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Paintings by Luis Camarena at Aquimia 4

By Arturo C. Quiroz

It is gratifying when an Art Gallery opens its doors to show the work of various artists. For some time ago Jorge Coro and Adriana Tapia have had the interest and the courage to diversify the proposals in their Gallery Alquimia 4, much as in their most recent site called MuvArte. On this occasion Alquimia 4 in Fabrica La Aurora presents the exhibit “Museum”, work of Luis Camarena, independent architect and painter since 1989.

It is a series of paintings that were recently exhibited in the Museum Olga Costa and José Chávez Morado during the 42nd Festival Internacional Cervantino.

The series contains figurative paintings which we could classify as neo-surrealist. The theme that the artist developed revolves around what happens inside a museum, where people go to contemplate.

The artist explains: “In a museum the past stops being contemplated: an object, a sculpture, a painting. The most poignant thing is to see ordinary people taking the time to look… look what another made: Contemplate.” And it happens: painting after painting, Luis Camarena shows us again and again. It seems to me that in the conception of each painting there always is a dialogue: “the dialectic interlaced through the one who did and who looks”.

In the development of this theme, the architectural context that hosts is important: in some cases a succession of spaces within walls and successive arches can be seen that evoke a tour. In others the scene happens abroad: conducive esplanades for the rest of the sculptures; ponds in the middle of some kind of spatial configuration which makes us think of old haciendas, jungles that spring from the water.

The paintings have something unsettling: the observer figures are mostly naked, as are the same figures who contemplate. This produces an ironic atmosphere, as if we were dreaming that we visit a museum and move from room to room with the same nakedness as the effigies in their bases. Perhaps the series might even be closer to metaphysical painting than Surrealism. The author exposes in his scenes elements that work as meaning-laden words in a poem. In this way, in a painting of Camarena, we suddenly see a wheel in the middle of a esplanade. This element located there so arbitrarily, in appearance evokes landscapes of a memory, an idiosyncrasy of a game, or possibly a transport.

A wheel is a ring, its shadow is an ellipse. The same shape, with another treatment of light and color can be a sphere. What is a wheel doing here? We do not know, but the item itself triggers a mechanism of remembrances.


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