Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display
Roberto Obregón Archive from the Carolina and Fernando Eseverri Collection
Saturday, January 30, 2021 — Sunday, May 16, 2021
Jesús Fuenmayor, University Galleries Program Director and Visiting Curator and Kaira M. Cabañas, Professor of Art History, School of Art and Art History, both from the University of Florida.
Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display features the innovative work of the late Venezuelan artist Roberto Obregón (1946–2003), a key figure in global conceptualism. Conceptual art emerged as a movement in the 1960s and was based on the premise that the idea (or concept) behind the work is more important than the material manifestation of the object. The primary motif in Obregón’s body of work is the concept of cyclical time and the physical, bodily decay of roses.
For thirty years he produced more than a thousand works related to the rose, but he dismantled its kitsch aesthetic and introduced a pseudo-scientific approach to the flower. Inspired by time-lapse photography, Obregón began by carefully observing the rose samples he assembled, capturing a rose’s decay across a sequence of images. He also preserved the roses, dissected each into its component parts, glued the petals to paper, and organized them in meticulously numbered arrangements. For some works, he used real petals and at other times he made watercolor copies or petal cutouts from a range of materials.
The exhibition is drawn from the artist’s extensive archive that is now part of the Carolina and Fernando Eseverri Collection in Caracas, Venezuela. Included are drawings, sketches, collages, photographs and other objects. Throughout the exhibition, custom-made display cabinets offer a rare view into an artist’s vision and how it relates to archival practices. Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display marks the first solo exhibition at an arts institution for Obregón and the first time his archive constitutes the main subject of an exhibition. The exhibition originated at the University Galleries of the University of Florida, Gainesville.
Support for this exhibition has been provided by FIU Foundation, Inc.
Image caption: Roberto Obregón, Niagara III (Bi En and Di Em) [detail], 1994, cut rubber, nails and colored long-staple wool, 79 ⅛ x 262 ⅗ inches, © Archivo Roberto Obregón