Caracas, Venezuela, 1971; lives in Caracas
Juan Araujo’s works highlight a network of relationships and references as elaborated as the nature of his pictorial work. Since the 1990s, the artist has been developing a body of work marked by the reflection on the relationships established by painting and architecture with the systems that reproduce them. By summoning the principle of mimesis, but also that of appropriation and citation, the artist creates images that have other images as themes, coming from illustrations, books, and photographs. The group of paintings about Lina Bo Bardi’s (1914–1992) Glass House, conceived for the 27th Bienal de São Paulo, in 2006, marked the beginning of his interest in Brazilian modern architecture. From then on, Araujo dove deep into the subject leading him to the Mineiriana (2013) cycle, commissioned by Inhotim, in which he worked with references from Minas Gerais State, from Pampulha and Inhotim to local baroque and its representation throughout the 20th century.
In Vasarely-Milan II, the interior of a domestic environment appears reflected on the glass covering a framed silkscreen by Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely (1908– 1997), hanging on that environment. The house we see on the painting is the Milan Residency (1972), by Marcos Acayaba, a disciple of Vilanova Artigas (1915–1985), one of the main names in the São Paulo modern architecture movement. The most relevant characteristics of the house – the shell-like structure invoking an organic shape and the connection between internal spaces that bring nature “inside” architecture – are juxtaposed to Vasarely’s composition. Araujo’s virtuous representation is far from being naturalistic, however, it still suggests a counterpoint to the abstract work. Vasarely-Milan II evokes the transparency, unfolding it into different layers of representation and notions of abstraction/figuration and reality/fiction that are always present in the artist’s work.