Carmen Reategui

Visual Artist


“…and walk through the skin of another life…”

Edward Hirsch

By Ana María Rodrigo Prado

In this work, Carmen Reátegui seems to “touch” interesting, sophisticated, non-literal concepts, such as imagination, residue, the dual, absence/presence, light, color, brightness, ruin, fantasy and representation.

Reátegui does not want to tell us about a pre-Inca culture as an archaeologist or historian would.

She focuses on the gaps and the possible polysemy of the signs that we can read, on the shadows and dualities of the meanings of ambiguous, decomposed or fragmented signifiers, of the “remnants” that remain of ancestral cultures.

The way of approaching the “ruins” of this culture is quite abstract and “geometrizing”.

The artist “creates” a personal and suggestive image of the possibility of reconstructing the voids, absences, ruins of the past, from the imagination. It does not work with scientific data but with a personal poetic fantasy.
Like his contemporaries in today’s art, Reátegui makes use of painting, the always indicative installation, appropriation and representation.

The artist makes a stupendous installation of the totora reeds, the bamboos and the Klein blue, structuring it like many of her pieces: a three-body work where the center appears to differ from the canvases or elements on the sides. In this installation, color seems to shape the object that appears and, at times, almost disappears, as in the case of boats or bamboo trunks or poles.

The center is a geometric piece that can allude, as color does, by being and interacting with space and the feeling or idea of emptiness, of the figure (the bamboos) and the “empty”. And everything tells us about the sea and the immensity of the firmament.

This powerful blue appears in Klein but long before also in Giotto and, later, in Vermeer and then, among others, in Kandinsky. It is intense, elegant and chemically toxic. But it is an iconic blue, beautiful and highly prized. He talks mostly about space.

In other pieces of the sample, the structure of the triptych is repeated. In this piece in which the imagery of Chancay appears, basically with zoomorphic motifs, largely related to the fauna of the Coast and the sea and that are or are “geometrized”, as in many of the lacework of this culture. The structure of the triptych is flat, two-dimensional and again the center appears differentiated from the canvases on both sides. The images reproduced in the central “body” disappear, they are erased and above all the emptiness shines, the trace, the erasure, created, “constructed” in silver leaf. This metallic color, luminous, here is the presence of an absence.

The blue of space, of the waters and the skies, of immensity and emptiness is combined with the silver of earthly metal. Together they produce a fantasy, a product of imagination and culture, from the remnants of a civilization. Only imagination, creativity, can recreate History, the artist seems to tell us. And Reátegui’s gaze and work that suggests and creates or recreates, gives us only a glimpse of reality, but above all the product of the artist’s perception and vision.

Reátegui moves more and more towards abstraction. In two of his pieces there are no more than abstract signs that appear as the negative one of the other. Traces of a time and space, of a culture, of a way of doing things.

This trace or vestige makes us evoke an aesthetic that we have learned to internalize and that we come to like, to “touch”, perhaps even to reflect.

Chancay is the vehicle to achieve the recreation of signs, royal and symbolic blue, geometry, and use of the imagination.