Solano Cardenas
« The Light and Roving Things »

[…] clouds as well, insensible clouds
that appear and disappear in a clear sky;
and other light and roving things.
Umberto Saba, Ritratto della mia bambina.

The “light and roving things” evoked by Umberto Saba in his delicate poem Portrait of My Little Daughter may in some way be likened to the fantastic constructions of Solano Cardenas. In these works the lightness takes on form in the abstraction of a discontinuous material that flies toward the inaccessible heights of thought.

A child who is destined to become an artist plays with kites, and in his obsession with growing up sets out to retain the lightness of plein air work: lightness is the talisman that helps him to bear the anxiety of growth and allows him to let time glide by without being involved with reality, irresponsible and inaccessible like an elf.

When I went to Solano’s house in Paris I had a singular experience: his works came to me even before the artist himself had the time to show them to me. His large kites, surreal totems that reveal ephemeral hopes, have the nature of air and the undisciplined purity of Ariel.

The widespread intensity of all these flying surfaces produces continuous vibrations, but what is it that rouses our curiosity and leads us to ask the fateful question: do they really fly? Because we always feel the need to subject everything to the level of verification, the minimum and meaningless dimension of our everyday life. Because we are unable to admit that reality can be reflected in the mirror of a work of art. We need only observe reality with the apparently distracted eyes of a child to make it take flight, rising toward the inexplicable confines of the infinite.

Solano is an artist and he has a light touch; the perception of his oeuvre overflows with authentic stimuli that refer to the imaginary universe of a parallel world that is absolutely extraordinary, filled with apparitions.

The fragments of his modus operandi are concentrated and are dispersed in the immediate illusion of an instant; the fleeting instant of a transitory thought takes on form in his sculpture, in which voids and solids, space and matter, complement one another. The matter loses its way in the inextricable paths of an abstract vocabulary and reappears in the passion of this feverish procedure, as if forged by the insolent irony of an expert illusionist.

Every sculpture narrates a story. There is the antecedent of a genesis and the perceived echo of an end, the alpha and omega of every possible existence; there is the declaration of an embrace, or better, of a fusion, that liberates the embrace in the bond of the senses, whether this can be perceived in two boomerangs that meet or in the union of two forms/figures that are easily recognizable.

If the artist is that sensitive human being we are so used to recognizing, and if with his works he succeeds in removing all possibility of tragedy from existence, what can we still expect from art? The sudden, unexpected tension that springs from the form and transforms it into matter is really the possible declaration of artifice. The boy who tries to arrest time will end up wearing out his heart: it is preferable to rely on the agile and insubstantial flight of a kite, it is better to try to live in a slower present, rather than pursue the unknown quantities of a frenetic future.

When Solano’s creations take on form they become pure life that unfolds and moves in all directions: the matter becomes incorporeal; it tends to rise and in the embrace of instantaneous flight seeks the inaccessible heights of consciousness.

The awareness of thought, an indispensable instrument for the rediscovery of the primary values of humanity, is the only possible means to achieve redemption. But what are the enemies of our fragile equilibrium? Is it the senseless strategy of the ‘predator’ who fascinates us with mere appearances, only to end up destroying its substance? Or is it the shattering of that collective dream that has disintegrated an entire universe of words in the ecstatic illusion of a vision?

Too many questions without an answer: it is best to trust to luck and take new, unfamiliar paths until we find the lesser known shortcuts, and get lost in the off-beat alleyways of art: tiny niches sheltered from clamor, where one can regain one’s lost identity.

Solano is an authentic artist who has never avoided the risky adventures of his craft. His temperament is constantly searching for an unstable equilibrium. The purity of his oeuvre continuously stimulates him to seek, to develop his hand and eye to the point in which the lightest breath of his creations becomes the expressive mark of his being an artist: both ancient and contemporary.

In his works the striking contrast between black and white evokes a work filled with apparitions: echoes, shadows, figures, mirror images, all of which interrupt the sense of the real and sow the doubt that even the most luminous side of things has its dark opposite. The shadow, which again acquires its own light when it turns around, is completed in these surreal forms and reappears as a sort of dazzling snapshotof a new epiphany.

Those airy signs that move with the wind, the small abstract ‘weathervanes’ that traverse the sky of our experience – are nothing more or less than the inexpressible confine between order and disorder that indicates to us the high road toward the mysterious meaning of existence.

Take a look at Solano’s face when his obedient creatures take flight: it is a face the reveals the supreme poise of the heart. The colors in his light paper creations blend with the blue sky and thus become a landscape within a landscape. In that precise moment all the treasures of existence are mixed up in the immediate liberating sensation of that flight.

The boy who does not intend to become a man reveals his childlike soul and smiles with the restless trepidation that echoes distant sites of regained and renewed happiness.

Stefano Cecchetto