Carlos Cruz-Diez

Sicardi Gallery, Houston

By Fernando Castro R. | January 21, 2013

The 2010 retrospective exhibition “Carlos Cruz-Diez: Across Space and Time” at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston literally left a mark in the city. In front of the museum his designs have remained painted on the crosswalks. At age eighty-nine the Venezuelan pioneer of Kinetic and Op art continues to work vigorously at his studios in Panama and Paris.

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Currently Sicardi Gallery is hosting a show of some of his most recent works. The spacious rooms of the gallery allow the viewer to experience works like the twenty-six feet long Physiochromie Panam 94 (2011) as Cruz-Diez always intended: so that he/she can interact with it by moving along the work. As the viewer stands right in front of the work he/she sees green, yellow, orange and blue stripes. When the viewer moves to the right of the work, he/she sees blue/white stripes; whereas from the left end, the stripes look red and black. These effects are not only technical, they are also perceptual. Cruz-Diez is a member of a movement that researched color, optics, movement, and perception.

At nearly ninety years of age Cruz-Diez is as seriously playful as he was half a century ago —as evidenced in the ephemeral site-specific chromography-on-vinyl work Inducción Cromática a Doble Frecuencia Bacino (2012). While it is indeed true that Cruz-Diez is committed to an aesthetic tradition in which figuration is anathema, any viewer will see in this work shapes flying across the color stripes that have to be as intentional as the rectangles in Inducción Cromática A (2012). These shapes may not represent something specific, but neither do they have the angularity or predictable geometry of his usual repertoire of virtual imagery. Neither are these works that are borderline representational new. One can trace them back to works like Physiochromie # 42 (1961), but the current ones are much more subtle . As exuberant as his 2010 MFAH retrospective exhibition was, it is always a gift to see the most recent works of Carlos Cruz-Diez.