April 23 to November 27
¨Personal Structure¨. European Cultural Center
Venice Biennale 2022
Artificial Future Cities
Raul Esteras, Puerto Rico.
Artificial Future Cities is the most recent collection of works by Puerto Rican artist Raúl Esterás. Through this series, the artist continues an investigation in which he produces futuristic topographies of dystopian cities by direct interventions on rigid supports with power tools. In his work, Esterás proposes dialogues with the work of artists who have been fundamental references in his formation and who in some way link him to the aesthetics of surrealism, European materic informalism and futurism.
For this collection, Esterás combines a brilliant and contrasting palette of colors with a complex network of incisions and textures that reveal the very process of elaboration of the pieces, even revealing the raw material on which they are assembled. The constant intervention -at times obsessive- on the wood, wears away the support, opening holes that allow us to see the wall, technically bringing the result closer to what would be the matrix of a lost plate woodcut. The negotiations that the artist carries out in his studio while resolving each of the pieces allow him to oscillate with a certain freedom between the traditional limits of painting and sculpture, aspiring of course to expand those frontiers that still insist on imposing themselves as the fundamental criterion of the artistic. In this sense, he elaborates a methodology that does not discriminate between disciplines and that in any case allows the perfomative trace of each execution to leave a visible and “traceable” mark of the road traveled.
Regarding the title, Artificial Future Cities, is a reflection on a not too distant future where technological advances and artificial intelligence have surpassed and dispensed organic life. The series is composed of a collection of abstract reliefs in different formats that allude to futuristic urban landscapes where technology develops its own environments, modifying the spaces it colonizes while replacing biology with unnatural forms of self- sustainable existence. The paintings depict autonomous cities run by artificial intelligence, anticipating a bright and efficient, but bleak future for humanity and non-mechanical life.
Of the series, “Andromeda City I” refers to the beginnings of the city. In it, the yellow dots symbolize energy centers that are expanding on the surface, while the dark planes represent the areas that are in the process of self-construction. On the other hand, “Intelligent Factory” is a piece inspired by the Egyptian pyramids and represents the beginning of these mechanized metropolises. According to the author, the shape adopted by the piece wants to allude to the constructions in the ancient times, while the patterns of lines and circles represent the electrical weaving that keeps these cities in constant movement and development. “Electromagnetic Rouge” points to a hyper-connected future in which despite the apparent fragmentation, all parts of this artificial organism remain connected. Of these, “Seven Towers” once again draws attention to the energy issue, representing in its seven parts a system of towers gravitating at different levels of the atmosphere in charge of collecting solar plasma to cover the energy demand of a non-stop production system. In this series, Estarás points simultaneously to the prophetic capacity of science fiction and to contemporary cosmogonies that sees in technology both, the possibility of advancing towards a better future and a contained threat capable of challenging that which makes us human.
Not less relevant is the intuitive search for an imaginary of its own that alludes to the artificial aesthetics of electronic panels with their circuits, bars, soldering and metallic connections through a mostly abstract language. The result is the product of a complex process of pictorial intervention and assembly, but above all an invitation to imagine a zenithal view of a highly technologically advanced city in which there is nothing but machinery. Pointing in some way to the mark left by the Western impulse that puts technological progress before the wellbeing of the majority. Even so, artificial intelligence is still in this scenario, a legacy of the same human intelligence that despite replacing it also redeems it, managing to finally give, in its own way, an efficient and sustainable future to inhabit, even if it were for the sake of the future itself.
Raúl Esterás (Caguas, Puerto Rico, 1983) is a self-taught artist with painting studies and eight years of experience as a commercial printer. He has participated in international fairs such as Volta Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland and London Art Fair in London, England and ZⓈONAMACO in Mexico City. Since 2013 he has been active in the Puerto Rican art scene participating in numerous group shows at venues such as the Museo de San Juan and the Casa Ashford Cultural Center, which in turn has earned him the recognition and support of local and international organizations such as Beta-Local, The Art Academy and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. This year he will present “Artificial Future Cities”, his most recent collection of works, in the exhibition “Personal Structures”, a biannual exhibition organized by the European Cultural Centre as part of the 59th Venice Biennale, Italy. Esterás is represented by REM Projects gallery based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, under the direction of Roberto Escobar Molina aka REM
REM Project is the first Art Gallery from Puerto Rico to be selected to participate in “PERSONAL STRUCTURES” created by the European Cultural Center, a parallel event, celebrated during Venice Biennale 2022 in Venice, Italy.