Ricardo Alcaide’s work derives from an acute and intuitive perception of the socio-spatial dynamics of the different cities he has lived in. Born in Caracas, having resided for more than a decade in London, and currently based in São Paulo. All of these distinct urban and social contexts provided him with a rich lexicon that has continuously informed his artistic practice over the years.
Despite working on his pieces in the studio, most of his pieces allude to his own experience of the city. This can occur either imperceptibly, namely when the artist explores abstract compositions in drawing or painting; noticeably, when he photographs the cityscape, its strangers and its official and unofficial architecture; and most evidently, when he selects and collects rejected materials from the streets. While the criteria might be variable, the common thread behind all of these choices is the artist’s discerning eye and instinct that prioritize those elements in which he perceives a hidden second ontology allied with a sculptural, pictorial and/or architectural potential.
Even though Alcaide’s work often starts-off from a direct connection to the experience of the city, the resulting pieces move away from a predefined comprehension, mainly because the artist reworks their formal qualities to the limit of abstraction. With this maneuver he simultaneously widens the array of possible interpretations and creates a sense of déjà vu that throws us back to the visual vocabulary and bodily experience we have inherited from the streets. Nevertheless, his work does not duplicate this experience, instead it recounts a marginal story, one of a “parallel city” which paradoxically results from the refuse and consumption of the “official” and hegemonic metropolis.
Throughout his career, the artist has frequently used a modernist aesthetic, taking advantage of its capacity to create timeless and ideologically-charged settings, using modernist buildings as backgrounds or frameworks in which he juxtaposes unsteady shapes or elements that allude to the improvisation and precariousness of ordinary day-to-day living. His main intent goes beyond reaffirming the “failure of modernism” or the unfulfilled modernity in Latin America. Instead, this operation points at a deeper questioning of the relation between social and spatial hierarchy and the ideological use of architecture and urbanism. Ultimately generating tensions between idealized notions of space, and the reality of their physical manifestation and day-to-day appropriation.
This interest in the co-habitation between these seemingly antagonistic realms is at the core of Alcaide’s practice, together with a fascination with subjects that are marginalized and cast out by a society which permanently discards its rubbish and history, creating a culture in which anything that appears to be old, precarious, obsolete or misplaced, is simply ignored or rejected. The artist’s deep interest in constructed lived environments and the residues that gravitate around them can be understood as his own way of shaping a quasi-anthropological investigation on a peripheral humanity within the city, focusing on all those manifestations that are outcomes of economic, social and spatial exclusion, but still manage to make and break the cityscape.
Bruno de Almeida | 07.01.2016