Mario CarreñoAjedrez, 1974
Bronze sculpture, 67 x 20 x 20 cm.
A Threshold: Carreño
Art History usually inquires abstract artistic practices from a reaction to an excessive subjectivism on the part of artists who try to distance themselves from the purely emotional. These artists, meaning those who are geometrical abstracts, focus themselves on the laws of geometry and mathematics to simplify the forms to their most elementary and generic presentation. An artist like Mario Carreño, who passed through various stages and aesthetic vicissitudes –according to the demand of his intellectual scrutiny– arts in none of his periods could be dubbed as a pure form or else.
In particular, his incursion into abstraction and his interaction with our most outstanding abstract artists, such as Sandú Darié, Luis Martínez Pedro, Pedro de Oraá, Loló Soldevilla, among other, listed him with the so-called Concretes within a search for a universal and utopian aesthetic that, in its pretended political circumspection, offered a new form of political and social participation. In the case of Mario Carreño, I would add sensitive. The advent of abstraction in the artist’s creative processes leads to the consolidation of a new sensibility never reduced exclusively to simple planes and colors.
A work like Ajedrez (Chess) does not convey me to the fullest abstraction, almost as if the codes of abstraction were nothing more than an aesthetic justification with greater allegorical goals. Carreño is well acquainted with art and its representational endowments (given the fact that he was never able to sneak into it while turning around social and political circumstances); hence, he has never remained on this line longer than required. Thus, the abstraction in Carreño’s this kind of work moves along aesthetic dimensions forked by knowledge and mastery of abstract environment, as well as the respect for a full figuration.
The rooks play rising in an exquisite multiplicity of forms makes me think of a cathedral of art worship, rather than chess alone. It seems as if Carreño moves along his sculpture towards the gothic conception of a cathedral as the space of a summa of knowledge. Indeed, that is it. The mastery of a craft embraces a monumentality in Ajedrez that surpasses by far the real format of this work. The observer witnesses the displacement and metamorphosis of forms that rise and capriciously overlap themselves. However, in the midst of such arbitrariness there is a thorough study of composition. Mario Carreño creates perfect rhythms, an unprecedented geometric harmony. Then Ajedrez certainly belongs to a game of knowledge, where wisdom consists of just an accurate displacement of a perfect execution of styles. Perhaps that is precisely where Carreño’s checkmate lies.
–Modesto D. Serpa