Protocol Pressure is the first of two exhibitions and part of an ongoing research project that explores the works, research, and archival materials of the late Chilean-American artist Enrique Castro-Cid (b. Santiago, 1937; d. Santiago, 1992).
This first exhibition focuses on work produced in Miami from the late 1970s through the 80s, during which he experimented with computer aided design software as an integral part of making paintings. His works from this period take classically proportioned human or animal figures, oftentimes directly referencing historical painters such as Paul Cezanne or Eugene Delacroix, as their starting point. Then, through a process that employs differential geometry, computational conformal mapping, and multilinear perspective, Castro-Cid transforms a two-dimensional space into a composition of multi-dimensional planes and morphing corporeal forms. The results are canvases and prints where the figures are suspended in a process of transformation, pulled and sucked into becoming mathematical singularities. At this point, the figures and the compositions start to misbehave: limbs are contorted, poses exaggerated, and figures are gutted altogether. As if they were buckling to some greater mathematical force unperceived to the human eye, the canvases start to show the effects of the calculations lurking beneath the surface, with centers that bloat, and corners that subtly go askew.
To Castro-Cid, the move away from the rectangular surface was as much experimentation as a correction in the history of painting that accounted for advances in the field of math and science after Einstein, and that prioritized the topological experience of the world (with magnitudes and intensities) over the Euclidean perspective. His was not a visual analogy of the science of the times, but an attempt at applying to create what Ricardo Pau-Llosa referred to as “four dimensional episodes of visual thinking.” To the contemporary eye which has been trained to see in a world that can image complex phenomena such as black holes, the paintings seem almost rudimentary in their technological aptitude. The work’s breakthrough, however, is not in its loyal depictions of what we see, but in being evidence to a speculative drive that haunted Castro-Cid throughout his career to reveal, test, and push on the pictorial boundaries of painted space and the real by way of rational math and a canvas.
A central component of this exhibition includes an archive of Castro Cid’s documents and ephemera for the public to engage with that has been placed in the care of [NAME] Publications as part of their Migrant Archives project. This archival material includes notebooks, correspondence, terminal printouts, photographs, press, as well as never before seen sketches of Castro-Cid’s works. This material tells the many adventurous plot lines that cross-cut Castro-Cid’s practice during his latter years in Miami where he attracted and gravitated toward an orbit of characters and supporters, many of whom are an integral part of the Miami art community that has been in the making ever since. This latter part of Castro-Cid’s life and work reads like a sequel to the nearly-fantastical years in New York City, where after arriving there from Chile in 1961 makes his way into a scene of influential figures in art’s high society, including Andy Warhol, Richard Feigen, Leo Castelli, and the heiress and his ex-wife, Christophe de Menil—a period of his life which will be the subject of the second exhibition in this series.
Protocol Pressure builds on [NAME]’s fourteen year history of producing books and programs that tell the story of artists, designers, curators, and scholars in the Americas whose practices have been forgotten or overlooked in dominant art and design histories. It is made possible through the generous support of the Knight Foundation, and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.