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Paredes: The Paraná Mud - Matter for the Modelling of Memories 

By Ana Martinez Quijano
 Ámbito Financiero Journal, February 2015

The artist Andrés Paredes (1979) has come from his native Misiones to the Recoleta Cultural Center to present “Memorious Mud”, an exhibition curated by the cultural operator from Rosario Roberto Echen. The sculptural mud-modeled volumes govern this exhibition. New shapes leave behind the laces that Paredes cut for so many years, as well as the trunks and butterflies, plants and insects that have surrounded him since he was born.   


When you enter the hall you can see –half way between the floor and the ceiling– certain mud domes that have round windows and holes on their base. These holes allow the viewer to see inside and access the dome.  Once inside, s/he is surrounded by surreal landscapes. Some rock formations rise amid the ossuary bones. All –or most of– the installation is made of the thick materiality of mud, a grey and opaque magma interrupted by the magical golden light of some rocks. The mud-modeled skulls are scattered amidst plants and the disconcerting butterfly and cicada wings tidily laid in lines to form perfect swaths, like the crosses in a graveyard. 


The installation looks like an archaeological site from a remote place and time, and even the freezing white light stresses this feature. The nature of the work is configured by mud, the essential matter used by God to model Adan and that has accompanied the history of man to this day.   However, the artist does not refer to a “potter” God nor to the origin of the world, but to his own life, to a near past. When talking about his work, closely linked to a childhood he refuses to give up, he mentions the names of the animals he had and remembers his grandfather. 


The external part of the domes have a roundish shape, similar to breasts full of milk emerging among high pinnacles. With true naivety, Paredes describes the inside: “In the inside there are memories of all my beloved ones who are no longer physically with me.  I remember moments of happiness, animals, the monkey, horses, precious stones and thousands of transparent wings”. Echen says that with this exploration by Paredes " a history of the truth in facts comes into play”, since, as we all know, memory is usually selective. 


The installation somehow reminds us of the story called “Feeling in Death”, where our “unavoidable” (the adjective belongs to Roberto Echen) Borges describes an afternoon when he gets lost amidst streets of mud and, when depicting a place as phantasmal as it is idealized and hidden where he felt “eternity”, he comments:  " I do not want to represent in this way my neighborhood, the very realm of childhood. [...] The walk left me at a street corner. I took in the night, in perfect, serene respite from thought. The vision before me, not at all complex to begin with, seemed further simplified by my fatigue. Its very ordinariness made it unreal. It was a street of one-story houses, and through its first meaning was poverty, its second was certainly bliss. It was the poorest and most beautiful thing. The houses faced away from the street; a fig tree merged into shadow over the blunted street corner, and the narrow portals--higher than the extending lines of the walls--seemed wrought of the same infinite substance as the night. The sidewalk was embanked above a street of elemental dirt, the dirt of a still unconquered America. In the distance, the road, by then a country lane, crumbled into the Maldonado River. Against the muddy, chaotic earth, a low, rose-colored wall seemed not to harbor the moonlight but to shimmer with a gleam all its own. Tenderness could have no better name than that rose color.". 


Paredes sculptures are made in mud from the Paraná River and, according to the exhibition curator:  “it is not about showing us dinosaurs (by the way, Paredes does not show us dinosaurs) “as if” they were here moving around their habitat (it is not a science museum nor a film that tries to make us believe we are there) but a possibly contemporary scenario for something that dates back as much as we want, the remains of a script that depicts us from the script of our possibility to remember." The music that is heard at times was written by Marissa González. 


As Paredes penetrates these caves, he also penetrates the depths of his own life. The artist lives and works in Apóstoles where, like Gauguin in Tahiti, he has his own tropical paradise. The domes erected at one and a half meters from the floor seem to float between the earth and the sky, and this distance stresses the surreal trait of the exhibition. In the background, far from this original womb, there is the world, there is life. 


Last year, Paredes got a lucky break: He gathered a few dollars from some sales and invested them in a study trip. He filled his eager eyes with universal art and, when he returned, he managed to see and work with something that he already had in him when he departed –mud and earth. 

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