Sol Calero

Archivos Olvidados
ChertLüdde, Berlin
Opening reception 26 April 2019, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
26 April – 15 June 2019

For her first exhibition at ChertLüdde, Sol Calero presents a project in tribute to her late grandmother Luisa Hernandez. A pillar of the family, Hernandez (known familially as “Abuli”) lived between her home in Caracas and her farm in Los Llanos, the flatlands of Venezuela, where she became an important member of the community, opening up her house for the local children to learn in classes, decorate the house and participate in social meetings. After raising her six children alone as a widow, she enrolled at the Escuela de Artes Cristóbal Rojas in Caracas and began to study fine art. Calero spent a large part of her childhood taking part in the organic learning process of her grandmother where art and craftsmanship became indivisible from a familial and social structure that allowed for and celebrated the collective aspect of art-making and understanding. The central subject matter of the exhibition is the most recent archive of her grandmother, who collected images from magazines as references for her paintings. These last clippings represent a body of work left unfinished upon Hernandez’s death, picked up and elaborated upon by Calero.

The gallery space presents itself as a trajectory of Calero’s process of approaching the archive, beginning with an intimate room of child-size proportions, where the original images that Abuli used as references for her paintings 

are displayed. In the same room, Calero has undertaken a drawing exercise taught to her by her grandmother: draw 

a line, then another one to close it into a shape, and fill the space with color. Covering the entire space with the gestural freedom that children naturally possess, Calero repeats the ritual of her childhood spent drawing with her grandmother. On the paintings in this room, Calero leaves chalk marks on the blackboard canvases as visible remnants of her attempts to draw horses for the first time. 

In the following room, the paintings depart from Calero’s usual visual language to feature fragmented compositions referring to the newspaper clippings of Hernandez. Including motifs such as horses, fruits and landscapes, the paintings contain bits of the archive and anecdotes of her childhood. This room leads to another which Calero has transformed into a patio: a place where visitors can gather and sit together, activating the social element of a space. The walls here are painted with a mural of pastel colors, decorative patterns and fruit motifs based on a sketch from the archive.

Behind this colorful façade lies the ambiguity that comes with trying to piece together memories, how selective the action of recollection can be, and the limitations of our efforts to capture the past. In the context of Venezuelan society, where culture is rapidly disappearing, the mural represents the smoothing out of events and the subsequent glossing over of history in favor of external narratives of a people’s culture. Yet the process from archive to social space, in the gathering of people where they can speak, the word of mouth and community carries the potential to preserve the past. In the same manner, Calero undertakes the exercise of remembering over and over again, in the re-experiencing and interpreting of deeply rooted memories, in hopes for a revisitation of a history that is only personal on the surface.

In recent years, Sol Calero has developed a body of all-immersive installations that bring her pictorial exploration to a spatial and contextual level. With painting at the core of her practice, her investigation looks back to non-canonical, traditional and popular art forms excluded from western art history. In looking at how Latin American cultures are perceived and exploited, her work faces the spectator with the processes of exoticism inherent to the imagery 

and narratives of the cultural other. Under a festive and luminous appearance, Calero questions the production of standards and clichéd iconography with a singular and consistent presentation of abstracted tropicalism. In the form of paintings or objects, her patterns, floral and fruit shapes are mixed with elements of vernacular architecture, claiming self-construction as a medium of social action. The mosaics, corrugated plastics, latticework and the use of color that appears in her work allude to the abilities of individuals and communities to adapt; to create an aesthetic of survival while performing their idiosyncrasy.

Installation views of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin. Courtesy the artist and ChertLüdde, Berlin; All photos by Andrea Rossetti.
“El patio de Espino”, 2019. Installation: Acrylic and pastel on wall, plastic plants, chairs, bricks, vinyl floor, fountain.
“El patio de Espino”, 2019. Installation: Acrylic and pastel on wall, plastic plants, chairs, bricks, vinyl floor, fountain.
“El patio de Espino”, 2019. Installation: Acrylic and pastel on wall, plastic plants, chairs, bricks, vinyl floor, fountain.
“Archivos olvidados (El cuarto de Abuli)”, 2019. Installation: Pastel on wall, vitrine, 3 Paintings: Acrylic, and pastel on canvas.
“Archivos olvidados (El cuarto de Abuli)”, 2019. Installation: Pastel on wall, vitrine, 3 Paintings: Acrylic, and pastel on canvas.
“Archivos olvidados (El cuarto de Abuli)”, 2019. Installation: Pastel on wall, vitrine, 3 Paintings: Acrylic, and pastel on canvas.
“Caballo I”, 2019, Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 61.5 × 41.5 cm.
“Caballo II”, 2019, Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 61.5 × 41.5 cm.
“Interior llamero”, 2019. Installation: Plastic, wood, plastic plants, neon, vinyl floor; 1 Painting: Acrylic, oil sticks, pastel on canvas.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
Installation view of “Archivos Olvidados” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“La partida”, 2019, Acrylic, oil sticks, pastel on canvas, 102.5 × 82 cm.
“Espino II”, 2019, Acrylic, oil sticks, pastel on canvas, 152 × 132 cm.
“Espino I”, 2019, Acrylic, oil sticks, pastel on canvas, 152 × 132 cm.
“Patilla de Abuli”, 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 32.5 × 22.5 cm.
“Sombrero y culembra”, 2019, Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 102.5 × 82 cm.

CONGLOMERATE
Opening reception 26 April 2019, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
26 April – 15 June 2019

Featuring works by: Josefin Arnell & Pauline Curnier Jardin, Aurora Sander, Kev Bewersdorf, Melanie Bonajo, Camp Solong, Mario Campos, Joe Clark, Claudia Comte, Eli Cortiñas, Keren Cytter, DullTech, Nathan Gray & Agnieszka Polska, Renata Har, Heatsick, Harmony Horizon, Christine Hill/Volksboutique, John Holten, Emma Waltraud Howes, The Institute for New Feeling, Avi Krispin, Daniel Laufer, Hanne Lippard, Molly Lowe, Inger Wold Lund, Magic Island, Josep Maynou, Marco Montiel-Soto, Shana Moulton, Erkka Nissinen & Charlie Schroeder, Novo Line, Peles Empire, Repossession Services, Stephen G. Rhodes, Jeremy Shaw, Pascual Sisto, Soda Plains, Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor, Caique Tizzi, Ming Wong, Lauryn Youden

For ChertLüdde, CONGLOMERATE presents a screening room of their complete output from 2016-2018 created along with dozens of fellow artists.

Founded in 2016 by Sol Calero, Ethan Hayes-Chute, Derek Howard, Christopher Kline, and Dafna Maimon, CONGLOMERATE explored the potential of the Television Network model, utilizing the organizational structure and output format of “television” while building a collectivity-focused network.

Headquartered at the Berlin project space Kinderhook & Caracas and expanding to other venues where various television sets were created for selected shows, the project often utilized the immersive exhibition format to shoot original, collaborative productions which were assembled into 30 minute “Blocks” of content alongside guest artist contributions, and made available online at www.conglomerate.tv   The resulting channel-surfing experience puts the viewer at the whim of the network as their computer screen becomes the primary experiential location of the works. The audience is submerged into an idiosyncratic world, a disparate underbelly of sorts, unified through an overarching absurd, humorous, and viscerally seductive take on reality.

While the overall project was conceived of as a Gesamtkunstwerk, each video segment ties into and utilizes a different artistic practice or gesture. Through the multiple ways the different elements and modes of collaboration are woven together, the Blocks form a network of voices, perspectives, relations, skills, and collective affective labor. The varying degrees of involvement of CONGLOMERATE’s makers and contributors create platforms within platforms, or artworks within artworks, where one artist’s practice can be featured within another’s.

This flexibility and continuous shifting of vision and responsibility from maker to maker offers a new potential model for the sustainable and independent realization of larger art projects.  After producing five “Blocks” and two “Spills” as well as a yet-to-be released made-for-TV-movie, CONGLOMERATE wrapped up new productions in 2018.

Installation Views of “CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin. Courtesy the artists and ChertLüdde, Berlin. All photos by Andrea Rossetti.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“CONGLOMERATE” at ChertLüdde, Berlin.