The Sammer Gallery just opened its doors in the Lower East Side with a particularly impressive solo show “Wheels and Cylinders” by Uruguayan artist Ricardo Pascale, born in 1942.
Upon entering the gallery, the visitor is greeted by a massive sun sculpture made out of a richly saturated wood that stands as a warning: one is entering the artist’s dimension. A forest of sculptures of different sizes and shapes, from circles to rectangles to columns, awaits the viewer. Once among the works, the visitor is struck by the specificity of Pascale’s sculptures: shapes made out of meticulously assembled geometrical forms give rise to surprisingly organic structures.
Choosing his materials in the South American forest of Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, Pascale prefers remnant and discarded wood for his sculptures. He puts together complicated structures of carefully chosen pieces that result in simple and harmonious lines. Heirs of the School of the South, the geometric forms of Constructive Universalism find new expression in the hands of Pascale. Universal constructivism, or Arte Constructivo is an innovative artistic language developed by Joaquin Torres Garcia combining European Constructivism and Native American cultural symbolism. This language was based upon order and measures and it aimed to become the source for social and cultural unity for the Uruguayan people. Far from a Minimalist essence, Pascale’s geometrical sculptures can be perceived as biological, primitive, architectural, and totemic. Indeed the particularity of Pascale artworks is his ability to couple the innovative visual forms of Constructivism with the more primeval language of mankind. The circle is a recurrent form of his sculptures, referring either to the Sun or the Moon ancestral deities worshiped by the Incas as their Mother and Father. This influence can still be found in Latin America daily life: for example, the presence of a Sun on the Uruguayan and Argentinean flags. This symbolism, present in each piece is reinforced by the use of wood: a natural material coming from the living forest of Latin America, and a proof of Pascale cultural attachment. The hard material requires strong labor from the artist, who uses it both raw or highly polished. The tactile duality between the raw and the polished wood reinforces the opposition between the desire to impose human control unto the material and the desire to let it speak for itself. Interestingly, the constant duality present in each of Pascale’s artworks, between geometric and organic, the raw and the industrial, the control and deliberate letting go, was also a founding compound of Inca mythology.
To achieve these elemental forms, Pascale gives a high level of attention to balance, movement, and tension. The shapes range from the biomorphic and organic to the geometric and mathematical, which is not a coincidence for the artist. Indeed Pascale’s own career trajectory mirrors the duality in his work. He was introduced to drawing and painting as a child, and has been practicing these activities with varying emphasis, since then. However, despite his high interest in artistic practice, he chose a different road. He graduated from the School of Economics and Administration of the University of the Republic of Uruguay in 1966. Later, he obtained a Diploma in Post-Doctoral Studies in Finance from the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1969 he competed for the Chair in Finance at his alma mater, a position he holds to date. In his economic career, in which he continues to be active, he has published numerous texts and articles. Upon his country’s return to democracy in 1985 he was called to hold the office of President of the Central Bank of Uruguay, which he held from 1985 to 1990 and again from 1995 to 1996. Under his presidency at the Central Bank, the Pedro Figari Visual Arts Prize was created and has been maintained to date. In the same period the Central Bank began organizing its own art collection, curated by Alicia Haber, Neslon Di Maggio and Alfredo Torres. Today it is one of the most important collections of Uruguayan contemporary art.
As if living the very duality exemplified by his work, the same year of his second term as President of the Central Bank saw Pascale’s own creative expression given voice. He had his first solo show in 1995 at the hall of the Alianza Cultural Uruguay-Estados Unidos in Montevideo. Later that same year he had solo shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the first of a series of national and international exhibitions. In 1999 he was invited to participate in the Venice Biennale representing Uruguay. Since then, the artist has had solo, as well as group shows all around Latin America, Europe, and the United States. His works are part of numerous museums and private collections in Europe, Asia, South and North America. His sculptures are also installed in public spaces and buildings in the United States, Europe and Latin America.
The Sammer Gallery launched its first venture in 2002 in Miami where is now has a 3,000 square feet space in the flourishing Wynwood art district. The Director, Ignacio Pedronzo, originally from Uruguay also opened an affiliate gallery in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. Pedronzo chooses for his gallery spaces a panel of established artists representative of the most important Latin American art movements such as Geometric Abstraction and Constructivism.