Spanning a wide range of pieces, including paintings, video, drawing and assemblages by the Colombian-Dutch artist Miguel Ángel Cárdenas, Andrea Rosen’s current exhibition offers a concise examination of the artist’s formal evolution and shifting compositional interests. Born and raised in Colombia, the artist moved to Amsterdam during the early 1960’s, offering his own interpretation of the threads of pop and conceptual practice dominating the conversations of European practice during the era.
Cárdenas’s work in the exhibition is impressively expansive, tracing an artist whose interest in evolving forms and techniques seemed to be at its peak during this era. Alternating quickly between assemblages and drawings, video works and paintings, the exhibition rarely stays in place for long, offering a look at the artist’s process and interlocking bodies of work from form to form. A series of drawings for instance, twisting what appears to be a human body into equally erotic and surreal forms, is countered by repeated formal motifs in a body of fluorescent paintings on aluminum. Taken together, the artist’s gradual alienation of the body from its original grounds becomes a readily apparent theme, tracing a similar sense of the mechanical and commercial as it transposes itself over the human body that defined much of the work of Marcel Duchamp.
Cárdenas’s embrace of these similar threads places him squarely in conversation with much of the European avant-garde of the era, finding a renewed vitality in the French artist’s body of work, particularly in his engagement with the body itself. His assemblage works, which frequently allude to human figures and actors despite their inorganic materials, offer a fitting indication of the artist’s move towards video and performance, a medium that allows him to extend examinations of the human form as a composite of body and media, technology and material moving beyond the limits of the form itself. Referred to as Tensions, these assemblages hint at suspended action, a form held in the midst of its reaction against its environment that finds a fitting echo in the looping video works nearby. Erotic energy and mechanical force are held in a constant suspension, allowing the artist’s sense of aesthetics to stand in as a perpetual negotiating force.
Considering these elements, the gallery’s focus on Cárdenas’s early career is particularly intriguing, a point where the artist’s unique creative energies branched out into a range of then emerging media practices, equally informed by the histories of his new home as he was by the new opportunities offered by the post-War arts community. This expansive vision speaks to Cárdenas’s impressive abilities as an artist, and the subtle impact he left on the art world around him.
The show is on view through February 4th.
— D. Creahan
Miguel Ángel Cárdenas at Andrea Rosen [Exhibition Site]