By Alicia Menises
“Where does art emerge? It springs from the need the mind has to sculpt the sensory realm. What does art do for us? It shapes and makes our emotions visible and, while doing so, it gives them that eternity hallmark works of art carry to embody the universe of human affections through a particular shape.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Urchin, Seix Barral, 2007, pg. 225.
This is an artist that loves working with matter, who does fretwork on paper handling the cutter as if it were a paintbrush, who uses his hands to model an atypical material such as epoxy to create huge butterflies, dragonflies, cicadas, who reshapes these insects by directly intervening their environment, whether by adding more wings and/or providing them with wings that are not theirs, and, finally, who creates intimate landscapes using kilos of “ñau” mud that he himself takes from the Parana River bank.
He is Andrés Paredes -from Apóstoles, in the province of Misiones- and, based on a European technique called sherenscfhnitt or papel cortado, he managed to create his own visual language when he expanded to a third dimension and transposed it to other materials. This visual language allowed him to configure a whole new way to tell, show and feel the nature that constantly beats and echoes in him. The nature that both nurtured his childhood plays and became a source of permanent curiosity, search and discovery when he used his physician father’s microscope to analyze all sorts of leaves, seeds, flowers and insects. This nature, which was the great backyard of his house, was also the home of different animals: dogs, geese, hens, coatis, monkeys and horses.
His artistic proposal results from continuous and reflexive work where exploring techniques, searching for shape, and continuously and thoroughly questioning have outlined the difficult craft of creating visual objects that do not attempt to describe this past but that result from putting into act memories filled with emotions and happiness through suggestions, innuendos, remains. The Coconut Tree, Dampness, Coconut Cascade, Lisimnias, Rainforest Mocayá, Emerging from the Earth, Taking Off.
In Gurí, the 2013 exhibition at the Palatina Gallery, his vegetation labyrinthine weavings cut in paper held dissected butterflies, MDF columns strengthened the rainforest thickness with arbors in turn used by large-scale cicadas, dragonflies and butterflies to rest before their flights.
In the adult vision of his memories, the choice of these insect was not casual; the three of them share the same growing, differentiation and moulting or exoskeleton process and it is here where the artist based his great metaphor on the likelihood of change, understood as a transformation towards a different, new and renewed future.
The Exuvia, the skin left by insects once their differentiation process is completed, is the evidence that something has changed, and gave the name to his next work. An installation where different objects taken once again from his father’s medical office, together with a thick real vegetation, the “bugs”, the zenith light and the music specially composed for the event, all form a staging that may only be seen through cuts made on such skin, which hanged from the ceiling to the floor. The abandoned skin gives proof that something happened that allowed this being to continue his growth and lifecycle development. Stimulating the visitor’s curiosity, spying through the fretwork, stopping and pausing while watching this environment filled with feelings, memories and emotions, were all part of the experience the artist seeks to cause with his works.
Paredes comes from Misiones, his place in the world, and he reveals this when he proposes a poetic approach to a collective experience that is typical of the area, the condition of being Migrants. A typical condition of living creatures, it involves the movement and decision-making that hold the longing for a change that carries premises such as choice, adaptation, assimilation or transformation for life continuity. The work evokes a natural space, the virgin rainforest and its progressive transformation into a land fit for farming, while huge butterflies hover over the hall.
Both in Exuvia and in Migrants, his own language and works that refer to an everyday and past life experience are the result of infinite layers of senses that build memories, the memories of those that in some moment were determined to migrate.
In Memorious Mud –which is a sort of vanitas- based on his most emotional experiences, the artist exposes the briefness of life in a tender but judgmental way. Life repeats and reproduces itself, life is a sort of anonymous force, life is also fragile and is inhabited by death.
The reflection on life’s transient condition is staged in an installation that, due to its formal characteristics, lays in space for a while to later disappear. It consists of mud domes with biomorphic elements on the outside and oculi that allow to look inside. Located a meter and a half from the floor, they offer a new possibility to the viewer –getting into them through the base and viewing all the surfaces with their accidents, cracks, textures; smelling the flowery scent and listening to the music under a warm light that completes the visual trip. It is here where the spectacular quality starts by giving a completely new viewpoint to time and memory traces. From the earth that comes alive with water emerge tiny pinnacles with organic shapes, plants, iridescent semi-precious stones, butterflies and skulls from his dearest ancestors and pets.
At the end of the exhibition presented at UNGALLERY in April 2017, a climax of the senses occurs when the viewer gets involved in the whole work. Visitors are surrounded by mud, since both the floor and walls share its color and smell, while a soft light allows them to glimpse four glass “capsules” that work as a mememto mori. Now, the semi-precious stones, skulls and butterflies cease to be theirs to become a sentence of our own clumsy vanity.