Carrara, Cardenas and Negritude

tue 16 JUNE 2015
With a major retrospective, Carrara pays tribute to a great sculptor who belongs to three continents. Works on display in various locations from Saturday, 11 July until 13 September.
Carrara – Old Town, Galleria Duomo, CAP Centre of Plastic Arts of Carrara. 

The summer 2015 in the centre of Carrara will be enhanced by a major retrospective entitled "Carrara, Cárdenas and Negritude" with which the town pays homage to the famous world renowned sculptor Agustin Cardenas and involves the entire town of Carrara from 11 July to 13 September. The exhibition offers the public monumental sculptures along a circuit through the old town (piazza Mazzini, via Roma, via Verdi) and an exhibition set in two important exhibition centres: the Galleria Duomo and the Centre of Plastic Arts of Carrara that are presenting the artist's works for the first time: sculptures in marble, wood, bronze, original plasters restored, temperas and drawings. The considerable body of work is accompanied by extensive documentation, which includes two unpublished portraits of Cárdenas taken by the historical photographer from Carrara, Ilario Bessi, printed on panels, numerous articles, catalogues, posters and a video of the personal exhibition, which is held at the same time at the Aktis Gallery in London.This engaging exhibition circuit features all forms of the artistic language of Agustin Cardenas, whose art expresses his belonging to three different continents: Latin America, Europe and Africa. In particular, "negritude", as the title of the exhibition quotes, refers to the artist’s African roots that emerge in his works through explicit elements such as totems and primitive symbols and implicit in the reference to myths, rites and traditions. The link to history and innovation alternate in the skilful use of different materials, in the rendering of rounded shapes or vertical surges, in the plastic volumes and essential tension. The core of monumental sculptures located in the old town centre including the Big bronze doors (1975, cm 200x200x30) and works in white marble - Boite à Musique (1968), Point Interieur (1969), La Question (1973) and La Grande Famille (80s) - communicate strength and harmony, thanks to the plastic synthesis and the scrupulous honing of the materials. These characteristics are apparent in the monumental works too on show at the Galleria Duomo, like Dogon (1971) in Belgian Black marble, Mon Ombre après minuit (1963, cm 243x77x10) in bronze, Le repos de l'oiseau (1981, cm 192x60x60) in white marble and the medium and small sculptures at the CAP, the Centre of Plastic Arts of Carrara, such as La Famille (1957), Le repos du petit oiseau (1981), Le Grande Tortue (1982) made in grey marble, pink marble and granite respectively, in the wooden works such as Le bois Carrara (1974) and in the bronze works such as Bouba (1974) and Le Coq (1974). In Cárdenas’s work forces attract and repel each other in a game of balance, for example, in Le Baiser (1974), where solids and voids unite masculine and feminine features in a harmonic structure. With great creativity, the artist has managed to translate human and natural forms through non-figurative elements, which retain a vitality and penetrating expressiveness. His originality also emerges from the way he pierces the sculptures in constant dialogue with the air, the light and the shade.Accompanying the exhibition is a colour catalogue with texts by Abigail McEwen, art historian and professor at the University of Maryland, Elena Malagodi Cárdenas and curator, Dominique Stroobant, sculptor as well as a selection of texts by leading critics and poets who have written about Agustin Cardenas over the years, There is also a striking image by the world famous photographer Martine Franck with the artist in front of the famous marble quarries of Carrara.The event (official opening Friday 10 July, 6 p.m.) is organised by Elena Cárdenas Malagodi and Eleonora Lombardi, promoted and organised by the Council of Carrara, the Galleria Duomo and the Association “Associazione Culturale Carrara Artistica” and is part of the Carrara Marble Weeks programme (19 June - 12 July, Carrara old town). 
Lorenzo Marchini 

BiographyAgustin Cárdenas (1927 - 2001), a world-renowned artist, was born in Cuba, where he lived until 1955, when, after obtaining a scholarship at the Academy of Fine Arts of San Alejandro, he moved to France, where he was welcomed by André Breton in the surrealist movement. He lives and works in Paris, and in 1964 began working in Carrara. In 1962, he exhibited with a solo exhibition at the Galleria Arturo Schwarz in Milan. Many other exhibitions followed: at La Bussola in Turin in 1969, the Galleria Lorenzelli in Bergamo in 1971 and in Milan in 2004. In 1997, the Refettorio delle Stelline in Milan devoted a large retrospective exhibition to him curated by Elena Cardenas Malagodi. From the sixties to the nineties he participated in numerous biennials of sculpture of Carrara, the town where he has made his marble sculptures for more than 30 years. The exhibition "The legendary world of Cárdenas" is worthy of mention. dedicated to him in 2012 in France, with sculptures on display in the Chateau de Biron and the splendid gardens of the Manoir d'Erignac.Throughout the course of his life, he has taken part in more than a hundred group exhibitions and forty solo exhibitions. His monumental sculptures are present in three continents: America, Europe and Asia and specifically in France, Austria, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, Japan, Israel and Korea. 
Those who have lent the works on show in Carrara are:The Càrdenas family, Elena Malagodi; Galerie Mitterrand, Paris; Lorenzelli Arte, Milano.
The exhibitionCarrara, Cárdenas and NegritudeCurated by Elena Cárdenas Malagodi and Eleonora LombardiLocations: Carrara – old town (piazza Mazzini - via Roma - via Verdi) - Galleria Duomo Carrara (via Finelli, 22 ) - CAP Centro Arti Plastiche di Carrara (via Canal del Rio)Dates 11 July - 13 September 2015Opening Friday 10 July, 6 p.m. Opening times: morning 9.30 - 11.30; evening 20-24; with the exception of Monday and Tuesday eveningInformation: Galleria Duomo tel. 0585-71839 - -