Date(s) - 9th Jan 2024 - 9th Feb 2024
Cecilia Brunson Projects
VERNISSAGE: Tuesday 9th January from 6-8p
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 11a-6p
The first posthumous solo presentation of the work of Colombian artist Luis Caballero (1943-1995) in Britain introduces the viewer to the artist’s drawing practice in the last two decades of his life. Curated by Daniel Malarkey in collaboration with Cecilia Brunson Projects, the exhibition A deliberate defiance showcases not only the mastery of the artist’s line and draughtsmanship, but also his unparalleled ambition in creating his own visual language.
Luis Caballero’s paintings are an epitome of living. For the artist, the body alone could carry the weight of all the emotions and struggles that the human soul experiences all the while it draws breath. The male body is to Caballero what words and sentences are to a poet – it is his preferred language, as it is the body that he worships, that he believes in, that he wants to communicate with and understand.
Caballero does not make a distinction between a body that is his own and the one that belongs to another. When we look at his drawings, we are not looking at separate figures coming together in a carnal embrace or in strife. We are almost inspecting one and the same body over and over – the body of the artist and the body of his lover, the body of Christ, the body of every viewer who has ever succumbed to the agony of love. Caballero’s bodies have no faces – they are the artist’s reflection in the mirror, but they are also ours.
And yet, there is discomfort there. Just as in the monumental canvases of Francis Bacon, whose work Caballero became familiar with and was drawn to very early in his life, the urge to look confronts the desire to avert the gaze. With this break from the traditional male gaze into a fearless, openly queer viewpoint begins a conversation about what is allowed and what is not, what is intimidating and what is not, what is comfortable because it is set within an expected and agreed cultural framework, and what is not.
Edward Lucie-Smith, the writer, poet and art critic, who has followed and written about Caballero’s career for many years, traced the footsteps of Francis Bacon in his art. He argued that the closeness Caballero felt to Bacon did not come only from their shared artistic language of the body, but was also rooted in Bacon’s openness about his sexuality at a time when being gay was criminal. Born and raised in Colombia, one of the most doctrinal Latin American societies, a society he himself called ‘fanatical’ and ‘violent,’ Caballero grew up surrounded by a paradoxical abundance of the visual representation of male nude as an instrument of the Church, in an environment that cultivated contempt and shame for the naked human body.
-Essay by Bella Kesoyan
Published: 9th January 2024
Categorised in: Exhibitions - Other Artists