As an artist, I express my creativity through the juxtaposition of recycled elements from art history that have played a pivotal role in shaping the foundations of Western culture. These elements may include objects or motifs that have been represented in earlier works of art, or even specific modes of artistic representation themselves. By combining and recontextualizing these elements, I delve into my perspective as an emigrant, offering my responses to the prevailing values and conventions entrenched in the art realm today. Furthermore, I explore the ongoing journey of assimilation and resistance against inherited standards within our culture and society.
My work revolves around recycling emblematic representations of the human figure from art history, with a specific focus on the ancient Greco-Roman tradition, which has contributed to shaping the current Western aesthetic values. In a way, my aim is to challenge the established Western aesthetic paradigm by resignifying and recontextualizing its historical symbols of power, now handled as unfilled visual resources. I reuse these historical motifs, transforming them from objects originally created to be placed on a pedestal, somehow, into parts of pedestals themselves.
As a Cuban living in the USA, I often find myself viewed as "the other" by Western culture. However, I also see Western culture as "the other" in my own perspective. When I incorporate Western European influences into my work, I sometimes feel a sense of detachment that allows me to strip away their sacredness and impregnate them with new meanings in different contexts. Somehow, I can perceive a parallel between my practice and how Picasso incorporated empty-of-meaning African Masks into his artwork. Additionally, through this recycling process, I also engage in a dialogue with my own experiences as an immigrant, constantly reinventing myself and rising above past versions of who I used to be, much like standing atop a pile of old selves.
To advance my efforts in integrating the legacy of art history into my artistic creations, I have expanded my endeavors by employing digital modeling techniques and clay 3D printing. Computer modeling technology gives me broader artistic possibilities, including the opportunity to incorporate and manipulate digital models made from original ancient artworks, the ability to design more complex compositions and assemblages, and the capacity to preserve the integrity of the quoted references.
Therefore, I believe that these new technological processes enable me to achieve a significant shift in my role as an artist regarding artwork production. Rather than being a creator, I see myself as an assembler of recycled elements from art history. More broadly, I perceive that art communicates through the repository of previously crafted images, just as ideas expressed in our language are articulated through references to previously formulated ones. As a result, I feel that my purpose is to serve as a translator or channel in the autonomous process of artistic production's development.
Overall, my artistic practice involves reusing and resignifying visual elements to provoke critical reflection and challenge established norms, inviting viewers to reconsider their perception of art as well as established norms in our society.
Carlos Enrique Prado, 2023