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BIPEDS

By Gerardo Zavarce

Francisco Pereira builds throughout the exhibition of his Bipeds (Galeria D’Museo, October 2013) a fantastic “imaginarium”. This is an anthropomorphic zoology assembled together as a symbolic system aiming at explaining a given reality. This exercise, these body changes, the trip to an archaic stage of humanity, represents a deep process of reflection about the human condition in its external and internal complexities. Thus it implies  problematizing the subject simultaneously within his psychic and cosmologic environment, permanent challenge of the creative act: to offer the mediation between the human being and his experience of the world.

Therefore, the zoomorphic code erects itself as a reference for a particular taxonomy of the different spheres of the being. The animal becomes again to  the key to explain both the human and natural realities, a tradition that traces back to the primary stages of humankind where did not exist a clear distinction between the animal and human collectives. For example; in France there is a rupestrian cave belonging to the high paleolithycal period that shows a man (biped) with an American buffalo-head that chases an animal with American buffalo.head and deer torso. Therefore, there is a use of the animal element (in fables, in proverbs, in parables, in myths and in the own medieval bestiaries) the continuity of this practice which takes us back to archaic times in which animals designated the world hierarchies; the cardinal points, the months of the year as in the Chinese horoscope and especially the relation between the man with the representation of an animal erected as a totem of the group, the explanation of his own origin of the world.

In this way, Pereira’s proposal suggests an immersion into the geological, telluric depths of the human psyche. From a temporary plane is also assumes an unfulfilled wish of returning, of an impossible return journey, of thepermanent search for the starting point, the human redemption of the human conceived through his arrival in the lost paradise, ending his punishment and the expulsion of the “sapiens” from the primeval scenery where: men, women and nature where in equilibrium, now lost, in perpetual continuity.

In this sense, the piece named “The Journey” becomes one of the center-pieces in order to value the meaning of Bipeds. It emerges as an “epicenter” of meanings in the context of the exhibition. Here, the ark, its figurehead of the vessel incorporates an anthropomorphic profile. This then reveals, transfixing towards the human’s unfolding and its inner world, the only possible territory for the human being to realize himself.

Notwithstanding, the vessel also represents the duality principal of any mythical reality, which all symbolic representation in the world proposes: the bow represents the human face, the oars that move the vessel and at the same time render it’s necessary support, have animal-shaped extremities: a duality that integrated the human being with his deepest nature. In the Book of the Genesis, God created animals and beasts, latter He created the human being. In a similar way, our body-ark, that carries our identities in elopement, remains supported and mobilized by the forces of a deep primeval animal nature.

Following this dual perspective, the ark symbolizes in an evident manner a journey, a history, an apparent point of departure and arrival. It refers to the journey in the midst of the deluge. There is a clear reference to Noah’s ark, the reason why this piece represents a metaphor for civilization drifting in a universe without gods. It expresses the anguish of the cosmological alienation faced with the fall from the golden age as narrated by Hesiodo and recited by Ovid, faced with the expulsion from the genesis lost paradise and the absolute and land-sliding renovation brought by the deluge. Interpreted this way, it encompasses: the fall from grace, the expulsion, all as a context for the human journey is justified in a deep anguish about his future and his existence.

Therefore, Bipeds construct, from its zoo-anthropomorphic representation, a new code to interpret reality. There is a desire of totemic re-enchantment, a rite of passage, which this exhibition incorporate as an experience, giving back to the spectator a deformed zoomorphic image of his own body: elongated like their thin bare legs, as a metaphor of the aspiration of transcending, anchored to earth by virtue of the earthy forces belonging to our own imaginary about death.

The recourse to the poetics of differences, the unsuspected permutations that aim to produce a different reality underpin the series of Pereira’s sculptures in this exhibition. There is also a desire to express an insight on the “human condition” as a sign of our times: bipeds disenfranchised from the protection of their gods, thrown out in the open in tadem with our accelerated itinerary-less journeys.

In this way, each piece that makes up the exhibition of BIPEDS, 18 in total, imply a search within our own interior tensions, the perpetual journeys of the human psyche. Every journey implies a transit within the self, and disentangles an epic for those who submerge themselves in the deep soul-work’s labyrinth. Where these not the same ideas the ancient Greek debated upon, availing themselves of the expression “knowing oneself”? Does not the return of Ulysses to Ithaca represent an inner journey?

Thus, each one of the bipeds created by Pereira contains and homes a particular expressive force constituting itself in the thread that binds together the entire plot underlying every journey. These are milestones, psychic boundaries: the bifanta, the bifant, the bipig and the bifante, the bipig and the bidog, the birraf and the bibull, the binosarius and the bigoat, the bisheep and the bihorse, the bipotamus and the bideer, the bimel and the bipard. In all these animated pieces there underlies the creation of a mythical, fantastic, supernatural and surreal code. In them there is the underlying subliminal presence of a human expressive force, embodied in a model sculpture in the aspiration to recover its lost transcendence and capriciously denied by the forces that regulate the fate of both men and women.

There is a link with the tradition in art, an explicit legacy which needs to be highlighted in the context of this exhibition. Francisco Pereira’s work, his sensitive, delicate bet, reminisces the surreal landscapes of Max Ernst; a bet to elaborate an inner world representation.  Equally, there are reminiscences of sacred symbols from archaic societies, of times bygone when animals and humans resembled each other. However, we find in the Flemish painter, Hieronymus Bosch, “The Ship of Fools”, an important and meaningful reference of human impulses displaced by life and death’s whirlwinds, destiny-less and without return. Art seems to be charged with the pretension of expressing life’s transcendence, which only can be achieved through the spreading out the bigaso’s wings, the only biped of his kind with innate creative freedom.
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ARTISTIC CREATION, SYMBOLIC EXPRESSION OF THE PSYCHE

Carolina Chirinos. (Jungian Analyst) A symbol refers to an item so deep and so complex that consciousness, being limited can not fully grasp it immediately.

The entirety of psychological processes, both conscious and unconscious.

Art is a vehicle for the psyche’s symbolic expression. By means of an internal dialogue, it leads the artist through a creative process of self-encounter. Art stimulates the expression of what is found deep within, which could either be something repressed or something simply forgotten. Art has a liberating capacity of bringing, to a conscious level, elements from the unconscious, which need to be expressed but cannot, at least not in a rational manner. Thus, these elements flourish through the representation of an image or a symbol (1) turned into art.

Through this vehicle of expression, the artist can achieve a self-knowledge. It is a way of feeling, a perception and a means of broadening self-awareness, encouraging the exchange of information between different, manifested or repressed aspects of the individual psyche. (2)

From this perspective, Francisco Pereira’s work -“Bipeds”- offers several approaches to his creative expression. In his Bipeds, the artist shows us the way he explores the deeper aspects of the psyche, nourishing our interest in self-knowledge and artistic expression.

A work of art is not only the reflection of the artist’s psyche but, in a deeply unconscious way, also of the collective subconscious. The artist within -which we all have- feels a compelling need to come closer to Pereira’s work, to relate to it, to understand it, to look at it, all of which produces a reflection of his own individual psychology.

3Through this approach, Francisco Pereira sculptures seem to go against the Creator’s order from the beginning of animal life. The break the establishes order, going against the natural order of things, they abandons their own space which belongs to the animal realm, averting the limits imposed to their existence and, because of this, he has evicted them from their own world and also from the human sphere, turning them into strange creatures, apprehensive towards our own “psiquismo”.

The irreverence of these principals is revealed in the creatures who perform acts of “hybris” (3), who break rules and destabilize the established order, the equilibrium and universal harmony. These Bipeds, bestowed with extravagant and out of proportion physiognomies, express in their long, hard and dense bones, resistance, structure and mobility, relating to our own search for interior psychic structures, values, principles, ideologies, beliefs and at the same time, also evidence  flexibility to change, to move forward in  decisionmaking processes; they represent the rigid and hard aspects, the deepest part of us on which we support ourselves.

The emphasis on these characteristics is achieved through a combination of psychological aspects and morphological human features, in psychological terms with equally negative and chaotic correspondence: a metaphor of a body forced by suffering that entails and facilitates psychic growth and soul making. The Bipeds act as exaggerations of incompatible characteristics with the Apollonian ideal of the human and animal being in general. They are borderline creatures, somewhere between the rational and the irrational, between the human and the beast, between the order and the barbaric, between the consciousness and the unconsciousness. The “Bestiario” encompasses the artist’s creative capacity to exhibit in his opus both beauty or ugliness, arousing feelings of fascination or repulsion, symbolizing the sublime or the abject, virtue or vice, order or chaos, arousing from within and from the observer, admiration or censorship.

The Bipeds constitute themselves into vehicles to generate psychic movements in those who come across these creatures, awakening probably aspects of the dark side we each have within and which we are many times in denial. The dynamics towards psychic development implies recognition and thereof, integration of the unconscious contents into out consciousness. The dual acknowledgement generated when we face these creatures, stimulates an emergence in our consciousness of phylogenetic reminiscences of our primeval evolutionary status prior to the Biped condition and its inherent animal unconsciousness. In this sense, a movement from underneath to the surface can be understood to commence at the human stage, when we walk.

While walking, a broader world appears before our eyes and requires a different way of relating to it with our own body and with the surrounding world. This is the evolutionary jump towards consciousness of the self, vis a vis the unconscious and instinctive that prevailed in the previous evolutionary stage. The straight walking position implies an open disposition towards a broader variety of life experiences, including the rational ability to face our own irrationality. Psychologically this translates into the birth of new psychic possibilities of living and of living life with our own dark aspects and shadows, which remind us constantly that we are made up of imperfections. This upward directionality which takes a “biped” shape obliges us to reflect on the emergence of spaces for optimism, joyfulness, vitality, ambition, hope, active exploration and improvement.

Furthermore, these hybrid beings can be seen, psychologically, as psychosomatic projections which infringe the stereotypes, present in our ethical, moral, social and religious spaces, among others, in the measure in which they reveal the multiple positive and negative aspects of our psyches. Therefore, we need to come closer to them with a symbolic outlook, granting them added value, which is the contribution to a greater consciousness of who we are.

Bibliography:

JUNG, Carlos Gustavo (1976). The man and his symbols. Contemporary Universal Lybrary . Barcelona.

JUNG, Carlos Gustavo (1999). Psychiatric studies. In works, Vol.1. Madrid. Editorial Trotta.

Aniela Jaffe (1976:237,238,239) suggests that “… animal motif tend to symbolize the primitive and instinctive nature of men. Even civilized men must realize the violence of their instinctive impulses and their impotence confronting autonomous emotions which arise from the unconscious”….”the animal demon is the most expressive symbol of such impulse. The vivacity and concretion of this image, allow men to relate with it as representative of the overwhelming power within. The person fears it and seeks for different ways in which to offer sacrifices and rituals”.

More so, this author asserts that “the unlimited profusion of animal symbolism in religion and art, throughout all times, merely underpins the importance of the symbol; it evidences how vital it is for men to integrate into their own lives the symbol’s psychic content, that is, the instinct. In of itself, an animal is not good or bad, it’s part of nature. What is not within nature cannot be desired.

This description is confirmed when observing Pereira’s boldness, which underpins the possibility of exposing the repressed contents of the human psyche’s metamorphoses, which takes place in the creative tension of the internal monsters in his unconsciousness –his Bipeds. In each one of these bronze figures we perceive a halo of mystery, of transgression, of opposition, malignity, danger, disobedience, rebellion, temptation, aversion, and at the same time, with their opposite: creativity, cleverness, freshness, spontaneity, independence, freedom and authenticity. All of which, taken together, triggers great fascination. Each artistic manifestation of Francisco Pereira in his work of art is a light of transformation which arises with a new psychological attitude towards life. They are insinuations of possible paths to mediate our repressed spaces --yet to be discovered—aiming at renewed consciousness.

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Elias Toro J.
Octuber 27, 2013

Today I had the opportunity of seeing the excellent collection of sculptures, entitled Bipedos, from my colleague Francisco Pereira. I believe it is of the best that we have seen in these ill-fated times. A lot of ingenuity and detailed work mounted on a careful observation of the anatomy of animals. In addition, it has very good foundry, which I think is a product of the Mathison workshop. My best wishes to Pereira.

https://www.facebook.com/elias.t.j.3?fref=ts

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Susana Benko
ArtNexus N°92 Volume 13, 2014 pages 74 and 75

In addition to dominating this type of art, Pereira has granted the sculptures a conceptual strength, converting them to a visual and emotional experience capable of generating ideas, associations, and diverse sensations in the viewer. In Bipedos, Francisco Pereira consolidates an interesting sculptural work and opens a new chapter of the figuratives in Venezuela.

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Mental Map

All work of art results from a creative process; nothing happens randomly and no piece of art is merely a gift of the muses. The path to mature an idea is a long one, inspired and backed by a depth of readings, sketches, work, life and soul experiences, all which nurture the unconscious’ flowerings.

In this page I present schematically the ideas underpinning the bronzes in this exhibition “Bipeds”. A collection of beastly figures (“Bestiario”) in which the human psyche’s transformation unfolds as if in an internal confrontation of the being; like an unending battle, an eternal search, a journey with no destination port through the dark valleys of Hades, advancing as if in the windy loneliness of Estigia in the midst of cold and withering shadows of unconsciousness. The artistic proposal in each of my pieces represents a transformative process conducive of a more evolved attitude towards life.

OPEN MENTAL MAP

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