Ricardo Rendón

Intricate simplicity

By Paula Braga. | January 08, 2015

At the core of Ricardo Rendón's artistic process is the notion that there are endless possibilities of creation starting from an already given set of elements.

Ricardo Rendón

Certainly, every artistic creation is characterized by a singular rearrangement of materials aimed at achieving a new form. Pure creation, in the sense of making something out of nothing, is a naïve ambition. The artist can only rearrange matter into new forms. As stated by Hélio Oiticica, who learned it from Yoko Ono, the role of the artist is not to create things. Everything is already given, what else could one create? The role of the artist is to change the value of things.

Ricardo Rendón knows it well, and emphasizes transformation as the only possible act of creation. In the artist's own words, his production is “a system of inquiry into creative practice.” His strategy is to rearrange matter -- since creating matter is not possible -- mirroring a vital flow of continuous transformation.

A passage from Henri Bergson's The creative evolution explains the beauty of engendering new form in a world made of a fixed amount of matter:

Consider the letters of the alphabet that enter into the composition of everything that has ever been written: we do not conceive that new letters spring up and come to join themselves to the others in order to make a new poem. But that the poet creates the poem and that human thought is thereby made richer, we understand very well (...) Thus, that the number of atoms composing the material universe at a given moment should increase, runs counter to our habits of mind, contradicts the whole of our experience; but that a reality of quite another order, which contrasts with the atom as the thought of the poet with the letters of the alphabet, should increase by sudden additions, is not inadmissible;[1]

Rendón's alphabet is based on the circle, a simple shape he applies to different materials, obsessively, jumping from felt to cardboard to wood, as if he were unable to stop the endless movement of his hands. In this sense, Rendón follows the tradition of imitating nature that is so dear to the history of art. However, instead of imitating what nature produces, he reenacts nature's endless force of production. The mimesis in Rendón's works aims at the natura naturans (nature naturing), instead of reproducing the passive result of nature's force, the natura naturata (nature natured).

Therefore, do not expect to recognize preexistent forms. The focus here is on bringing to the world a form nature itself has not yet produced. The installation Bosque desnudo is derived from the repetitive movement of chiseling rings around tree trunks. The result is unlike any natural forest, and yet the roughness of the pieces, revealing the original matter, suggests a form giving power analogue to nature's creative power. In Naturaleza posible the golden circular areas emphasize the circle again, showing that Rendón's choice of basic shape is naturally present in the structure of natura naturata, which places his obsessive gesture closer to the acts of the natura naturans.

In most pieces that deal with two-dimensional surfaces such as fabric, the movement of “making circles” is repeated over and over, until emptiness surpasses matter on the original surfaces. In Área de Corte industrial felt is repeatedly perforated. When the holes join together, the result is emptiness, framed by an intricate border, giving birth to “a reality of quite another order", as we read in Bergson's quote. In Patrones de trabajo (estados de transformación) voids cut out gracious curves in what would otherwise be a monotonous straight line, voids that need not be filled, matter that is made more malleable by the voids, and that gives itself to being folded in several forms, revealing its potential multiplicity.

Following a rule that applies also to wood and cardboard pieces, the discs subtracted from the original surfaces remain on the floor, piled in delicate mountains. In Sin límite, a wood panel has been covered with a golden layer before being perforated. Ironically, the golden discs on the floor look like coins, perhaps in reference to our contemporary emptiness. Another possible reading for the recent use of gold in Rendón's pieces points to the golden light that for centuries was related to transcendental realms in artworks. The golden emptiness thus might refer to a search for meaning that unfortunately one cannot fulfill, in the same way one cannot rebuild completeness by reinserting on the wood the little coins scattered on the floor.

The golden light receives a more contemporary approach in Hacia una arquitectura posible. Light here is fluorescent and cold, connected to copper pipes, as if it could flow through the concrete walls. The reference to Minimalism is clear, denying transcendence, validating materials and forms. In Equilibrio y Concentración the pipes become thin lines that connect dots, weaving a complex maze that ends on a golden weight that pulls everything towards the earth. No matter how much we would like to use art as a connection to a heavenly world, Rendón insists that there is mystery and magic enough in the material world, in the power of transformation of matter into new forms.

All the acts, all the gestures, mainly the repetitive ones, mold the world. There is no transcendental power executing this job; it is by rearranging matter, transforming it into a new shape, that reality is continually generated. The artist cannot create anything. Everything has already been created. His role is to change the form of matter, to change the value of things.


[1] BERGSON, Henri. A Evolução Criadora, op.cit., p. 260-262