Sol Calero at Dortmunder Kunstverein

Artist: Sol Calero

Exhibition title: Interiores

Venue: Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany

Date: March 4 – May 7, 2017

Photography:  Simon Vogel, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Dortmunder Kunstverein

Sol Calero (b. 1982 in Caracas, Venezuela) transforms spaces. Her immersive installations are a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk: vibrantly coloured and richly furnished with decorative but functional objects, paintings, furniture, custom-made fabrics, and videos. Calero often converts neutral spaces into functional and communicative ones – art galleries become hair salons or internet cafés, or a museum turns into a spa.

For Interiores, her first major institutional solo exhibition in Germany, she has foregone all functionality to focus on painting and its formal aspects, creating an immersive painting specifically for the site. Apart from certain ready-made-like elements – including curtains of her own design, metal garden gates or the vinyl floor – everything else is painting: monochrome-coloured walls, murals that imitate architectural elements and free-standing wood panels painted on both sides with designs deriving from nature. The motifs reference Calero’s previous painterly practice on canvas.

For the Dortmunder Kunstverein, Calero developed a concept to realize her painting in three-dimensional space, to give it volume. The wood panels she designed correspond to the various layers she usually applies to the canvas: in Interiores, they can now be found distributed across the room. At the same time, the outlines of the panels resemble oversized vases or hanging leaves and other organic shapes. The panels are additionally endowed with cut-outs reminiscent of tropical fruit like bananas, melons or lemons. Elaborately arranged in the room, the individual planes overlap depending on the viewer’s visual axis. While moving through the exhibition, new visual combinations constantly open up to the viewer – as if looking through a kaleidoscope. Thus, in Interiores one experiences painting that frees itself from any two-dimensionality, seizes the space and merges with it. Within this, art historical references appear, particularly the work of the Venezuelan sculptor Jesus Rafael Soto (1923 – 2005), whose tradition Calero takes up with the spacial experience established here.

Similar to the architecture of the Renaissance or Baroque period, where sculptures, paintings and interior design work in unison to charge rooms with atmosphere and meaning, Sol Calero combines her works of art with various tropical subjects and an opulent aesthetic. Thus, Interiores unfolds into a spatial landscape that moves between garden aesthetics and interior design and, in so doing, challenges our cliché-afflicted concept of the exotic and the accompanying construction of identity and otherness. In combining the simplicity of the motifs and the use of popular elements of design— for instance, in the mosaic-like vinyl flooring — with a feeling of visual oversaturation, Sol Calero gets to the heart of our perception, which is often superficial and characterised by traditional patterns, banal symbolism and cultural ascriptions. She reveals our inherent desire for a sensorial and easy reading of signifiers and dispels them with humour.

Sol Calero is co-founder of the Berlin-based project space Kinderhook & Caracas, which she manages together with Christopher Kline since 2011. In addition she is initiator and member of the collaborative project CONGLOMERATE, an online television platform hosting a series of fictional TV shows with videos of various artists (Jeremy Shaw, Keren Cytter i.a.) as well as a self-made telenovela.