Exhibition 2388: Connecting Vocabularies. Stefan Umærus
The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, located in the cultural zone of Parque Central, Caracas, opens “2388: Connecting Vocabularies”, an exhibition by Stefan Umærus, who has created a poetic visualization of connected worlds and fused vocabularies in painting, poetry and a diary. Inauguration: Sunday, June 5th, 2016, 11:00 am, Sala 7.
The exhibition allows the public to explore the particular universe of this creator. The art project is based on the poems and diary Stefan Umærus wrote diary during his time as a student of the Mandarin language at the University of Foreign Studies, Beijing, between 1988 and 1989, the period just before the events on Tiananmen Square, on June 4th, 1989.
Visitors can enjoy paintings, presented as fourteen works in large format, twelve panels of poetry, a handwritten book by the artist, a diary, poems and eight abstract paintings in small format. It should be noted that the poems and diary were originally written by hand, day by day, as the events unfolded. The paintings were made in New York in 1991.
In this regard, we talked with Umærus, who before starting the interview emphasized that in this project has worked in conjunction with his wife, the Venezuelan Chely Depablos, whom he married in New York in 1991.
The seed of this curatorial discourse has it's cradle in China. About this, he tells us that the seduction of the Asian country was almost immediate: "My intention was to be immersed in the culture of China. When I was at the language school, a student movement began and I found it interesting to make it part of my project. For this reason, I wrote a diary, poems, and added photos to the documentation. "I loved the city and the culture of Beijing. It was fascinating and the most amazing was that sometimes they deified me. I was very happy at the time, had many friends". A happiness that has been a constant in his life, evident in his smile.
When referring to fundamental influences in the development of his artistic evolution he mentions the versatile Ezra Pound, pillar of modernism, poet, musician, essayist and critic. Moreover, he remembers one of the texts he read during his childhood, the theatrical piece Père Ubu by Alfred Jarry, cornerstone for the development of the artistic movement referred to earlier. He read Pound extensively, long before the magical country, China, where he began the fusion of disciplines.
The artist explained that the number in the title, “2388”, refers both to what we have become humans, a series of numbers in documents, as well as to time past, the seventeenth century, and to four hundred years years into the future. As stated in the catalog text: "in an allegorical anticipation of the transmuted future, Umærus revives the premise of the seventeenth century French court series La Galerie de Phaéton by Sébastien Bourdon.”
The artist who considers himself adopted by Venezuela – he has 25 years married to a Venezuelan - as well as adopted by other countries, tells us that the gift for painting has followed him since he was a child, "I was very creative" and laughs especially by recalling when he was about four years old, at preschool, the teacher asked the children to copy a design of a boat. He was enchanted by the colors, but his drawing was not exactly as the original. All the other kids made an exact copy of the original, and made fun of him.
As time went by, the gift for painting began to be formal beyond the age of twenty. Although the fusion with poetry was much later, he felt seduced by the world of letters from an early age: "Since I was a child I used to read a lot in the library. At the age of fourteen, I remember reading “L' Opoponax”, novel by Monique Wittig, and “Père Ubu” by Alfred Jarry.”
The universe of the bards fascinated him "For me, the poetry is to express what I have in mind, in my feelings, is like a different dimension" and adds through poetry "I do live things that conventional people do not, and that is what I also express in painting".
From a family dedicated to science, the inspiration from his family was fundamental, "they worked throughout the world, traveled to different countries" and adds that with them he had the opportunity to experience and appreciate multiple cultures, and to learn languages.
The adventure in China of this creator began after having passed before his trip to
the Asian country, Le Marais, a seventeenth-century district in Paris, France, where he exhibited at Le Centre Cultural Suédois, with an exhibition entitled “Epsilon Lyræ”. Inspired, he traveled through the then USSR with the Trans-Siberian Express and then studied the Mandarin language for one year at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. The project of this artist is an eloquent elixir not to be missed.
(FIN/ WWF/MAC/ Teresa Quilez)
MAC: Temple to Connect Vocabularies
from Spanish by Renny Arrieta, 2016, and by Stefan Umærus, 2017.