Cesar Rey has created a flawless body of sculptural work with discarded materials, household waste, or ready-mades found in workshops. The originality of his work -at a time when the word appears to be senseless– is derived in the first place from the unique relationship he establishes with every creature that emerges from his hands in a way that transforms recycling into a practice. In the solitude of his home or his studio, Rey generates - and lives with- those unexpected, organic three dimensional shapes that are capable of eliciting associations with realms of nature, while at the same time they originate in a very personal mythical kingdom.
All his sculptures function as hanging mobiles. They not only have that quality of motion that a young Alexander Calder felt was still missing from the wonderful compositions of Piet Mondrian when he visited the artist’s workshop in 1930; they also have a strange quality that animates them, that imbues them with a sort of life that is not merely organic, but full of surprises. Some works, in fact, contain within themselves industrial materials that transform their appearance if seen in the dark with a black light bulb. That quality of potential transformation under the influence of light was explored by the Colombian artist in his first solo exhibition in Miami when he created two different light immersive environments that transformed the perception of each "living" sculpture according to the light source.
Calder’s idea that "movements can be composed in the same way as colors and shapes", is well complemented by the potential of associations with living creatures that his organic forms generate, and with the eventual immersive games with luminous atmospheres that complete or surround his pieces. Cesar Rey explores ways in which the irregular or unpredictable movement that Calder used to pursue is infused into his animated three-dimensional creatures. And in the same way as the Impressionists nourished their gaze with the changing perception of the landscape throughout the hours of the day, his floating and animated sculptures are under the influence of varying possibilities of artificial lighting that intensify the projection of their shadows or even change the appearance of their surface.
En Lightness, his first solo show in Miami in 2013, Rey created, as the art historian Raisa Clavijo states, an “immersive environment of a marine cavern (…) with weightless beings, silver-toned sculptures and surfaces through which light is filtered made out of scraps. They are works in which wires, cables and plastics rescued from the trash acquire a sublime aura (…). The pieces appear to transform themselves into live beings that vibrate and move as a result of the magnetic field created due to the proximity of the visitor’s body”.
César Rey’s floating sculptures, made from waste materials which acquire a new aura in his installations, are autonomous forms, endowed with fluidity and lightness. On entering the passages inhabited by the floating creatures in his abstract installations, we are faced with an amazing combination of found materials that function as “apparitions”. They are, in fact, not only common objects, but objects salvaged from the immense current of waste material which may be found in the contemporary world: plastics used to hold containers, wire, fragments of discarded objects which have apparently lost their value, but whose discovery is celebrated by the artist as a magical manifestation, insofar as it completes in a perfect way a piece under construction or reveals the potential form of a new work.
Seanica Howe compared with meditation the experience of walk among his creatures and she wrote: “the artist purposefully designs each with ambiguity, allowing their physical associations to be worked through in the mind of the viewer. However, each inherently embodies extensions of the spirit, where notions of balance, evolution, and transcendence are considered”.
In any case, César Rey’s discovery of key fragments to assemble his sculptures contains a revelation which encompasses the process of construction of the work and which finally finds its course in the itinerary of the spectators moving amidst those monumental sculptures that seem to levitate, and filled with wonder at entering a unique floating world of lightness. We are in the presence of a created world that is fictitious, and at the same time, real in its own poetics.
Adriana Herrera PhD