Carlos Cruz-Diez was born in Caracas, Venezuela on August 17, 1923. Recognized as one of the greatest kinetic artists of all time, he created art that explores the perception of color as an autonomous reality evolving in space and time. His canvas’ were innovative in that they reflected the evolving nature of color through motion.
Throughout his lifetime, he achieved many academic and professional goals that further allowed his work to gain recognition, eventually becoming a symbol of patriotism and nostalgia for all Venezuelans. In 1940, he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Caracas, where he obtained the diploma of professor in Applied Arts. In 1944, he worked as an illustrator for the publication ‘El Farol of the Creole Petroleum Corporation,’ as well as for other magazines such as La Esfera and Élite. In 1946, he served as the creative director of the advertising agency McCann-Erickson. He held his first exhibition called “12 Gouaches de Carlos Cruz-Diez” at the Instituto Venezolano-Americano in Caracas in 1947. In 1953, he worked as an illustrator for the then prestigious newspaper “El Nacional.” Finally, in 1960, he moved with his family to Paris where he continued to create work that played with the viewer’s perspective by providing an illusion of movement through the use of color, space, and time.
Cruz-Diez’s work is housed in prestigious permanent collections in art institutions internationally. However, his most famous and most memorable work of art is located in Venezuela. “Ambientation of Additive Color” is a physichromie series, installed and exhibited inside the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia. This exquisite piece has served as the backdrop to millions of Venezuelans who have fled the country during the past decade. Ask a Venezuelan and you will come to understand that this piece transcends time and space and continues to be housed in the hearts and minds of Venezuelans around the world despite where they may have had to migrate to.
Before departing to various unknown lands, one of the last things that Venezuelans see at the airport is the work of Carlos Cruz-Diez. It is fitting that his work creates an illusion of movement that stimulates “awareness of the instability of reality,” as Venezuelans are forced to leave behind their home country in search of a new and more stable reality.
By Marlon Correa, Daniella Bustillos, Dilianna Bustillos.
During Simón Bolívar’s speech before the Patriotic Society on July 4th, 1811, he pleaded for Venezuela to break from colonial chains: “Lets, with no fear, place the stone of fundamental South American liberty: to hesitate is to lose ourselves.” His words against Spanish rule aimed at a unity, if effective, it would lead Venezuela to freedom. The words union and liberty ring throughout his speech but, what did Bolívar mean with such words, with such proclamation? A sentiment that forced him to leave a clear message of what for a new nation was, or meant: its independence.
Union; an ambiguous word used in ancestral generations to define the strong and unbreakable links of an agreement or friendship. When I was young, my mother used to say, “the links of brotherhood and friendship are so intricately intertwined that when force is applied, they’re almost impossible to break because they form a nucleus of unwavering power.” In each one of Bolívar’s letters, he often referred to the same union. In each text. In each proclamation. He relied on his faith, “when union is consolidated, and parties cease, I will go down calmly into my grave.” These words were a declaration not only for that time, but his words served as inspiration for future liberators. I frequently question myself about Bolívar’s thoughts regarding liberty and union, and I wonder if we are those ornamented liberators he conceived, or are we just simple-minded citizens? Perhaps we are like those who chose not to come after that independence feat, but chose to live under colonial rule of the enslaving Spanish Monarchy? Well no, I am a patriot because I firmly believe in the fundamental principles of the First Republic of Venezuela’s constitution based on the premises of equality of individuals, abolition of censorship and dedication to freedom of expression. The one that freed us, that weaned us from that colonial sustenance; and like the Phoenix, it gave us new wings to fly, to be free and search for skies of dignity and national patriotism. That, to me, and to many others, would represent what we commemorate on July 5th.
As I reflect on these words, and how Bolívar’s thoughts resonate in my mind; ‘Caramba’ it feels as if I’m listening to the echo of his words in the air. It’s as if I’m seeing his hand moving the sword of justice, crying out for union and freedom of the oppressed. For twenty one years Venezuela has suffered many battles, from unlimited corruption lawsuits to systematic human rights violations; Bolívar’s dreams have been shattered. Simón Bolívar was a prophet, a dreamer, a visionary leader who yearned for a free country, and on July 5th, 1811, proclaimed his vision in order to establish a new nation, and help Venezuela compelling such emancipation parchment manuscript: our constitution.
Today, July 5th, 2019, two hundred and eight years later, I’m left yearning for that same freedom. Today, I cry out for the chains of hate, abuse, and division to break, and I plead for an effective union that will lead Venezuela to freedom, again.
I believe we are those liberators Bolívar spoke about, but until our union is not consolidated, we will not go calmly into our grave.
By Pedro Correa, Marlon Correa, and Virginia Giunta