Organized in partnership with the Otero Pardo Foundation of Caracas, Venezuela, the exhibition Alejandro Otero: Rhythm in Line and Space at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino highlights works from his Cafeteras (Coffeepots), Tablones (Planks), and Coloritmos (Colorhythms) series, among others, offering a glimpse into the dynamic practice of this master artist (Venezuela, 1921-1990).

Although this exhibition cannot show any of these structures on a public scale, except in images, it does exhibit the artist’s preparatory process that gave rise to them. Following a rigorous methodology, Otero, when producing paintings or sculptural works, always began with drawings, sketches or models, before making the final work a reality.

Of note are the small, beautiful sketches that Otero carried out for his Coloritmos (Colorhythms) and Tablones (Planks), some of which can be seen in this exhibition. For this occasion, it also presents some examples of the numerous drawings that the artist made between 1967 and 1985, whether as preparations for urban-scale sculptures, or as mere exercises, but which in any case show the skill, beauty and graphic freedom that Otero achieved as a draughtsman.

Installation view: Alejandro Otero: Rhythm in Line and Space at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, 2019, Houston, Texas. Image courtesy of the gallery
Installation view: Alejandro Otero: Rhythm in Line and Space at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, 2019, Houston, Texas. Image courtesy of the gallery

As the critic María Elena Ramos has written: “Although many of these designs are an essential guide for the technical work that will later turn them into sculptures, they aren’t easily confused with architect or engineer sketches. There are examples that remind us of the drawings of the machines invented by Leonardo da Vinci, with both artists moved by the freedoms of fantasy and the talent to invent mechanisms.”

When looking at many of these drawings with their agile and expressive strokes, of exquisite graphic quality, one might think, as the above-mentioned writer, that: “not all of these creations deserve to be called ‘preparatory’, but that they are also aesthetic spaces in their own right.”

We could think the same about the scale models of impeccable construction and perfect operation, some of which are shown here. “Hopefully, this small selection from the vast opus of Otero serves to whet the public’s appetite so that the viewer will further investigate the magnificent and diverse painterly and sculptural work and be encouraged to enjoy the unique experience of contemplating some of the majestic solar structures, invented in the 20th century and projected into the future, by Alejandro Otero, painter, sculptor, multifaceted creator and teacher.”, a press release states.

On the rare occasion on which it is possible to admire the most important series of works produced by Otero in an anthological format, one can see that constant search and experimentation fueled his prolific activity. Rather than a seamless transition from one style to another, often it is rupture and risk that characterize his relentless quest for new techniques and modes of expression. Frequent criticism by the press only encouraged Otero to further refine the theory present in his extensive journalistic and epistolary legacy. Otero’s vision and persistence allowed him to bring Venezuelan art to the forefront of the international movement toward modernist abstraction.

Installation view: Alejandro Otero: Rhythm in Line and Space at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, 2019, Houston, Texas. Image courtesy of the gallery
Installation view: Alejandro Otero: Rhythm in Line and Space at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, 2019, Houston, Texas. Image courtesy of the gallery

After graduating from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Artes Aplicadas de Caracas, Otero had been living in Paris when he met artist Mercedes Pardo in 1949. They were married in 1951, and that same year Otero joined a group of European artists and intellectuals and founded the artistic group Los Disidentes (The Dissidents). He quickly emerged as the leader of the movement, influencing a generation of artists and earning his status as the pioneer of a new visual language. In 1952, Otero and Pardo returned to Caracas where he began working with other visionaries including Gego, Jesús-Rafael Soto, and Carlos Cruz-Diez.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, with texts by Rafael Romero D. and Juan Ignacio Parra S., who published the catalogue raisonné on Otero’s Coloritmos series in 2018 after two decades of collaborative research.

Installation view: Alejandro Otero: Rhythm in Line and Space at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, 2019, Houston, Texas. Image courtesy of the gallery

ALEJANDRO OTERO: RHYTHM IN LINE AND SPACE

Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, 1506 W. Alabama St. Houston, Texas, U.S.A

October 25, 2019 – January 16, 2020