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"PATHS AND RAVINES" (Caminos Y Quebradas) by Eduardo Serrano



"Caminos Y Quebradas" 2008. Shoes, barbed wire, clay, rope and iron. 500 cm x 300 cm x 200 cm.

The piece presented to us by Carlos Chacín in the Colombo-French Alliance, "Paths and Ravines" is broadly illustrative of his interest in plastic arts. Its production is marked in that respect, as well as the type of thinking which, not only it was born from, but which also comes to life in the observer. His work, however, is not the product of a priori concepts or lengthy speculations, but instead from the signs or suggestions that images conjure up for him; images that can arise spontaneously from the drawings which he sometimes has on display in his installations, placed before his eyes by reality, or which might sprout from his imagination. As a result, in his case, the experience of the work itself cannot be replaced by abstract concepts nor speeches no matter how wise or timely they may be.


Chacín is an artist who was trained in Cuba and Italy and it is possible that the particularity of his work in the Colombian medium is due, in part, to the fact that here he can achieve a glimpse the universal artistic conception of the Caribbean that is identified with the Havana National Art School, Museums and Biennials in Europe. But, also in this context, his work is starkly particular, firstly because it is closely related to his physical and social, political and economic environment, i.e., with Colombia and with Santa Marta in particular, his birthplace and home.


"Paths and Ravines," for example, is a piece in which a large crutch is divided among a profusion of barbed wire holding a series of used shoes from children, men and women.  Because they are odd, they could refer to the land mines and other instruments of violence that this country has be subject to. The artist's intention, however, goes beyond making reference to specific circumstances or bearing witness to concrete facts. The purpose of this piece is not to criticise or complain, its intention is to provoke a contemplative reflection on the actions of violence against development, not only physical but of all kinds, which for an individual or for society means to go ahead and achieve purposes, reach expectations, or simply to survive.


The barbed wire is a reference to the landscape, the countryside, where many of the problems of the world today originate, while the sledgehammer or mallet that appears under the kind of raised mat formed by the shoes, is a reference, alike, to the violence and labour, coercion and self-denial, that is, to two of the extremes that characterise contemporary life. In fact, hypothetically dangerous tools such as the sledgehammer and machete repeatedly appear in his productions, and have become a sort of hallmark of his work, whilst supported by distinctively local features that refer to a global problem.


Chacín's exhibition could be defined as penetrable - it can pass only through the eyes, and as a repetition or a staging of the old maxim that says "we only think when confronted with a problem."



Eduardo Serrano

On Paths and Ravines, 2008.

Curator, historian and art critic.




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