SURFACE TREATMENT: “Master Prints” & “Años de Miedo”

“Master Prints” & “Años de Miedo”
May 22, 2010 12:04 AM
Nancy Moyer
The Monitor

Upon entering the gallery, the exhibit appears to be German Expressionist-inspired relief prints. Suddenly, a second room of prints offers a broader aesthetic base; it chronicles the artist’s witty romp through past Masters of art. Carlos Barberena exhibits two series, or portfolios, “Master Prints” & “Años de Miedo,” at the Art House. The works are all linocuts; both series are relevant.

“Años de Miedo” (Time of Fear) is the result of a ten-year project; it is a tribute to victims of war. The works are based on Barberena’s own memories and the collective historical memory of his country, Nicaragua. The violent decades of the 70’s and 80’s in Nicaragua ravaged that nation, environmentally and politically. By addressing warfare and its aftermath, he believes that his work is touching on a reality that presently exists in many countries.

“Llanto” Linocut by Carlos Barberena

The artist reflects on the effects left by war and how those experiences affect our lives, physically and psychologically. One group of prints explores facial expressions provoked by fear. Each print shows only the abstracted face of an anguished individual. Llanto portrays the face with tears, while Herido de Muerto captures a face during the final signs of life. With only one exception, these prints are white line cuts against a flat black ground, visually emphasizing the psychologically disturbing message of tragedy.
By injecting the darker issues of modern life into past artistic modes in the “Master Prints,” Barberena riffs off the old Masters. How would they have presented that painting/print today? Believing that they would share his concern for human injustices, environmental issues, and a world in need of common sense, he has reinvented a few artworks by well-known artists. Converting the original images into linocuts with impressive virtuosity, Barberena has added believable political or environmental issues.

“La McMona” Print by Carlos Barberena

In La McMona, Leonardo might have painted the Mona Lisa as a Calavera, or is death the answer to a diet of unhealthy fast food? Venus 2.0 (Botticelli’s Aphrodite) sports a respirator as pipes spewing industrial waste surround her shell. And what really might be causing Edvard Munch’s enigmatic figure to scream? Barberena’s The Scream suggests potential radiation from the mushroom cloud in the distance.

“Venus 2.0” Print by Carlos Barberena

Barberena collects images that relate to our collective memory; he references painful events that occurred in the history of Nicaragua as well as globally. “I hope never to become inactive nor esthetically dead during the period in which we are living,” he states. “I hope to react without fear in order to say what needs to be said in the moment it needs to be said.”

For this artist, art is a powerful form of communication for reflecting upon and questioning the issues of our contemporary society – the fears, the desires, the hopelessness, and sometimes even the nonsense.

Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art from UTPA, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached at


About carlosbarberena

Carlos Barberena is a Nicaraguan self-taught Printmaker based in Chicago where he runs his printmaking project La Calaca Press. Barberena has exhibited individually in Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain and The USA. His work has been shown in important Art Fairs, Art Biennials, Museums, Galleries, Universities and Cultural Centers around the world, among them: the 7 International Printmaking Biennial of Douro at the Lamego Museum in Portugal; Printmaking In / In Graafika Fest at Linnagallerii, Parnu, Estonia; the IX Nicaraguan Visual Arts Biennial (IX BAVNIC) - Ortiz-Gurdián Foundation. “Recycling Memory: Recapturing the Lost City” curated by Omar López-Chahoud. PAC Museum, Managua, Nicaragua; Tartu Printmaking Fest 2014, Tartu Art House, Tartu, Estonia; LAPS 21, National Printmaking Biennial, CSUN Art Galleries, Northridge, CA; Pulso: Arte de las Américas, KCAD Fed Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI; “Santitos” curated by René Arceo, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago; Hanal Pixan - Food for the Souls, curated by Dolores Mercado, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; III Bronx Latin American Art Biennial, Bronx, New York; “Les Saltimbanques” an homage to Gustave Doré at the Musée d’Art Roger-Quilliot - MARQ - in France, where his work was exhibited alongside Doré’s Masterpiece; III World Body Art Conference in Venezuela, Lia Bermudez Museum; V Biennial of Caribbean Dominican Republic, Museum of the Dominican Man; 8th Triennial - Mondial de L’Estampe et de la Gravure Originale in Chamalieres, France; 6th KIWA at the Kyoto Museum of Art in Japan; Takanabe Art Museum, Miyazaki, Japan; Latin American & Nicaraguan Printmaking, former Convent of San Francisco Museum, Granada, Nicaragua; 24 Grafiekbiennale Sint-Niklaas, International Exlibriscentrum, Stedelijke Musea, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium and the XIII Art Salon, Identity Imprint: A Glance at Ibero-American Printmaking at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC. He has received various awards, most notably the “National Printmaking Award 2012” given by the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture in Managua, Nicaragua and the award- poster for the Ecology and Human Rights in Banana Plantations in Costa Rica, given by GEBANA in Berlin, Germany. Barberena’s work is included in numerous public and private collections, including Ortíz-Gurdián Museum, León, Nicaragua; Douro Printmaking Biennial Collection, Museu do Gravura, Alijo, Portugal; Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago, USA; Artist Printmaker Research Collection, Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Special Collection, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, USA; The National Gallery, San José, Costa Rica; Museum of Contemporary Art “Julio Cortazar”, Managua, Nicaragua; Permanent Art Collection of the Bibliotheca of Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt; Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois; KIWA, Kyoto, Japan; the School of Fine Arts, (UNAM), Mexico; the Triennial Prints Cabinet, AMAC, France, the International Exlibriscentrum, Stedelijke Museum in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium; the Lia Bermudez Museum, Venezuela; Former Jesuit College Cultural Center, Patzcuaro, Mexico and Praxis Gallery of Nicaragua.
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One Response to SURFACE TREATMENT: “Master Prints” & “Años de Miedo”

  1. Pingback:“master-prints”-“anos-de-miedo”/ « Graphic and Web

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