African Patterns

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Deity Two

deity Two
Deity Two. GifArt animation, 1200x1200px, 2022

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Deity One

Deity One, Gif Animation, 1200 x 1200 px, 2022

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African Patterns

by Natalia Moreno

African Patterns ultimately alludes to the Duchampian concept of art as a game between people of all ages.

Carlos Marrero (alias Chr5) recovers the historical African influence in the process of subjectivation of the inhabitants of the Canary Islands through works inspired by the aesthetics of pintaderas, small clay or mud objects typical of the aboriginal culture of the Islands decorated with geometric shapes whose utility is related to a kind of personal mark or stamp. Artists of the stature of Manolo Millares and Martín Chirino – among many others who joined in the recovery of the dialogue with the Guanche origins of the islands initiated by the Luján Pérez School – made use of these objects in their work. It is perhaps the most relevant reading of all this to observe how the pintaderas went from appearing exclusively in anthropological museums to finding their place, in their own right, in contemporary art museums, even landing, through the work of Chr5, in the most innovative artistic platforms.

Although the graffiti as a sign of personal identity has today been replaced, among other means, by the digital signature, it is worth asking ourselves: Are there still traces of this aboriginal identity left in the current inhabitants of the Canary Islands? African Patterns stresses that, as the world evolved in the following centuries, these small objects summarise, in a simple and colourful way, the main structural aspects that define our world today and that will undoubtedly determine its future: the north/south and first/third world relationship. This work reminds us that there was a time when these terms did not exist.

It was followed by another time that equated machinism with progress, that imposed mercantile consumption, legitimising new forms of domination, imposing culturally impoverishing practices; in short, a civilisation based on the accumulation of technological means while it condemned other peoples to underdevelopment. African Patterns alludes to a tremendously complex reflection on the Canary Islands-Africa relationship that can undoubtedly be extrapolated to other territories. We have witnessed a progressive and irreversible distancing from neighbours who are still in the same place but with whom we now share little.

In this line, with the intention of shortening distances – and conscious that the most relevant task of art today is to problematise issues, that is, to question approaches that no longer serve us – CanAfrica 2022 arises, an exhibition of NFT artists from the Canaries and Africa, curated by Chr5 himself and the Senegalese curator Djibril Drame, that refers to questions relating to the relationship between the two cultures.