Carlos Estévez's "Images of Thought"

November 5, 2009. Estévez's Work Brilliantly Illuminates the Complex Relation of Art to Thought. Thirty-two works, covering all aspects of Carlos Estévez's artistic practice beginning in 1992 and ending in 2009, are included in Carlos Estévez's Images of Thoughts. Botellas al mar is an ongoing installation comprised of eighty-three drawings in the style of illuminated medieval manuscripts, seventeen of which the artist has inserted into bottles and thrown out to sea. The artist tentatively plans to throw one of these bottles into the Niagara Gorge, while he is here for the exhibition. The show is curated by Jorge J. E. Gracia, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature.

The exhibition will run until February 6, 2010, in the first-floor gallery of UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, North Campus. It is free and open to the public. The exhibit is accompanied by a book published by SUNY Press, Images of Thought: Philosophical Interpretations of Carlos Estévez's Art (2009), by Jorge J. E. Gracia. The book contains eighteen full-color images accompanied by interpretive essays, as well as an interview with the artist.

Carlos Estévez is a Cuban-born artist currently residing in Miami whose art has attracted substantial attention in Europe, the United States, and Latin America, where it is found in major public and private collections. The range of the work extends from sculptures and installations to oil and acrylic paintings on canvas and paper, drawings on paper, assemblages, collages, and combinations of these. Estévez works with traditional materials, but has also incorporated non-traditional elements into his art, such as bottles, dolls, and gadgets he finds in rummage sales and flea markets.

The UB Art Gallery is funded by the UB College of Arts and Sciences, the Visual Arts Building Fund, the Seymour H. Knox Fine Arts Fund, and the Fine Arts Center Endowment. This exhibition was partly funded by the Samuel P. Capen Chair in Philosophy and Comparative Literature. The Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am - 5pm, and Thursday, 11 am - 7pm.

For information, please call 716-645-0568.

About Carlos Estévez' Work

Unlike many Cuban artists, Estévez is not explicitly concerned with Cuba, Cuban history, or Cuban culture. That he does not explore the ethnic elements of Cuban traditional art or engage in commentary on the social situation of Cubans does not mean that his work is completely estranged from Cuban artistic traditions. His art displays some important continuities with the history of Cuban art in the extensive use of drawing and in the display of a certain cleverness, irony, and play.

Estévez has a special interest in machines, wheels, balloons, and animals of various sorts, and his humans are usually puppets. He aims at pushing the boundaries of the imagination, while using wheels, pulleys, and levers to explore the nature of the world that surrounds us, and in particular the world of the mind and our emotions. His art is a laboratory of sorts, an observation platform. The mind behind the work is as fascinated with new discoveries as that of Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists and explorers. This quality accounts in part for the philosophical character of Estévez's creations. Every piece seems to have a philosophical twist, to pose a conceptual puzzle, to present a controversial view, to reveal an existential predicament, or to reveal an intuition about humans and their predicaments.

In addition to his philosophical ruminations, Estévez explores the psychological make up of humans and their relationships and idiosyncrasies. In many ways, the art is child-like in that it has a playful, ingenious character associated with our early lives. And, indeed, he describes some of his pieces as toys. But the work is also scientific in its clever engineering feats, and it always displays a deep curiosity and insight into the world and humanity. We are asked to look at it and ponder, as children do in a puppet show, fascinated by the possibilities opening before our eyes.

The modern and archaic, the avant-garde and traditional, the conceptual and formal, and the strong and delightful combine in Estévez's art to draw the observer into a world of wonder. And, although the art seems to be driven by ideas, it makes no statements. Its inherent ambiguity leads to questions rather than answers, a reason why it eminently serves as an instrument of philosophical reflection.



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