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A Jungle in San Telmo

By Eduardo Villar Publicado,

Published in Ñ Magazine, Clarín Newspaper, in January 2018

At the new Calvaresi Gallery, Andrés Paredes once again evokes the landscapes of his childhood in Misiones, which he powers with artifice and an urban quality.  
Landscapes are not what Andrés Paredes shows in Artifice, the exhibition curated by Ana Martínez Quijano that inaugurated Calvaresi -a new art space in San Telmo- a few weeks ago.  However, the new works by Paredes are present on the first floor of the new gallery –pure concrete, brick, crystal and iron– depicting all the power and exuberance of the Parana jungle in Misiones, crucial during the artist’s childhood and in the heart of every aspect of his work. They are not landscapes, and it does not even seem appropriate to say that what appears in Paredes’s works is nature: what appears in them, what fills them with beauty and sense is his experience of the nature rooted in his memory, his emotions and his feelings. His animal and vegetal shapes also carry the remembrance of the infant universe, the special sonority of the Guarani language, the chats with his grandparents, the endless naps of the adults, the summer afternoons at the river and the games in the mud...
“For 15 years, I have explored a new, contemporary look at the Parana jungle in Misiones and how its universe is managed”, the artist says, and later adds: “I am currently exploring my personal archaeology and genealogy, I deal with my childhood memories and turn them into great participatory installations involving all the senses”. There is something in this exhibition by Paredes that differs from other recent ones, such as the one at the Arts Pavilion of the UCA in 2015, or at the CCK in 2016 -the evolution of an idea-, as well as Mutatis Mutandis & Memento Mori at Ungallery. This novelty is perceived even in the name of this exhibition at Calvaresi - Artifice. It is what we might call the “denaturalization” of the nature in his works. With his usual Baroque touch, Paredes places before our eyes the artificial in the bugs, orchids, lianas, roots and stems, the labyrinthine entanglements of vegetation, the animal and vegetal elements in the jungle, which seems to grow on the gallery walls. What we appreciate in this exhibition is a nature that appears to be urbanized or customized for the city, lathe cut and passed through the thousand filters of culture. According to curator Martínez Quijano: “In this exhibition, Andrés depicts an artificial, simulated nature filled with sweet colors, highlighted shapes, exuberant and full of subtleties… Cascades of orchids flow from the ceiling. He seeks to arouse the desire, satisfaction and pleasure of contemplation that grant the viewer that share of happiness that people need”.
It is somehow a controlled nature that nonetheless resists and rebels against said control: it protrudes from the gallery walls; it exceeds the painting plane to acquire the volume of real vines; as a giant butterfly, it brightly hovers over our heads in the gallery space; the thick white frames of the artificially mono-chromatic vegetal entanglement paintings seem to have been manufactured with the purpose of containing the strength of the shapes inside them, as if these epoxy light-blue or purple shapes could be made of constantly reproducing cells.

A certain encounter, a certain struggle, or at least a certain negotiation between the natural and the urban can be discovered in Paredes’s exhibition. We might even assert that this negotiation matches - and not randomly- the movement in the life of the artist, who recently started a workshop in the neighborhood of La Boca and thus divides his life and worktime between the city of Buenos Aires and Apostoles, his home town.