Jade DELLINGER: You titled your 2003 solo exhibition at Art Space Virginia Miller Galleries in Miami "In Search of Significance" and often seem to find deeper meaning in the use or appearance of numbers. Can you tell me why you chose "Stage 16" as the title for this important exhibition at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, and about your recent painting (included here) that shares the name and number as subject?
Arturo CORREA: People, situations and events are presented to us every single day of our lives. It is like having a big stage right in front of our eyes in which we can not control situations, but we can certainly choose how to react to them. Furthermore, we can be actors in this beautiful and complicated play that we tend to call life...
An extremely painful event took place on May 16, 2006. It turned my life and work upside down. Every day trying to overcome that pain and learning from it has been an enriching experience on my path as an artist and more important as a human being..
JD: I see your work as a celebration and generally rather life affirming. It stimulates thought, but also emanates a greater sense of balance, beauty and positivity. There is a rich complexity that belies and seems to reflect the complexities and joys of life. What draws you to a particular subject, and how does the work in this exhibition extend or expand narrative themes you've explored in the past?
AC: Life itself is the essence of my artwork. Before being an artist, I am a human being.
Everything that I have done as a visual artist entails subject matter dealing with different stages in life. I always make an enormous effort to try and portray the “good” out of every situation, whether it is positive or negative.
JD: This catalogue is dedicated to your brother "Coley" and our late friend and esteemed art patron Dr. John Fenning. Presumably they provided inspiration for this project, but do you see their legacies extended through the work you are exhibiting or feel their presence here in ways you might articulate?
AC: My brother and my friend John had something important in common, PASSION... passion for what they did... passion for what they like... passion for who they were... passion for life...
When passion is present, their legacy lives on. Passion plays a very important role on “STAGE 16”...
JD: You have an extraordinary sense of color and an uncanny ability to create compelling compositions - juxtaposing both representational and abstract forms. What is at the heart of the message you wish to communicate with this exhibition, and, given the political instability and violent protests on-going in your native Venezuela, what are you hoping to say with the inclusion of related video and recent paintings like "Solo en el Chimborazo (Alone at the Chimborazo)" (2014)?
AC: My compositions are a kaleidoscope of experiences and images of my every day life. In STAGE 16, I created an assorted number of art works with a wide range of elements screaming to make a statement. The audience will have an opportunity to react and connect the different characters and situations in the paintings. This will allow them to learn from the statements or make up their own significance of each piece.
Just like a window, the paintings on exhibit, provide us with scenery that can not be changed. The secret is how we react and how we reconnect the elements in the art work to our individual lives.
I also take the risk of using some of the walls of this exhibition to portray a domestic situation in my native Venezuela. Today Human Rights are being violated by the Venezuelan regime. Violation of Human Rights is an universal topic. Young students are risking their lives in the streets of this South American nation in the quest for liberty and justice. It is my wish to demonstrate a small portion of this unrest to the audience through my art work.
JD: As you know, in the 1980's Bob Rauschenberg travelled to Caracas on his Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (R.O.C.I.) tour. His rather idealistic goal was to spread peace and to unite peoples around the globe through art. As I have followed in his footsteps to Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Malaysian, Japan and China over the last couple of decades, it is evident just how profoundly his impact continues to be felt. Do you still believe in the power of art to affect social and political change, and what would you have us (your audience and viewers) do after experiencing this exhibition?
AC: Jade, in 1985, I went with my parents to see the Rauschenberg exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Sofia Imber in Caracas. I was 18 years old... I still, today, see myself in the museum admiring and wondering what this great artist was trying to communicate. It definitely made an impact on my way of viewing and understanding art. In addition, it made me realize how powerful art can be in our evolution as human beings.
I am a firm believer that art still has the power to create change in all spectrums of life. Social media, for example, is essential for artists to convey a message to the public who are constantly trying to find meaning of their own existence.
My job will be complete if my audience understands that it is up to us to make the connection... the connection between people, elements and situations... the connection to start laughing or to start crying... to believe or not believe ... it is up to us to make the connection to start experimenting what being a human being is all about...
Bob Rauschenberg Gallery
Fort Myers, FL, USA