Occasionally, the not so pleasant world we live in does not seem to correspond to the idea of lo real maravilloso “reality as wonder” envisaged by Alejo Carpentier as related to our America. Nonetheless, an imaginative artist like Wladimiro Politano can attempt, at least in his work, to transform reality into wonderment. The critic Roberto Guevara stated accurately that, as well as Latin America, Politano’s art can only be understood as a stage of fables.
Wladimiro Politano is essentially Latin due to his Italian origin, and Latin American because of his life and work in Venezuela and the realismo mágico (magical realism) present in his painting –a type of expression considered as paradigmatic and definitive of Latin American fabulist imagination. One cannot disregard what lingers of New York in the artist, since he lived for ten years in this city, where his work was exhibited many times. Therefore, Politano’s art is literally a globalized art, although it is envisioned from Venezuela.
In the present phase of his production, distant already from Geometric Abstractionism (except in some of his steel sculptures), Politano has matured a new artistic language, proper, very personal, enriched by a coherent formal vocabulary and a thematic repertoire that centers on the human figure. It is a non-realistic figure, not intended to describe its visual appearance or to serve in analytic speculation, but to allude, lyrically, to a general human condition in the midst of unreal and metaphoric scenes.
His work has undergone radical changes. However, these changes are neither a rupture nor a breach, nor are they a qualitative leap. Between his work’s previous Abstractionism and the present Figurativism, which besides had been evolving throughout the years in his drawings, there is an essential and continuous trend that reveals a single authorship –specially regarding their formal and technical nature.
Wladimiro Politano's self-imposed rigorous discipline –regarding the conception of his work, his notorious determination for formal synthesis, the way he arranges his compositions, and the conscientious execution of his works –is a typical feature of the classical and rational artist. Nonetheless, his art comes closer to Surrealism, since the irrational and the intuitive prevail in his conception, although, in his case, intuition reaches a high degree of rigor and systematization.
Politano has approached, in an unusual manner, the relationships and multiple links established between his peculiar characters and their no less fantastic environment. These relationships of integration are, at times, hardly mimetic and, more often, they function as dialectical oppositions, with different degrees of antagonism and tension. They may become ambivalent, ambiguous or equivocal. In any case, the visual metaphor should be direct and transparent, for the very fact of being in the world implies the same set of varied relationships between oneself and reality. Yet the artist’s metaphors become enigmatic.
The metaphors of the living space are, sometimes, like imaginary sets of inner mirrors; not mirages, or fata Morgana, but speculations, reflections; affective reflections on an empty time. That is to say, they are another non-rational way of being reflective, of speculating –which is what mirrors usually to do.
In this regard, each one of Politano’s paintings becomes a subtle weave, a subtle game of metaphoric associations assembled over the edge of lines, as if on a knife-edge. So when our eyes scan the lines of the drawing, it is as if we were walking a tight rope, not knowing where the fall ends in the emptiness of the work’s background.
These paintings move about in an atmosphere of deferred effusiveness, of watchfulness, of doubt, of silence, of coldness. Yet, inside, there is a burning fire, a fire perceived in the images, affording them a secret and intense underlying life.
The works of Wladimiro Politano belong essentially to the art of drawing. They originate in drawing. They are conceived by letting the imagination flow with the almost spontaneous course of the line. Some shapes close their outline and are covered with black or color. However, in the resulting work, the drawing always prevails. Sometimes the color does not add much to the drawing, and in some cases it could have almost been dispensed with. In rare occasions color predominates and is crucial. But drawing can never be dispensed with.
In Politano’s drawings, the line acquires and evidences its character as the mind's original voice, from which it emerges smoothly, like words in speaking.
His drawing is not descriptive nor realist; neither is it abstract; it is figurative, but neither does it depend on the direct observation of things and beings nor is it subject to the traditional codes and rules of plastic representation. It is a type of figuration in which the recognition of the scene represented is sometimes not immediate, for the shapes are distorted and modified by the drawing, which takes the liberty of preserving the autonomy of the strokes and the independence of its creative fantasy. The latter –like in the surrealists –finds its inspiration in the artist’s inner world, including his unconscious.
Politano’s drawings have the power to emerge directly from the artist's inner world, by way of an uninhibited and flowing imagination, without rhetorical or speculative mediations. Thus the outcome is flowing, vibrant and eloquent drawings, likewise, clean and precise. At times, a drawing might take impulse and move about briskly and with confidence; at other times, it is carefree, as in play. On occasion, however, it is constructive, rigorous and geometric. It is never on its own, for the artist never lets it escape; he maintains control, to the smallest detail, of everything that happens in his work.
In this varying and changing treatment, in which a kind of dialogue between the artist and the elements of his work takes place, there is neither wild abandon nor excess. Notwithstanding, things are not predictable or sure. Internal drives and spontaneity tend to break out, and entropy threatens to reduce everything to chaos. However, for Politano all this is manageable, and in fact, his creations usually work out with the rigorous and eloquent precision of dreams.
The capacity for synthesis that Politano asserts in his pieces is one of the most noticeable and persistent characteristics of his work. His determination for simplification and abridgment begins by removing all the plastic elements that he can dispense with. So he does away with colors and volumes, with chiaroscuro, textures, strokes and brushstrokes, with perspective, distance and depth, transparencies and so on. Neither does he resort to the variations in techniques, in materials, supports nor treatments. In short, he discards almost all the usual expressive resources of painting, and barely holds on to lines, shapes and space.
Wladimiro Politano thus applies the most extreme economy of media, that is, he uses the least amount of resources and efforts to obtain the maximum effects. And this is one of the most significant principles in the historic tradition of artistic work, one of its major virtues. Through this means, Politano approaches a kind of non-formalist, figurative Minimalism, by virtue of the bare, synthetic and scanty character of a work reduced to its most essential and minimal expression.
If Giacometti restricts the material and physical presence of the human figure to the minimum, Politano also reduces its characters and scenes to a minimum of plastic components. And, in addition to the reduction of visual appearances, there is also a reduction of the discursive content of the work, which becomes limited to a symbolic minimum, devoid of contextual and descriptive propinquity.
Assemblage as a resource –in this case, an imaginary, non-real assemblage– leads us with its metaphoric character to alchemy, as the art of transforming combinations, capable of achieving alteraties, from perceptual, symbolic and signifying alterations, to a change of vision and a creation of meaning.
As the artist combines different realities, he resorts to the old and unlimited power of the metaphor, which, in his case, becomes embodied in the plastic materiality of the assemblage. This is the famous principle proclaimed by Lautréamont, and appropriated by the surrealists: “…beautiful as the fortuitous encounter between an umbrella and a sawing machine on a dissection table.” It is from this starting point that the avant-garde movements that revolutionized the Twentieth Century art unfolded. And in this is founded whatever surrealistic component is present in Wladimiro Politano’s work.
The machine pieces or mechanic elements that Politano incorporates into his figures as orthopedic pieces or robots, have a threefold way of articulating in his work: either as plastic forms, as machines, or assuming symbolic functions. In any case, they generate a metamorphosis that is the key to the fantastic element in Politano’s work, and each carries out a critical function against the reification of human beings, dehumanized as an object.
As for Politano's sculptures, it may be said that they develop in two main formal and volumetric conceptions, appropriate to the materials employed: bronze, wood and stainless steel. His sculptural works also vary according to their functions: those destined to urban space, those integrated to architecture –on a domestic or public scale– and those for other frequent destinations of sculpture.
Politano’s large stainless steel works exhibit a single and intense color that enhances a forceful geometric abstract shape of an extreme minimalist synthesis and a basic structure, ending sometimes in sharp, aggressive edges. In these works, volume, shape, color, space and meaning join wholly in a single, imposing expression.
His bronze and wood pieces –more complex from a volumetric, formal and spatial viewpoint– are, as well, synthetic and geometric pieces, yet they are not abstract works. They display a continuous modeling and a pristine finishing. These pieces tend to the greatest simplicity and are reduced to the essential, lacking ornaments or details, thus gaining cohesion and strength.
Wladimiro Politano’s sculptures are more formal and less metaphoric and surrealist than his paintings. All elements that integrate both paintings and sculptures have a certain quality in common, a certain harmony, a relationship of solidarity on which is based the cohesion of the works, despite the inclusion of some contrasting details, that, in any case, do not clash with the whole.
The artistic communication of Politano’s paintings is inter-subjective and is not conditioned by pre-established codes; neither is it referred to any imaginary comparisons with nature.
Space is the major element of interpretative openness in Politano’ s painting. Lines and shapes neither create nor define it, but rather, make it imprecise. It is not an Euclidean space, but a topological and subjective one.
Space in Wladimiro Politano is versatile, unreal, multiple and ambiguous; It is elastic, mutable, uncertain, lacking perspective and logic. It is an ubi consistam that may embrace a variable portion of space and time. And it is also a territory of strengths and tensions that constitute the main visual attraction of these works.