• Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Art Exchange

    Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Art Exchange

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27 September 2003 - 30 October 2003

The installation of Carlos Cruz-Diez's Chromointerference at the University Gallery, University of Essex and at firstsite @ the minories Chromosaturation, offers a rare opportunity to experience the work of this internationally respected kinetic artist in the UK.

Cruz-Diez’s Chromointerferences, which he first began to produce in the 1960s, extend this principle not only by immersing the viewer fully in the work, which is contained in an isolated, darkened space, but also by involving the physical movement of the work itself. In the room, a number of projectors superimpose various sets of vertical lines on angled vertical walls, that shift and are transposed over one another, intensifying the sense of movement and colour. Between the projectors and the walls are three-dimensional objects, including the viewers themselves.

Cruz-Diez was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1923 and has been based in Paris since the 1960s. His experiments with light, movement and especially colour have spanned a career lasting more than 50 years, which has included exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Modern Art Museum in New York and the Olympiad of Art at the Seoul Olympics. Cruz-Diez has also exhibited in the UK and his works are included in the collections of the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America. 

Cruz-Diez's intense interest in the properties and possibilities of colour began when he worked as a graphic artist for an advertising agency in Caracas. In contrast to previous artists, who tended to use colour largely in order to define the form of recognisable forms and objects, Cruz-Diez wanted to make colour the most important aspect of the work of art, stripping it to its bare essentials. He also yearned, like other kinetic artists, to make art with which the viewer could interact and which would stimulate the senses in a very direct way.

In Cruz-Diez's kinetic works, which have also been described as Op art, the movement is both real and apparent. Chromointerference comprises a darkened room with white walls in which a projection casts vertical lines of different colours onto walls and three-dimensional objects, including the viewer. The lines shift and change, intensifying the sensation of movement and the creation of 'virtual' colours that emerge and disappear depending on the position of the viewer.

In Chromosaturation the light is static, but the chromatic experience is intensified by bathing the viewer in different coloured light. He or she traverses three interconnected rooms that are drenched in green, red and blue and that allow the viewer to experience themselves and their environment in a very different way. Perhaps we want to mention the sense of visual distortion that the paasing from one colour to the next produces?

Cruz-Diez's Chromointereference and Chromosaturation both belong to series that he began in the 1960s and which represent advanced stages in his experiments with colour that, like all of his work, continue to evolve and expand. In line with his belief that art and artists should always be 'of the moment' Cruz-Diez strives to make use of new technologies and techniques. The installation at firstsite @ the minories will therefore include computer terminals where people can create their own works based on Cruz-Diez's theory of colour.

Joanne Harwood, Director 

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