Ricardo Cárdenas | “Mirar, pensar, dibujar, dibujar, dibujar… seleccionar y construir”

The artist and sculptor Ricardo Cárdenas shows an exhibition inspired in devotion towards wetlands in the Colombian Savannah.

Colombian Savannah’s wetland: passive calm and with no defense, protected by reed, water reservoirs, and water creators. In Bogota, there’re around 15 wetlands, and its conservation more and more deteriorated deserve great worry by the people who use this territory. Because of that, Ricardo Cárdenas proposes in his artistic project a research about a botany expedition and exploration to the wetlands that, through huge sculptures, evince the constant change that these natural reservoirs suffer while the concrete and iron foundations eat the city. 

Cárdenas has created huge sculptures using materials like metallic rods, aluminum, screws, and wire; element that are chosen while the artist creates his artwork. His work begins with drawing. This Civil Engineer transforms his world through the pencil to create the structures that he imagines in his mind. His art isn’t just a workshop creation, but a product of interaction between the artist and the spaces which he is related,” says the Colombian curator Eduardo Serrano towards the artwork of this artist.

He’s related with his sorroundings; gives the privilege of transfiguring the nature in his sculptures because of its shapes and elements; the role of men as agent for change and possible devastating of some natural reservoirs. His experience with nature and closely with wetlands in Bogota were part of the inspiration in the exhibition Expedición Chucua, terms related with the ancient Muisca tradtion of venerating Savannah’s wetlands.

The collection is exhibited in the Santa Clara Museum in Bogota: magnificent place with history overflowing its walls, and a thousand of details that speak about a religious State that, beginning in 1983, was turned into a museum where itinerant exhibitions are included. Cárdenas achieves to adapt his artwork among the baroque dimension of the space, allowing a constant change in his sculptures that are transfigured with the time. The exhibition has three fundamental pieces: El Nido (The Nest,) an artwork formed by white sticks interwoven. For the artist, it’s an attractive figure of the nature. La Nube (The Cloud) is a structure that hangs from the roof. It has a conformation drop-by-drop. The artist proposes an indelible structure that represents the Colombian Savannah’s wet areas.  The last but not least: El Humedal (Wetland,) it’s a sculpture with big sticks. According to the artist, it will be dismantled as the exhibition occurs as a representation of what has happened to the wetlands in the city.

Ricardo Cárdenas told us about his artworks and his current exhibition:

How does your completion with sculptures commence?

Since child, I was bended to assemble things, airplanes at scale. When I ended Civil Engineer, I had the opportunity to work a year and a half in a special effect factory in Los Angeles, where I had a quotidian closeness to different materials. The work required to make sculptures, assemble, and join things. Returning to Bogota, I became bonded with Metalmecánica Company where aluminum was the star. There, I became familiarized with this material and other processes.

In which things are you focused on when making the artwork with a determined dimension?

In the space where the artwork will live, and in the scale relation human-artwork. Light, natural or artificial, plays an important role because it helps material to have one or another perception. Shadows are an artwork extension

For what kind of spaces do you make your artwork?

Different types of spaces. For me, public spaces without doors are the most desirables. Not having doors or barriers, the observer is with the same condition with the artwork: living in a space without owners or external.

How do you achieve this similarity and great inspiration with the nature?

This comes from when I was child. I’ve always interested in nature and let myself to easily surprise by its shapes and elements. Studying engineering, structures in it called my attention. Nests, for example, are structures built with elements of the nature that call a lot my attention because they’re very unstable elements that produce a stable structure due to their shape.

The sensibility you have by nature has any relation with the problems that affects the world, for example, logging and the no conservation of environmental and forestry reservoirs?

Now, with the exhibition Chuchua I want that people and organizations become sensitive with wetlands and their importance for migrations. I also want to call the attention about human actions on nature. Human thinks that if he or she goes to plant a tree, he or she is in peace with nature.

In Expedición Chucha you refer to wetlands, how do you relate your artwork with the space in the Santa Clara Museum?

It was a one-year process to make the exhibition formal. The space and its history were studied. Event that occurred around the convent in times previous to the Independence, how the surroundings and nature of the city was, and the intense activity that took place with the Botany Expedition. In the expedition, there was a group of naturalists accompanied by draftsmen that took notes and drafts of everything interesting. My creation process is summarized in “Seeing, thinking, drawing, drawing, drawings… choosing and constructing.” Until now, I’ve begun from nature images. This way, I left the city to find elements and spaces in nature, and I found wetlands. I went over the city wetlands; I studied about the effect they have in nature and migrations; I was shocked by the critical situation they are, their importance, and the negative effect that their extinction would have. Besides, for Muisca culture, wetlands were important in everyday life. They still are protagonists of tales related with this culture.

What does it have in account when choosing spaces in the Santa Clara Museum to put each sculpture?

Little by little and during innumerable glances, ideas poured and an Installation Plan was made. However, some adjustments were made because some artworks asked for a special location, since they have own personality.

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