With this exhibit at the Obra Gallery, the art critic and visual/conceptual artist Pedro Vélez shows us a glimpse of what is to come as a selected participant for the Whitney Biennale of New York, opening during this year. We are gratefully pleased that the prestigious white Whitney Museum of Art has chosen Pedro Vélez as a token Puerto Rican (Hispanic, Latin-American?), along the extra tokens, to present what is cooking behind the cocina of this marvelous artist. When Pedro was living and working in Puerto Rico he was well known for his writings of incisive knowledge, profound cultural background and artwork. He worked in different places and areas but the ‘fan hit the shit’ (or vice-versa) happened when, as an Art Professor in the University of el Sagrado Corazón (a Catholic estate) the powers that be tried to make his life miserable. Afterwards, and tired of the hot sun, the ‘perfect government procedures’ and the art scene on the island, he moved to Chicago.
For my archaic art taste and frigid mind – I am a man over 80 something – Pedro’s art seemed to me a little bit anarchic and/or detached, but after a second look (or third contemplation in the 5th dimension), and listening to his cryptic ramblings… I finally came to a sort of epiphanic mind bugling understanding. Pedro’s art is never finished because he’s is a type of work that is in constant turmoil and metamorphosis. As he said to me on my visit: “… as you can see from the works displayed in here, they will change somehow when showed at the Whitney, because the environment places a big part in the disposition of my work.” At first glance you may have a sense of disconnection between subject matter and execution, as different themes are treated in different mediums and aesthetics, but what unifies all the cumulus is their optical criticism of a social (moral?) value nature. Yes, you may find traces of Graffiti, Art Povera, Junk Art, High-Low Eye Brow Art, Ephemeral Art, Situationalist, Neo-Dada, Experimentalist and even Brut Art, but at the end of the day its Pedro’s Art! His is the result of a temperamental provocateur mind with an ultra-sensitive eye for what is wrong or twisted in our times, and so his work tries to portrait these universal, conventional truths in an unconventional way, over and over in each piece.
But there is a catch here! When reality takes over, as a couple in love falls apart after the veil of smog is gone…, how can you partake in an institution that overpowers and dictates the same system of rules, polarization and fashion that the artist himself rejects or denies? This is the big question of our times. Hating and loving at the same time. But nevertheless, Art, now days, starts where the Establishment fails and as a draconian monster that same Establishment will swallow the artist as a toothless hag swallows a banana, bringing him or her to its irremediable side. As simple as that. Anyway, this exhibit reminds me of a song that was on the beat when I was a little boy working as a merchant sailor for the Start-Kit Tuna, in Puerto Rico. The name of the song was “New York New York” by Frank Sinatra, waiting for the promised land of milk & honey. Don’t we all, creative souls, believe in it? Haven’t I, still believe in it after so many years (80 y/o or so) of this Kantian longing? I believe in it as I believe in Frank, God or the Phantom of the Opera. And who of us do not want to believe it? That renegade man (or woman) should be put out of recycling! – or at least, put him/her in jail to rot throwing away the key in the middle of the vast sea.
Yes, I believe IT because we are true believers! Here in Puerto Rico we have a homologous illuminati character (Reverend Rashki) that also has direct contact with The Maker and is always chit-chatting with Him by satellite trance, brain waves, smoke signs or advanced techno gadgets. When a country is in perils old/new signs of fascism dormant under the epidermis of the popular soul will start popping out: religious obscurantism, bold discombobulated double-talk, confusing triple-faced stances, snobbish and folky abstract symbols will replace human endeavor and philosophical reasoning, constant confrontation by military means take the lead in an schizophrenic madness of a paranoid kind and fantastic psychedelic magic will invade peoples entrails to view themselves as superior by race, culture, language, life style, destiny and idiosyncrasy. These will be imposed by force or colonization onto others, posing the victims and the victimizers as the carriers of a Universal Truth by holding power onto a vengeful might constantly oppressing the masses by hypnosis, with the object of spreading a feeling of overpowering paralysis, instead of provoking sensible analysis and self-criticism. Faith in these paradigms are repeated like a mantra over and over, “I am good, I am good, I am good, we are good, we are good, etc.” through the multiple media with the sole purpose of causing fear and outrage upon the seduced and brainwashed public. Automatically, this sate of continuous fluid ignorance and self-impotence will finally stir them up to react without hesitation in a zombie like spasms to the Powers machiavellic purposes. It’s easy! God speaks in different tongues and is manifested all thru a plethora of mediums: fashion, sports, TV main culture, non-conventional sub-cultures, avant-garde hype, pharmaceutics, trafficking, scientific tinkering, political & social propaganda and art in all its manifestations. But one language the Lord knows extremely well is the language of BIG $$$$, Corporate Fortune 500 style. Can yo dig it? That’s what’s behind Him (USA) as a… holly mandate (Constitutional Right?) all over the Universe. In other words: if you are not within His Wave (meaning: the USA commercial interests), you will pay for it, and you will still pay for it even if you are within His Wave. Genocide and mass control are revisited & hidden behind the hexagram of a coveted civilian “democratic”, “human rights” grotesque fascist/humanist front cover. – See how the spooky hairy Ape hand of the empire ‘strikes back’ is behind the uprising in Venezuela, the ‘civil war’ in Syria, the genocide in Iraq, the revolt in Egypt, the Palestine situation, the historical multi-interventions in Latin-America, Africa, and over 200 invasions (more invasions than what they have as a constituted nation) in the history of God’s Land while maintaining millions of tons and money of a destructive menace floating like mindless rubber duckies around the planet like an invisible shadow of Nuclear Hell? – . Blood, blood, blood for OIL! What else were you thinking about?
As far as I know, God told me (this morning at about 6:00 am. He appeared to me in the image of an immense white goat with a false gouty of a cheap Walgreens Uncle Sam disguise) that I’ve been saved! Are you saved? Ask yourself: Am I saved? I ask you because World War III is around the corner. I can see the metaphor in Pedro’s images. It’s plain to see! These are samples of the last images you are going to view before, much before the ‘final solution’! Can you feel it? I am already seeing (and feeling) my particles – along with my wheelchair et all – going up in a vaporizing fog via a cellular extrapolation of a marvelous, captive and divine hydrogen blowout. In the meanwhile; let’s smoke this bazooka! “1984” is here to stay until the world, as we have imagined it, will last. Great exhibit! Praise the Lord! The rest is crap!