Art Madrid'24 – Juvenal Ravelo. A timeless artist

It's happened again! Latin American art will shine in the next edition of Art Madrid with the presence of more than twenty artists represented by national and international galleries as part of the General Galleries Program of Art Madrid'24.

For our next edition, we will have the presence of Juvenal Ravelo, (Monagas, Caripito, Venezuela, 1934) and we want to share with you how fortunate we feel to have one of the greatest exponents of kinetic art in Latin America.

The artist Juvenal Ravelo, winner of the National Culture Prize in the Plastic Arts category (Venezuela 2008), has been invited to exhibit in the Venezuelan pavilion at the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale, to be celebrated from April 20 to November 24, 2024, under the premise: Foreigners Everywhere, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director of the MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand).

Juvenal Ravelo. Fragmentación de la luz y el color. Acrílicos ensamblados, aluminio y cristales reflectantes, 50 x 50 cm, 2023.

Juvenal Ravelo is one of the most prestigious Latin American artists of his time, a master of kinetic art, a pioneer in thinking about the social impact of art in the community, and one of the references of participatory art in the region. And he will be with us at Art Madrid'24, represented by Kleur Gallery. Based in Santiago de Chile and directed by Mauricio Ceballos since its creation in 2014, Kleur Gallery specializes in bringing together artists of different generations who work in the field of abstraction.The gallery's proposal at Art Madrid stands out for the unquestionable beauty and the infinity of physical-spatial possibilities that the new trends take from the genesis of kinetic art, promoting a dialogue between tradition and renovation, under the spectrum of those transformable realities bequeathed by the kinetic movement that emerged in Paris in the mid-twentieth century.

From Europe to Latin America, the current of abstraction has left us masters such as Carlos Cruz Diez, Gego, Carmen Herrera, Jesús Rafael Soto or Julio Le Parc. But the influence of the kinetic movement was more than unidirectional, as Latin American artists moved to other contexts and realities, immersing themselves in the principles of an art form that was permeated with changes in the _perception of real time. _This was the case with Juvenal Ravelo, who decided to go to France in 1964 to study the principles of Kineticism and Constructivism and to delve into the facets of the sociology of art.

Juvenal Ravelo. Fragmentación de la luz y el color. Acrílicos ensamblados, aluminio y cristales reflectantes, 50 x 50 x 3 cm, 2023.

Juvenal Ravelo has lived in Paris for more than thirty years, during which time he has periodically visited his native Venezuela. He has carried out participatory initiatives to bring creation to the streets and to educate citizens, a kind of sensitivity that would make him an active spectator. The integration of the community into the artistic fact, the development of projects aimed at involving the viewer as a participant in the creation of works subject to movement and the perception of visual rhythms, are intertwined to accommodate the symbolic value of a proposal dedicated to social issues. In this way, his initiatives aimed at creating works in the public space have given form to an operation that has made the _Art of participation in the street _one of the most recognizable signs of his artistic trajectory.

Another of his most relevant projects is the "Open Air Museum", which he initiated in his community of Caripito and with which he opened the doors to his well-known Módulos Cromáticos. Once again, the artist echoed the social will of art to involve his fellow citizens in the creation of a project for the community. Participation and play are irrevocably implicit in Juvenal Ravelo's kinetic work.

Juvenal Ravelo. Imagen cortesía Galería Kleur.

The colors, lines and shapes, which as a whole create a reality full of visual rhythms, are presented to the spectator as a capricious game. In most cases, it is up to the spectator, as an agent of change, to activate the process of creation and reception of the work. The works and questions raised by Juvenal Ravelo propose a change in the relationship between people and artistic objects, leaving the orphan the possibility of completing a work without the presence of its interlocutor, promoting a way of creating characterized by portability and playful and participatory components.

Juvenal Ravelo. Fragmentación de la luz y el color. Acrílicos ensamblados, aluminio y cristales reflectantes, 100 x 100 x 3 cm, 2023.

The research, the phenomena of visualization of the artistic object, the processes of fragmentation of light in his works, and his concern to teach the public the vital importance of their presence in activating the work of art, make Juvenal Ravelo one of the pioneers of Venezuelan kinetic art and a timeless artist, capable of identifying and redeeming in his art the problems of each time.

Suncityboy. Courtesy of the artist.


It is always difficult to create one's own universe, this complication increases when this universe is populated by characters known and recognized by all, who are part of the imagination of many, inventing on what already exists is doubly difficult. Suncityboy (Tver, Russia, 1984) has invented a world inhabited by fairy tale characters and cultural icons who share a common denominator: they are formed by small balls that assemble an impossible body with an emoji face and, despite the initial strangeness, immediately evoke empathy and familiarity.

Color overflows all its scenes and we meet Alice in Wonderland (or more precisely in Suncityboy's country), Dorothy in OZ, the seven dwarfs a bit changed or even a very particular interpretation of Vermeer's "Milkmaid". But they all stop being them to enter a new life where humor, irony, acidity and a huge dose of energy renew our view on things, theoretically very seen. From Marilyn to the birth of Venus, everything is susceptible to be "rounded" and to provoke a smile in us. If we have to choose between the angry emoji or the smiley emoji, his works will make us send the smiley emoji, and that is to be appreciated.

Aliceâs Adventures in Wonderland.Tinta y témpera sobre papel.2023.

How would you define your art in one word? Or better in an emoji.

It’s joy.

What is your favorite emoji?

This smiley (the artist points towards a painting behind himself).

What are the requirements for the characters of stories or famous works that you endow with a new life? What should they suggest to you or how do they reach you?

My characters are funny, many of them want to get into my pictures. From the world of Plato's ideas, heroes go to different outdoors, but almost all of them want to get to me. They take a turn and they are waiting for me to capture them. Not all of them, of course, because I'm a very busy person. I create new meanings for the characters: they stop living in everyday life. I think they are much more interested in the spherical world than in their non-spherical world. I can say, sure, I don't force anyone. If the hero doesn't like it, I don't keep him. I respect their rights.

Svinedrengen. Gouache on paper. 2023.

Why the spherical, the round?

The sphere is a symbol of the universe. We all encounter spheres and circles in everyday life. Circles and spheres are the main form of my paintings. These are the stars in the sky, the atoms from which everything is made, and even money, the coins with which we pay took their form in the process of evolution, because everything tends towards the sphere. My task is to speak the language of spherism, to promote this knowledge to the people.

It was not for nothing that Hokusai wrote in his lost letter to Hiroshige on the road from Rome to Edo to Kyoto, "Suncityboy, if the future embodiment of world spherism, the personification of modernism through imaginism.”

The letter was stolen from his workshop because it had value for world culture.

Do we take everything too seriously?

The seriousness of our world is evidenced by the constant dispute of objects and forms in composition. We must understand that everything is much more serious than we think. There is a constant confrontation between forms. Circles have always competed with triangles for the main rights in composition. We see this in the images of ancient Egypt. Then they were joined by squares. A square character often creeps into my paintings. He tries to dispute the spherical harmony. But, to his great regret, he makes the composition more successful. You just have to look for it.

Amazons. Gouache on paper. 2023.

Drama or comedy?

The subjects of the paintings of spherical imaginism show the relationship of particles, shapes, and ideas. Characters can be both the meaning and the category of cognition. This is similar to the metamorphosis of temporary spatial transformations, when a character becomes an object and nature becomes a thing. This is the drama of the works. But at the same time, it's also comical because of this metaphor.

Roof Girls. Gouache on paper. 2023.

What role does music play in your creative process, I understand it is important.

Music is a circle of vinyl. It penetrates into all beings like neutrinos. Without music, it's difficult to achieve a good result. If you don't have a music player, you need to add something of yourself with your inner feeling.

You can imagine yourself with a large cello or saxophone. Music is the building material of creativity. In my case, these are bright-colored construction balls. Sometimes they turn into caramels.

Where is your art going (You can answer with an emoji if you wish) 😉

My art is moving into the future. It looks like a large spherical airplane. On board are my favorite heroes. I will appear as captain sometime during the flight. I walk between the isles and serve them drinks and treats. I think you can see this for yourself.

Thank you very much, Carlos. 😉