Innovations in geometric abstraction by Colombian artist Mario Vélez on view at Gallery Elena Shchukina

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Innovations in geometric abstraction by Colombian artist Mario Vélez on view at Gallery Elena Shchukina
Installation view. Photo: Courtesy of Gallery Elena Shchukina and the artist.

LONDON.- Gallery Elena Shchukina is presenting Canto Rodado, an exhibition of painting, drawing, and sculpture by Mario Vélez.

With a field of reference that spans Colombian history from the pre-Columbian era through today, Mario Vélez interprets Latin American visual culture through the lens of abstract and expressionist art. His work lies in the tradition of geometric abstraction pioneered by Kandinsky and Af Klint, but his idiosyncratic motifs and colour choices are inspired by the natural and built environments of Colombia. He balances a cerebral focus on formal geometry with a playful, organic use of shape and colour.

Mario Vélez describes his artistic aim as being ‘to reconnect, in some ways, to the primeval status of our culture – to embrace once more the essence of the past.’

Vélez revels in the tension between the rigid and the dynamic, using the coordinate grid as a starting point from which to investigate patterning and spatial relationships. The unruly shapes in the foreground seem to break free from the lattice behind them to float inscrutably across the canvas, with some shapes clustering together while others hang alone. His geometric figures are characterised by an indeterminacy that draws from the enigmatic beauty of indigenous art. The textured ellipses that fill his work refer obscurely to the natural world, but they might equally denote seeds, boulders, or planetary arcs.

Vélez builds on the paradigm established by early Latin American abstractionists such as Joaquín Torres García and Alfredo Hlito, who synthesised elements from indigenous and modernist art to create a new, post-colonial visual lexicon. His fusion of multiple artistic traditions reflects his belief in art’s ability to transcend national, temporal, and linguistic barriers.

In Vélez’s words, ‘our common heritage is… a sensation that survives in ourselves, and is transmitted by the medium of painting’.

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