Waltercio Caldas (1946 - )

O Livro Velázquez (1996)
The Velázquez Book

Digital print
height: 35cm
width: 27cm

Donated by Waltercio Caldas 1996


Within the trajectory of Waltercio Caldas' work there exists a sustained exploration of how we inhabit, and are in turn inhabited by, structures of seeing or types of vision. Inevitably this investigation touches upon the history of art, upon the visual authority represented by moments and movements: naturalism, realism, perspective: successive moments within the history of seeing. Within this book-work, O Livro Velázquez, out-of-focus text and blurred images perturb the authority of painted vision and its reproduction and reiteration via the coffee table art book. At the same time this book functions as an erudite exploration of Velazquez' construction of space; the removal of the human protagonist in each image reflexively reveals how the painter structured each image in order to place the protagonist at the centre of the viewer's attention. By virtue of their absence, the key figures of each painting are unavoidably there: albeit via the substitutive action of memory and imagination.

Although altered then, the form of the book and its content are pressingly familiar; but they also stand against the visual certainty of familiarity. Beyond any figure of authority, whether Art History, Naturalism or the great master, Velázquez, this book turns against us, the viewers, and against our own mastery of seeing-knowing. Looking up from the book we might be left uncertain; how stable is the truth of what our eyes and minds see: what theatrical space is it that we, as much as any painter, publisher or photographer, construct in order to visually understand the world that we inhabit?

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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