Week at Dorado Beach
The vast majority of historians agree that Land Art emerges contemporarily, by the late sixties, in the United States and Great Britain. However, not everyone agrees on the reasons that prompted a group of young artists to abandon the art galleries and the traditional art spaces to work in places far from the great metropolises, and directly with natural elements and the landscape. For some, it was a response to the artistic trend of the moment, to “the technological formalism of minimal art¨1, or a reaction to Pop art, ¨which rejected tradition to encompass the urban culture¨2. Or, still more radical, they thought of it as ¨part of a revolt against painting, sculpture, and the anti formalist trend of the late sixties, which included conceptual art and ¨Povera¨ art¨3. From a less contrasting perspective and in search of historical continuity, some critics considered that: ¨Land Art can be included in the Northern romantic tradition that Robert Rosenblum traces from the works of artists like Caspar David Friedrich and William Turner to current art¨4. Others even searched for more remote precedents: Stonehenge, Angkor Wat and the pre-Colombian funeral mountains5.
What has remained clear from the beginning is its close relation with nature, not only in romantic or metaphysical terms, but also in symbolic & ecological ones. Notwithstanding, changes in the course of forty years of this monumental expression of the plastic arts have been radical. The most important of these has been, precisely, the gradual distancing of the natural scenarios to seek the urban settings. This displacement led to an emphasis on the architectonic, which prompted John Beardsley, one of its most important historians, to recur to definitions such as: public landscape and urban landscape6.
The three proposals comprising this project renew the bond with the naturalistic origin of this artistic expression, decidedly in symbolic terms, essentially and manifestly environmental, consonant with a contemporary aesthetical and post historic trend allowing for greater expressive liberty, far from the historicist classifications.
María Elena Perales, with the sculpture Gota de lluvia, magnifies and stops the liquid immediately at the time it is to impact the surface of the water, calling our attention to that ¨blue gold¨7 scarce in many places of the world subjected to the threat of rampant industrialization. The un-relentlessness of this sublimated drop, of this reminder, will prevail under natural light as well as during the nights.
El árbol prohibido by Rafael Trelles is a red and dry tree in the middle of the water. A presence loaded with mythological references, archetypical, but above all, theological–allusive to the biblical content–alerting us from the past, of the future. It is about a call to reflection as asserted by the artist about our endangered natural environment; ¨The human being has disobeyed and is at the verge of expulsion from his only paradise¨.
The work by Dhara Rivera presents a relationship with the environment established through memory or the ¨acknowledgement of her historic-geographic memory¨. In essence, the piece is an homage to the tree that dominated the coasts of the Caribbean, hence the location of its exhibition: the Pterocarpus Officinalis. The artist encapsulates its miniature image in glass spheres placed in the water by a group of people ¨in order and silence¨, with all of the action documented in video. The spheres intertwine through a weaving of fibers, creating a net allusive to a respectful and symbolic exchange between the past and the present.
To summarize, the works are a reminder, a call to reflection and a tribute to nature by these three renowned artists.
Juan Carlos López Quintero
Curator, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
1 Guasch, Ferrer y Carrasco, Javier Hernando., Arte del siglo XX de la segunda guerra mundial hasta nuestros días, Espasa, Madrid, 2003, p. 234.
2 Dempsey, Amy., Estilos, Escuelas y Movimiento, Guía enciclopédica del arte moderno, Blume, Barcelona, España, 2002, p. 260.
3 The Dictionary of Art, volume 18, Macmillan Publishers Limited, New York, USA, 1996, p.694.
4 Schneckenburger, Manfred., Arte del siglo XX, Volumen II, Taschen, Barcelona, España, 2005, p. 543.
5 H.H. Arnason., History of Modern Art: Painting, Scupture, Architecture, Photography, 5 th Edition, London, England, 2004, p. 612.
6 Beardsley, John., Earthworks and beyond contemporary art in the landscape, Abbevile Press, New York, 1998.
7 From hereon, quotations pertain to the documentary content presented by the artists to the event organizers.