Urban Awareness: Victor Guédez
After carrying out her work in a passive, bucolic realm amidst the appeasement derived from stability, Sydia Reyes experienced some major existential changes which have conditioned her new proposal. The confrontation of such stimuli along with the direct contact with an overwhelmingly urban reality have left an imprint on her temperament and penetrated the fervent fibers of her aesthetic vision.
The artist’s aroused intuition turned the concurrence of these factors into inputs for the redefinition of her discourse. All these clashes led her to focus her expectations on certain urban referents which usually go unnoticed: the sewers. These elements, in the form of culverts, drainages, sinkholes or sumps, had always been circumscribed to their objective scopes. Their structural shapes, physical resolutions and, of course, aesthetic potentialities, had been naturally disparaged by common sense. It has been only now—after a lifetime—that the dimension and the energy which lied concealed in them has been revealed. Indeed, Sydia Reyes has rescued the significance of something so widely disregarded, thus proving that art, rather than the invention of unprecedented things, is more about the discovery of the plastic transcendence of the seemingly trivial, or, also, the revelation of the unexpected alternatives of the seemingly anodyne.
On the works exhibited in A Reality Apart, art critic and investigator Roberto Guevara wrote in his column “Ciudad” in El Nacional that Sydia Reyes is “one of the Venezuelan artists most deeply committed with the determinism of the urban milieu on artistic creation. Her first individual sample appears like the work of an artist with a long and conscientious trajectory, revealing a rare “underground” feeling toward the urban matter, extracted with the spirit of Marcel Duchamp from a real to a fantastic ubiety, leaving the utilized support essentially undisturbed (…) An excellent work signaling the start of a promissory career with great possibilities. Sydia Reyes’ consistent work has presented us one of the best proposals in a long time.” Certainly Roberto Guevara, one of Venezuela’s most lucid art critics and analysts, made no mistake in his appraisal.
The House Imagery in Five Contemporary Artists
In 2011, Reyes’ work is analyzed by art historian Judith Uzcátegui Araujo in her book “The House Imagery in Five Contemporary Artists: Remedios Varo, Louise Bourgeois, Marjetica Potre, Doris Salcedo and Sydia Reyes,” from the Ensayo collection of Editorial Entelequia, Madrid. On the social subject treated by Reyes, Uzcátegui states that “this problematic is shown in an exemplary way in the exhibition “Refugios,” carried out in the Sofía Imber Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas in 1995 (…) In these large installations the Venezuelan artist displays urban elements such as sewers, pipes, ventilation ducts and traffic cones conjugated with audiovisual resources meant to place other beings on the stage. The urban referent is related to the dwellings and habitat of homeless children (…) The installation called “On the other side of the mirror” (1995) has been carried out with a sewage pipe. Metaphorically, the pipe becomes the prolongation of a larger body: the city. On one end there is a television screen projecting a video on the life of these children in the major Latin American cities: Caracas, Bogotá and Sao Paulo. In order to be able to contemplate it, the spectator is forced to look at the outlet. Thus, the drainage, where the waste is poured, becomes a corporal metaphor of the city; but it is also the dwelling where the homeless seek shelter from the outside danger, so ultimately it turns into a sort of mirror-tunnel imposing a reality which, though it is always facing us, we never get to see.” (p. 241).
“Implicit plasticity” Exhibition
In 2004, the Betty Rymer Gallery invites Reyes to participate in “Implicit plasticity” along with seven other sculptors. She displays an installation from the “Prosthesis” series, considered by curator Dubhe Carreño as “a metaphor of the human tendency to harm and consequently to try to save the environment.” Liz Hoelscher also wrote on this installation: “Upon entering the gallery, the visitor immediately notices the simplicity of the artistic works. The scarcely decorated salons are filled with acute geometric forms embellished with some sort of mechanical presentation style. The piece which attracts most attention, “Prosthesis,” by Sydia Reyes, has a minimum portion of clay. Two large silvery cylinders protrude from the roof with overflowing branches on the floor while a video showing different environmental disasters is projected on the wall directly behind the cylinders. Reyes expresses her political opinions saying that ‘the animals, the vegetable species and virgin areas are being thoroughly obliterated under the false idea of progress.’ Her voice conveys quite literally her concern over current ecological problems.”
Art critic Bélgica Rodríguez
A broad vision of the world and of art pervades Sydia Reyes’ creative spirit. An artist by intuition, by sensibility and talent, she explores the synchronicity of life and art focused on disturbing aspects of contemporary society. She is interested in seeking harmonies in her aesthetic proposals inclined toward the reflection on the creative deed as an isomorphic relation between what she wishes to say and its representation as a recognizable visual structure. She is in search for the links and mediations between two powerful forces: the social theme and the material. Though she seizes urban models as examples, she abandons the mechanistic paraphrasing or appropriation of an image in order to depart from the most intrinsic meaning of the object which serves as the essential core of her work. The rational objectivity with which she regards the object, and the emotional charge tangibly expressed in her large-scale or massive sculptures, manifest the vital pace of “something” throbbing in the entrails of what cannot be seen, but corresponds to the breathing cleavages of the ordure that feeds all those beings rejected by society, particularly abandoned children. Sydia evidently entraps that substance and turns it either into the immanent vibration of a structure realized through such materials as iron, or the vitality of disturbing forms verifying the connection between signifier and signified.