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Williams Carmona. The Bold are Unusual, Lady Gaga, 2011. Acrylic on canvas. 17 x 22 in. (43 x 55.8cm.).

Solo Show
Williams Carmona

ArtNexus #84 - Arte en Colombia #130
Mar - May 2012

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Obra Galería Alegría

Ingrid María Jimenez Martinez

The works of Williams Carmona, a Cuban artist now residing in Puerto Rico, were on exhibit in recent days at Obra del Viejo gallery. Carmona cultivates a portentous style of drawing, the main scaffold supporting a variegated world that juxtaposes fragments, quotations, and appropriations of works from different periods in the history of art. Added to this are figures and objects related to the artist’s personal life; Carmona fuses the sacred and the profane, the high and the low, in a practice that began almost one hundred years ago with Dada and the surrealists. However, Carmona’s work does not resemble surrealism, if we understand surrealism as defined by André Breton and the painters associated with the movement: “A pure psychic automatism through which one intends to express, verbally, in writing, or in any other way, the real working of thought. It is a dictate of thought, unregulated by reason, alien to any aesthetic or moral concern.” 1 Carmona’s work substitutes the conscious selection and incorporation of fragments, figures, and objects taken from paintings, mainly from the Spanish baroque, for the automatism of the surrealists. The best place for the pirating of images is not the dream world, but art history books.

Arnold Hauser wrote in his The Social History of Artthat, in a conversation, Sigmund Freud told Salvador Dalí that “What interests me the most in your art is not the subconscious, but the conscious.” Hauser reflected on Freud’s comment: “Perhaps what he meant to say was, ‘I am not interested in your simulated paranoia, but in the method of your simulation.’ 2 One could wonder whether in the art of our times, or in Carmona’s painting, we are witnessing the method of the simulation of simulations. The artistic process would thus be a learned strategy that recycles fragments of the history of art, emphasizing the hybrid character and the dissolution of the unity of the work of art in a classical sense. Carmona’s painting is inserted, from this point of view, into the artistic mainstream, defined by Omar Calabrese as a neo-baroque. An art that evokes the baroque, with a taste for mismatched objects among its salient features, and is fed by extravagance, chaos, theatricality, and hyperbole. In works like La primera cena and Sopa con Botero, the images are set against the background of a tenebrous, dark field that contrasts sharply with them and brings them into relief. But, contrary to the baroque style of many paintings from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries with their serious tone and the heavy atmosphere that enveloped heir figures, neo-baroque works like Carmona’s are Kitsch containers wherein we are no longer presented with finished artworks but fragments of others that obtain into de-archeologized materials. In Carmona’s painting, images do not duplicate of triplicate their meaning, and they do not unfurl their connotative energy.

Carmona typifies and repeats forms from baroque painting, to wit: floating figures, a frying pan, hanging eggs from Velázquez’s painting. He places objects and figures in pen spaces, landscapes that resemble those by Dalí. This strategy makes it possible to see the images as at once identical and different. Rather than adhering to surrealist strategies such as the condensation mechanism used by Max Ernst in Pietá or Revolution by Night, Carmona exemplifies the neo-baroque strategies defined by Omar Calabrese in his book La era Neobarroca. Fragments become autonomous from the whole, losing their original context. Different from collage, where a new object is built through the union of different parts, not necessarily as the representation of a whole, the work of art as a gathering of fragments from other works has to do with repetition as a structural mechanism for the generation of images. Repetition concerns the structure of the work. The fragment cannot be defined in absence of the whole; its interest resides in its recomposition within variety. Williams Carmona’s painting exemplifies the art of today and at the same time contains the keys to an aesthetics that re-establishes, through repetition, principles that were challenged by the historical avant-garde.


1. André Breton. Manifiesto surrealista. Primeras vanguardias artísticas. Textos y documentos. Lourdes Cirtlot, ed. Barcelona: Editorial Labor 1995.

2. Arnold Hauser. Historia social de la literatura y el arte. III Madrid: Ediciones Guadarrama.




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