About the fragile, delicate paintings of Carlos Caballero.
The fact that contemporary painting tolerates versatility and diversity is a sign that it still holds a broad and relevant expressiveness. Abstract painting — not directly referring to lifelike subjects and themes — is overshadowed by the recent success of pictorial expressions where technical bravado and skills are coupled with detailed storylines.
It is remarkable that, in our country as well, recent modern painting history shows that rural expressionism always prevails over the more urban and utopian abstract, non- figurative art. Among other things, this has to do with an ideology that may or may not attract the taste for art whose comprehension lies at the boundaries of the (un)recognizable motif on canvas. In his socks, Carlos Caballero works on a tranquil body of work in which no significant stylistic turning points can be detected.
His ‘silent’ oeuvre is like a fresh ripple of water, floating on the processing of nuances, details and compositional-spatial shifts, both in terms of color and motif.
His paintings are usually of a small size; a format that allows him to work in a concentrated and precise manner. The images appear immaculate, almost geometrically exact and reveal very little tangible information. The viewer finds him- or herself in a thin dialogue with a visual language that remains cryptic-abstract. And yet, when putting your patience to the test, it becomes clear that the motifs in the paintings refer partly to typography and the suggestions of architectural details. Carlos Caballero’s paintings don’t ‘cry out’ this information; the use of softly and evenly applied acrylic paint brings peace and allows the (attentive) viewer to narrate the story. The monochrome, flat paint lends itself perfectly to the sparse introduction of ‘elements’ that, independent of each other, start a ‘conversation’. One could describe this ‘living’ oeuvre, constant and slowly progressing, as a linear pictorial sequence.
Hard Edge design trumps any trace of visible personal gesture. The perfect execution seems ‘mechanical’ but is still the result of patiently, masterly and ‘concretely’ painting motifs that occasionally beckon and/or wink at reality. The composition of the separate motifs is not fixed and is sometimes at odds with each other; clearly the artist’s intuition plays a key role in the search for peace and balance. Punctuation marks and other stylized characters refer to slowing down the pace of perception; the titles remain enigmas – keys that don’t always match a lock. Painted surfaces in and on top of other surfaces tend towards a layered, unreadable content. The motifs, positive or negative space suggestions, leave behind the content-hungry viewer, eager to decipher the image. Painting after painting, the ambivalence and ambiguity of this visual language interlink like train carriages, weaving together like non-sequential pages of a novel.
The punctuation marks, which are reminiscent of the characters on a computer keyboard, reveal a typographical background. In Caballero’s tactile-fragile oeuvre, figuration is mostly out of the question, with the exception of one work: “Row” (2020). Here, two graphic motifs, referring to torsos, are painted in line one under the other – perfectly in rhythm with two ‘circumflex’ computer keys, one painted ‘upside down’.
In the French language, this sign indicates the correct pronunciation of a word. Here, the sign is immediately doubled upside down, rendering its logic and ‘direction’ partly useless. Caballero applies this particular ‘vocabulary’ both in color mixtures and in the
sparse selection of characters.
Carlos Caballero’s paintings can be regarded as one permanent process in which every hint at content and spectacle is avoided. This oeuvre is modestly reduced to a grand mini-universe that functions as a wonderful projection field for all possible interpretive associations that lie within the mental range of the viewer. The oeuvre of Carlos Caballero fits in nicely with the influence of ‘concrete’ poetry, which is a particularly gentle thought.