Alexander, a provocative artist

Jul 1, 2017 | Opinions

By Andreina Mujica

Alexander Apostol lives and works between Madrid and Caracas since 15 years ago. His work addresses the representation and politics of Modernity in Latin America throughout its art and architecture. A provocative artist, Alexander exposes the failure of the progress and the 40 years of democracy. Also, he reflects on his errors that turn to videos, installations, or pictures.

He establishes the link between development and exclusion. He has taken part in the most important Biennials in the world of art: Prague, Cuenca, Istanbul, Turkey, Sao Paulo, Havana. About a decade ago, he got the first place in the 8th Biennial of Cuenca in Ecuador. I met Alexander at a Cafe in Madrid, Cafe Murillo, owned by a Venezuelan of those that chose a new life far from their homeland. Coincidentally, our conversation happened during a protest of taxi drivers in Madrid. The smell 0f powder from the firecrackers used in protests and the shouting slogans made us feel at home. Impossible not to talk about what is happening there that touches us no matter the distance.

“How to understand ourselves, that’s my work, not only through words and spaces but art and history, architecture history” explained Apostol. Works such as Avenida Libertador and Ensayando la Postura Nacional are projects before the longest video so far Contrato Colectivo Cromosaturado (2012). It introduces in six chapters the political and social identities of different Venezuelan groups by visual codes from the kinetic art. That relationship between public kinetic art and the democratic project in the 60s-70s were the starting point of Color is my business.

Sexuality and politics dress in colors to Apostol. His work has not stop being related to the intimacy and the collective since his beginnings in the Biennale of Sao Paulo. There, he showed Residente Pulido, selected for the sex guide of the city. Everything about him makes an impression, as Caracas did on him and it can be noticed in his work.

Presenting “Lecciones Políticas” (Political Lessons) in this time in Caracas is emblematic to him, a complete narration since AD, a political party in the 40s, to the coming to power of Chavez, the end of the democratic era.  The color is my business (2012-2014) gathers the representative colors of the Venezuelan political parties to identify the dominance, negotiation, influence, bribery, and corruption of each party, expressed through an unusual color palette or various shades of gray.

We have to analyze the 20th century. The lesson from the Chavismo has been very hard, but we could learn a lot from it. I don’t know if we are being punished for failing to take advantage of living in the democracy for 40 years. The political instability after Gomez, together with the idealization of the country in the 40s and the dictatorship in the 50s should be revised because, despite all the problems, the 40 years of democracy had their moments. Alexander emphasized as one who visits the country from memory and scrutinizes history from the word.

The wynwood times Alexander el Apostol
The wynwood times Alexander el Apostol

For years, I have worked on negotiations in the private and public sectors. I would like to believe that we have grown, but it is just an act of faith. I think that there has been a sort of growth, especially in those young guys that fight against Chavismo, even when it is the only government that they know. I believe in them. However, when I see people of my generation, who lived the two sides of Venezuela, I notice some remanent flaws highlighted by polarization. I am afraid of the consequences. I do not agree with killing the other, and it is so fine the line between accountability and a witch hunting that scares me.

I want to point out soon, that being Venezuelan means a big capacity for reconciliation.

Somehow, Alexander, concerned about his country, gives a feeling of calm, confident that changes will not stop and Venezuela is closing a (dark) cycle to begin a new one. It will not be easy, but the color will change. Maybe, the red will come back with the power of rebuilding instead of dividing and causing harm. Listening to him makes you feel that something amazing will come from such distress.

“Countries never end, and I know that the best of Venezuelans will come out to rebuild and make a better nation. We have to create a community identity, without divisions, the mindset of plundering is the enemy to beat.

We need reconciliation and to work together. Eventually, everything will grow in the union and the world of art will reflect it. Economic destruction has been brutal, and our governors are criminals. Why did they come to power? Because of that thinking that you are less or more valuable according to your party.  It existed before, to a lesser extent, but it did. Now, it has to end; it cannot be present in the construction of a new Venezuela. I try to understand the people that say “I detached from Venezuela.” Although it makes me want to slap them, I try to understand and do not disagree. I think that maybe their thoughts were of “plundering” and they did not care then or now, or they are so offended, so hurt that need to look the other way.

This is not the case of Apostol. He has just one way, his country, his identity, his steps through Caracas take him to himself. He is impressed with the commitment of many Venezuelan artists that have left the country. There are Latin American artists that forget their homeland, but not Venezuelans. Their deeper roots and commitment go beyond. Venezuela has its future in reflection, word, and image; a country united to overcome a dictatorship, and reconciled to start over.

Alexander is a man of discretion in constant reflection, a holistic artist. He knows Caracas from end to end, although he is from Barquisimeto. Alexander represented Venezuela at the Biennial of Venice in June 2011. Yamaikaleter (2010) is even more vibrant today. After a long time without any exhibit in his country, he is back to Venezuela to show “Lecciones Políticas”, that fits the bill.

APOSTOL IN CARACAS:

A collaboration with Miguel Miguel that presents a work proposed by the artist Yoko Ono. He shows a piece that is a vessel, a sort of offering, and she adds water.

This artistic exercise composed of 10 visitors resulted in a military flagpole, tall, chrome-plated and shining, titled «Asta Los Huevos.»

In the Gallery Beatriz Gil in Caracas, he opened a solo exhibition, from June 18th to September with “Lecciones Políticas.”

The wynwood times Alexander el Apostol
The wynwood times Alexander el Apostol