Luisa Duarte's "Ludic Scapes" by Anna Tahinci
In Luisa Duarte’s Personal Scapes; Recent Prints geometric shapes are in an ongoing conversation with each other, with the artist, and with the viewer. Three trapezoids, custom-cut in engineered wood, served as a point of departure for Luisa Duarte’s dive into the pictorial field. Her architectonic constructions offer us a compelling way to enter and exit space, both literally and metaphorically. Her use of positive and negative space explores loneliness, togetherness, and everything in between.
Luisa Duarte’s artistic voice is recognizable across mediums and techniques, in her monotypes, digital prints, acrylic on canvas paintings, and three-dimensional objects. Being Venezuelan by birth, Latin American by culture, and a Houstonian by choice, Duarte has no unique identity, but rather multiple belongings.
Luisa Duarte’s art is ludic. Ludus in Latin simultaneously refers to play, sport, school, and practice. In his book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga examined play as a necessary condition for generating culture. Playfulness allows Duarte to constantly experiment in the “playground” of her Silver Street studio, endlessly changing the rules of the game, while using a strong thinking process.
In her series For Joshe, created for her nephew Joshe, who, for his 6th birthday requested “A piece of art in Red and Blue!”, hard edged trapezoids stand in front of each other, interconnected by a subtle penetration. By diving into the image and by playing with scale and proportion new images are created. Her Derivado series of digital prints were created through metamorphoses and transformations based on a search of depth and scale. The same microscopic exploration is used in her Suite in Green and Fuchsia, where diving into the image allows to find new images and to play with scale and position.
Luisa Duarte’s stories are encrypted in her intriguing personification of geometry. Rooted in geometric abstraction, Duarte refers to her own trapezoid shapes as human beings reexamining the mysteries of life, love, and loss. This constant investigation of strength and vulnerability creates a set of tensions, a stipulation for construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction, but also ultimately a feeling of balance, order, and freedom.
Anna Tahinci, PhD
Professor and Area Coordinator of Art History
The Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston