By Dermis P. León
When an object is in motion, that is, does not have a permanent location, it searches through space for a place where it could become an important entity. With Ciro Beltrán, such space is his work, being an artist, and the perseverance to be one.
And yet, it is difficult to detect the trauma of a romantic existence in his works; they also do not speak of a fissure with the complex process of identity-building. If his relocations somehow do influence his works, it happens within the realm of their own formal logic: within the realm of color and plane, where the artist explores its capabilities, as well as within an expansion of the painting which moves from the canvas to the realm of architecture, encompassing and shrouding it.
It is in this sort of pursuit emanating from the painting that a pattern of alternating places, climates, light, and language emerges. An inner landscape is expressed through references to urban and rural contexts.
The Carpet [Alfombras] Series appears in Germany in 1996 (which is important) during Beltrán’s studies at the Kunstakademie in Duesseldorf where to this day one can sense a clear influence of the work of Beays and the Fluxus Group. It was here, thanks to Spermuell (on certain days of the week, people put unnecessary things out into the street, things which are not considered garbage) that the artist discovered the anthropological materiality of a carpet as a vessel which harbors memories and at the same time a realm of artistic’architectural meanings.
This is where a series of particularly meaningful works emerged which broadened the boundaries of Beltrán’s painting towards thoughts which transgress artistic form and include questions of space.
They adopt the form of transient architectural constructions. The experiment which began with carpet does not, however, lead the artist to abandon painting in the more conventional sense of the word. In the more recent paintings, harmonies of green, gray, and orange undergo a change. Moreover, the centrally located form (expressed with a drawing) slowly disappears despite being so characteristic in his most recognized series of works in the 1990’s: the form of a mask, a pyramid, or abstract architectural constructions. This disappearance of this central drawing-type form is accompanied by the appearance of organic shapes on the surface of the canvas, placed throughout without any established hierarchy. At the same time, ever more thin layers of color, applied like delicate voile, give these works a new dimension within the painter’s visual plan much like the similarity between fog and reflections on the water which alter one’s perception of the landscape in southern Chile.
The transition towards a form devoid of a central figure was accomplished in drawings and paintings on paper. The Nepal Series defines the experimental space leading towards painting with a more loose formal structure and a greater fluidity of color; paintings created on a paper surface that stimulates the imagination and which bears the name of the part of the world where it comes from. Round forms appear in these works which the artist will later incorporate into larger-format easel paintings as well as subtle tones resulting from a dilution of color such as in watercolors.
Carpets, canvases, paintings on paper, bricks, drawings on walls, and other endeavors constitute achievements which are proof of the artist’s perseverance designed to create works belonging to the visual realm, and at the same time, not surrender oneself to the changing landscape. The work of art exists in a realm of its own logic and development. The result is painting that evolves from a figure-form towards a conceptual and refined abstraction.