There is no doubt that Lorena Morales found her stylistic inspiration on the Venezuelan generation of optical and kinetic masters, led by Carlos Cruz Diez, Jesus Soto and Alejandro Otero. She certainly studied the works of Latin American artists Joaquín Torres-García and Julio Le Parc, as well as European masterpieces by Mondrian, Vasarely, Calder, Gorky, Reinhardt, Riley, Agam and Tinguely. Her admiration and understanding of their artistic work has inspired her to create a unique geometric abstraction that is not only coolly designed, but also playful and dynamic.
Through the means of acrylic painting on Plexiglas panels, Lorena Morales defines areas of color with geometric shapes and patterns, and then experiments on the shadows they cast through the clear panels. Deliberately, she takes advantage of the transparency and versatility of the material, the strength of the geometric shapes and the vibrancy of colors to produce an abstraction conceived in three dimension. As spectators move past them, and light of day changes, so does the visual sensation of sparkling colors on the panel and the color refections of shadows on the wall. That changing effect, that passing moment perceived by viewers, is what fascinates Lorena Morales the most.
She aims to depict the non-representational, leaning on geometric forms and color, and yet, by reducing her reality, past and present to its purest, most basic structure, she still represents her most inner thoughts and emotions.
Indeed, there is a personal account in her creative process, her narrative about her Venezuelan homeland, a place troubled by sociopolitical turmoil and dramatic restrictions of freedom since more than a decade ago. It is almost as she is intentionally expressing her search for order and harmony through visual expression. Purposely, she incorporates allusions to her homeland into her work, while playing freely with movement, color and light. Because there is something subtly nostalgic in Lorena Morales’ works that engages the viewer. They visually evoke the overpowering light and heat of her hometown Maracaibo, its exuberant vegetation and colorful birds, the festive rhythms of the Caribbean music, the remembrance of her picturesque neighborhood street, the lively laughs of her family and friends.
Her work is not as purely abstract lines, or a vibrant array of colors and shapes,
or even strict optical compositions. They express the affirmation of her identity, the story about her migration, her journey of creativity, change and future possibilities.
Her work also comprises geometric shapes into three dimensions as sculptures and installations. She has explored different materials always looking for transparency, and the effect of light and movement upon them. She is continuously researching on the spatial relationships between various compositional parts, which can be disassembled and rearranged. Some of her sculptures are suspended from the ceiling, giving an amusing optical illusion of that change according to light and the viewers’s position.
Her inclination for using industrial materials such as Plexiglas, aluminum, and spray painting, gives her work a distinctive urban and contemporary appearance. No wonder one of her striking works was selected in 2016 to be part of the permanent collection of the George R. Brown Convention Center for all Houstonians and tourists to appreciate. In her most recent investigation, Chromolights, spray enamel paint on acrylic rods over aluminum plaques, she further explores her vision of austere essentials: the interaction of pure bright colors and light in the room, and its shadow refections on the walls.
By Veronica Valarino, Curator
Former Cultural Attaché for the Venezuelan Foreign Service &
Museum Specialist focused on Latin American Contemporary Art
April 24, 2017