Carlos Enrique Prado
May 13th, 2022
Sculptures by Carlos Enrique Prado
Tautologies refers to my most recent artistic production, a collection of ceramic sculptures mainly composed of the Recycling Piles series. I titled this collection Tautologies because I can draw a parallel between the meaning of the term and the way in which the content of my pieces unfolds. In general, the works can be described as assemblages of repeated copies of notorious sculptures, transformed into modular sections, patterns, and motifs, as part of new compositions in the shape of columns, stacks, and piles. These repetitive arrangements, just as tautologies work in our language, can somehow be read as “statements that are in-themselves redundant” or as “circular arguments, that is, one that begins by assuming the very thing that is meant to be proven by the argument itself”.
The presence of the human figure has always been, in one way or another, at the center of my artistic research. This topic has been channeled through the quoting of some emblematic ancient figurative sculptures, but also through the recycling of ways in which the human figure has been represented in some periods of art history, with special attention to the Greco-Roman heritage. In the recent sculptures, the process of quoting has been foregrounded, becoming an essential part of the content. To some extent, I challenge the Western aesthetic paradigm by reusing historical symbols of power stripped of original meaning. Thus, iconic images created to stand on a pedestal now somehow become a pedestal themselves in my works.
Unlike my previous series, an extensive collection of ceramic torsos, these new works have been made using 3D modeling software and especially the 3D clay printer: a technology that is still considered new in ceramics. Consequently, my craft as a sculptor has changed significantly, from modeling directly in clay with traditional ceramic techniques to using virtual clay and CGI software. Now instead of keeping my creative process focused on clay, I use 3D modeling programs to design my sculptures, spending most of my time in front of the computer. Moreover, modeling on the computer provides broader artistic possibilities, including the opportunity to incorporate and manipulate digital models made from originals ancient artworks, the ability to design more complex compositions and assemblages, and the capacity to preserve the integrity of the quoted references.
Therefore, I believe this technological process allows me to achieve a significant change in my role as an artist in relation to the production of the artwork. Now, more than a manual manufacturer, I can define myself as an assembler of recycled elements from art history. More broadly, I consider that art speaks through the repository of previously created images, just as ideas formulated in our language are articulated through references to previously formulated ones. Thus, the artist, as the author, is only a translator or channel in the development of the artistic production.
Clay printing is a young technology, so it still has some important limitations. One of the most significant restrictions is related to the mechanical properties of the clay. To be extruded through a narrow nozzle, the clay used for printing must be extra-moist and soft, which increases the fragility of the printed structures and substantially limits the ability to hold large and complex shapes upright. In order to successfully print my pieces, I had to personally design the 3D models keeping in mind the limitations of the printing process, sometimes adding elements or changing the desired shapes, and lastly relying on the final touch-up by hand to finish the work. This process makes each work a unique piece, regardless of the ability offered by the clay printer to make several copies of the same model.
In general, the works in this suite can be contemplated and enjoyed as visual divertimenti, as ingenious games of recycling shared iconographic paradigms. However, on the contrary, they can also be understood, as the title Tautologies clearly indicates, as “meaningless statements” that are "saying the same thing twice."
Carlos Enrique Prado is a visual artist and professor of art. He is originally from Havana, Cuba, where he received education and developed a career as an artist and art educator. Since 2003, Carlos was a professor of sculpture and ceramics at ISA, University of Art of Cuba until he moved to the United States in 2011. He currently lives and works in South Florida, and teaches ceramics at the University of Miami, where he holds the position of Senior Lecturer.
Carlos's artworks are predominantly sculptures and ceramics, but he has also delved into drawing and digital art. His works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at major art institutions, museums, and galleries in Cuba and the USA, as well as in other countries in the Americas and Europe. They are also part of important private and public collections. He has also presented his work as a visiting artist and guest speaker at various universities and art schools, including NCECA, the University of Southern California, Midwestern State University, Arizona State University, University of Mary Washington, and the University of Alabama.
This exhibition was made possible with the support of the University of Miami and the University of Miami's Ceramic and Fine Arts Department