Through portraits of friends and strangers, Carlos Alarcón illustrates one of the most profound emotions of humankind. Society is worn out by violence, the fast-paced world, materialism and impersonal natures, causing anxiety and anguish in each of its members. Far more grave, however, is that indifference of society itself, the personal silence that stifles any public expression of anxiety. With these works, Alarcón delves deep into this disconnected reality, questioning our habit of hiding behind masks when we face problems, the anxiety this produces and how we sadly, and silently, conform ourselves to this behavior.
Carlos Alarcon’s most recent series, “Par / adoxes,” consists of small and extremely detailed drawings that come in logical and illogical pairings. They grew out of his sketchbook, as subconsciously drawn images that always resulted in some sort of pair. These sketches began as an escape from his other subjects, which were anguish and violence. Sketches that would take one hour to complete turned into ferociously detailed works that could take from 5 to 6 days to finish and required the use of a magnifying glass. For Alarcon, the notion of relationships and pairings is prevalent throughout the series. Although these works are an escape from his other series relating to violence and anguish, he draws upon subjects that produce anguish within himself: his dislike of animals. While he loves animals aesthetically, Alarcon has a dog phobia, yet includes them in these pairings. Thus, one can like and dislike the same subject, resulting yet again, in another odd pairing or relationship. Carlos Alarcon’s play on images questions the odd nature of relationships and the ambiguity that lies within them.
Naturalezas Muertas is a series by Carlos Alarcon which juxtaposes beautifully drawn images of man and object in direct relationship to each other. The literal translation of the title – either still life or dead natures – doesn’t capture the full impact of these minimal compositions, yet the words are individually resonant: dead, nature, still and life. The artist focuses on the things we may encounter in our path each day as we walk in the city, most often passing them by unnoticed, unaware of their stories. For some of us they are simply the detritus of other lives, to be stepped over or around, not even worthy of notice. For others they contain a kind of poetry and beauty, a rich resonance that touches our personal and collective consciousness.
Fast-paced urban life doesn’t often allow us the time to slow down and pay attention to our surroundings as we hurry from work to appointments to home. Yet there are times when we are startled out of our routine, taken away from our inner dialogue. Will the suited man carrying an umbrella stop for the dead bird, kneel beside it and perhaps move it to a safe place, or will he maintain his expression and unbroken stride, avoiding just one more obstacle in his path? The psychological dynamic is simple and compelling, reduced to basic encounters between us and small aspects of our environment. These images both question the nature of such random relationships, and encourage us to stop for a moment to see what is right in front of us. Text by Fran Kaufman
Alarcon has an undergraduate degree in Visual Arts from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, and a Masters in Ephemeral Architecture, Events, and Staging from the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña in Barcelona. He has exhibited his work across Latin America, the United States, France and Spain.