Laura Bartlett presents a solo exhibition of new work by Sol Calero (b. 1982, Caracas), dedicated, as the title suggests, entirely to painting. “Solo Pintura” will feature ten new works by the Venezuelan artist, which continue to investigate issues of nationality and identity construction – themes at the core of her practice.
Embracing the style and pictorial vocabulary of a culture misrepresented, these paintings are bounty rich in tropicália – bursting with fruits, plants and ‘exotica’ – restrained only by the hand-painted frames that contain them. Vibrant colours spool from canvas to wall, as Calero connects the areas of the gallery by painting the walls in pastel shades of green, yellow, pink and peach. The effect reminds us of her previous installations, which embrace a kind of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total work of art) sensibility. These past installations have included the construction of internet cafes, beauty salons, telenovela sets, salsa dance schools, Caribbean houses and most recently a Bureau de change – all spaces that encourage an exchange of ideas, both domestic and social and allow Calero to address issues of place-making and identity. Caleros paintings function within them to bring a sense of the domestic just as now they evoke an inside/outside dichotomy.
Calero uses pictorial repeats to mimic tiled floors, wallpaper, blinds and vases – creating at once, an interior and exterior environment. The works display an architectural awareness, as the corners of walls meet floors, tables and windows; any symmetry, however, is lost to the intrusion of abrupt patterns and broken borders that steer the works towards abstraction. We see new motifs at work in this series, such as the slatted Venetian blind, which filters and urges the viewer to read between the lines. The surface is accentuated in the larger works by the inclusion of small mosaic tiles which bring a new texture to Calero’s paintings, adding to the patches of table cloth puzzling below, reminiscent of the wall coverings and upholstery for which she is also known. The message is bright and persistent: there are layers to these works, as there are to an individual and a nation.