CARLOS CRUZ DIEZ’ “FISICROMÍA A DOBLE FAZ EN HOMENAJE A DON ANDRÉS BELLO” Backdrop for a beautiful chromatic event in “PLAZA VENEZUELA”
Artists seek to bring others into their internal world, giving us their spirit through tangible works such in the case of Carlos Cruz Diez, who merges it with the spectator so to share it with them.
It is no longer a matter of pursuing the idea of movement, like in the case of Alejandro Otero and others, but to identify the optical effects of color, conceiving it as an independent reality in space and time, without the need for a supporting structure to sustain it.
Cruz Diez tries to imprint color saturation in the retina to make it persist in it and, therefore, remain in space and time, becoming autonomous. In our case, such intention of the artist meets and merges with the space and color of our landscapes, our seas, our skies, and our sunsets, along with the warmth of our people and the smiles of our children. For all of these, we are truly lucky!
Each one of these elements is, for Venezuelans (and it is necessary to say it more than ever before), harmonious and intense at the same time; being the reason why it is no coincidence that our artists became the precursors of state-of-the-art artistic movements like this, the chromatic abstraction.
Cruz Diez conveys his quest in eight research projects in which he seeks to identify color behavior, one of which he names “Fisicromía” (Physichromie), characterized for rigorously continuous lines programmed in chromatic event modules that give color a foundation.
But also, given his strong attachment to social aspects that made him be known as a member of the “Muralist School”, Cruz Diez promotes the incorporation of art in public spaces, so that it can be enjoyed by everyone.
Hence, the colors of our landscapes, seas, skies, and sunsets became part of the scenery of our public spaces, where Cruz Diez himself wanted to sow his work and that the smiles would meet again the faces of the people that walk, share, play, enjoy them. That is why Cruz Diez considers that street art, artistic urbanism, urban interventions for pedestrians and their visual pleasure are an instrument for us to remember that we are living beings and that we interact with color, space, and time.
Thus, with the conviction of generating identity and citizen behavior through urban art and spaces for enjoyment, back when I held the position of Founding President of PDVSA La Estancia and thanks to the team we put together, we were able to present to the city of Caracas, in 2007, and after having found it completely destroyed, the work “Fisicromía a Doble Faz en Homenaje a Don Andrés Bello”, who was the teacher of the Liberator, distinguished jurist, whose tangible legacy can be found in the Chilean Civil Code, to justly regulate the civic life (personal and in community) of people.
This piece, created in 1960 by Carlos Cruz Diez, was placed in Plaza Venezuela, to which “it is necessary to return”, which constitutes today one of the most important Artistic Urban Complexes in Latin America, along with the “Abra Solar” by Alejandro Otero, “Pariata 57” by Omar Carreño, and the Fountain in Plaza Venezuela by Santos Michelena, all of which were restored by PDVSA La Estancia.
This work, constituted by two “Fisicromías”, an oval and a circular one, expression of the “physical chromatism” or perceptible chromatism, is representative of his 1973 project “artist in the city”, which was demonstrated in his striped pedestrian crossings, his drawings of public transport buses, on the slopes of the Guaire River, and in transcendental and symbolic works like that located in the “hall” of the Simón Bolívar International Airport of Maiquetía.
The (monumental) piece was originally designed and projected by architect Manuel Silveira, formed by a rectangular structure 3 meters high by 76 meters wide, made with ceramic and anodized aluminum. It is comprised of two semicircular panels placed in a concave form, where the author arranged a series of colors with black, white, and trichrome aluminum rods, which, with the effect of light, generate shades that only the spectator can elucidate as a personal experience. It has a concrete pedestal, which is a metallic structure composed of 16 cm by 7.50 cm beams, two curved walls, two doors made of iron sheets, 660 anodized aluminum profiles, 330 rectangular fins, 660 aluminum pieces, 5280 stainless steel screws, and 300 square meters of ceramic tiles.
As a consequence of time, environmental effects, pollution, and, above all, the movement and traffic of a city no longer comparable to that in which the “Fisicromía” was built, the piece was destroyed, particularly the tiles and the color modules, which paradoxically were the reasons behind its creation for being those that generate the desired chromatic perception, had fallen off the structure.
Therefore, we proceeded to rehabilitate the “Fisicromía” in four stages, with the methodological, artistic, scientific, sociological, and humanistic thoroughness that defined the work of PDVSA La Estancia.
The first stage, held from January to March 2007, was dedicated to the research, which included the legal and background analysis, as well as the blueprints, documents, the preparation of diagnosis and reports, and the digital survey of the area.
The second stage took place from April to July 2007, and it was related to the conditioning of the shed for its reconstruction, the manufacturing of tile prototypes, and the gathering of planimetric data of all the aluminum and iron components.
The next stage was that of the assembly of the piece, in which the aluminum pieces were produced: profiles, fins, plates, iron hooks, and bolts. Four ceramic prototypes were made until reaching the ideal kind, which took two months. Then, the process continued with the presentation of the ideal prototype, the anodizing of metal parts, the mass production of ceramic, the manufacturing of constitutive elements of “Fisicromía”, the supervision of manufacturing of tiles, the manufacturing of aluminum profiles and fins, as well as iron fastening hooks, polychrome tiles and side access fence to the Caracas Metro facilities.
The final stage, from October to March 2007, was the assembly stage: during this, the coordination, supervision and production, the cleaning, weeding, and conditioning of the space to begin the “in situ” works, the cleaning of the concrete base, the reconstruction of the pedestal, the installation of a missing metal door, the removal and placement of granite coating, the transfer of the workpieces to Plaza Venezuela, the placing of profiles, the general cleaning and maintenance were performed.
Y la última (octubre a marzo de 2007), el período de montaje: coordinación, supervisión y producción; limpieza, desmalezamiento y acondicionamiento del espacio para iniciar los trabajos ¨in situ¨; limpieza y ajuste de la estructura de hierro ( desoxidación y protección), limpieza del zócalo de concreto, reconstrucción del pedestal, instalación de puerta metálica faltante, remoción y colocación de acabado de granito, traslados de los elementos constitutivos de la obra a la Plaza Venezuela, colocación de perfiles, limpieza general y mantenimiento.
We only had one “witness” or piece of ceramic, which colors were washed out, faded, due to the passing of time. We took this piece to the city of Valencia, where it was originally fabricated, but with a technique that had been obsolete for ten years. A machine in disuse was rehabilitated and the only expert (who had retired) was tracked to work on the new tiles with a similar technique to that of screen printing, different from that of construction or serial lamination; which is practically a handicraft, made by hand. It took us seven days to get each color. It was a rather precise archeological work.
It was added, as we always did in the renovations carried out by PDVSA La Estancia, at that time, a ¨LED¨ lighting system, and a beautiful gardening work.
What it was most important and our greatest fortune was to find the right people, those who were involved with the rehabilitation process and that committed to it since its creation.
Hence, José Nanín, a disciple of Cruz Diez, who worked with him for over 15 years, alongside a great team: Ana Babic, Albano Sánchez, Oswaldo Galíndez, and representing the Cruz Diez Workshop, the artist son, José Cruz, and José Ramón Moreno. Our work also had the support of professor Raúl Colters, an expert in material engineering, and of course, the excellent team of PDVSA La Estancia, with their deep sense of commitment, professionalism, and passion.
As always, the work was carried out “in situ” so to invite the communities to take care of the piece and enjoy the surrounding spaces, through our cultural, “continuous, free, and of the highest quality” program.
By means of this, we seek to orient the creative power towards raising awareness regarding the valorization, empowerment, and responsible use of all patrimonial gems so these can last through time, forever, as living witnesses of our identity.
The presentation of this work was part of the rehabilitation process of Plaza Venezuela, “where the love for Caracas converges”, and as a sort of an expansive wave of the axis that it constitutes with the very beloved Boulevard Sabana Grande, a generous, unique place, where one can find today the essence of the Caracas plurality; a place that was also rehabilitated by our team, whose complex and unprecedented process will be discussed in future installments.
Through the systematic recovery of our collective memory and the humanization of our vital urban spaces, PDVSA La Estancia brought within the reach of people the enjoyment of the heritage and cultural, thanks as well to the trust placed on its diligent work and the close collaboration with the population.
The love for our heritage must remain in the collective unconscious; we must educate for art, for care. Art must be a cheerful active expression, never inert or passive towards the extraordinary thing that art is; and, by being public, it can be contemplated by all, without discrimination, and expressed in the day-to-day life of those who find while passing through our beloved Plaza Venezuela.