Ricardo Báez-Duarte (Venezuela, 1950) defines himself as a painter-photographer, an integration of techniques and knowledge that is inevitable for him due to his training as a mathematician, philosopher, musician, and teacher. In the education that he received in different areas of knowledge, especially in the artistic field, the family environment in which he grew up, closely linked to the world of art, especially painting and music, had a great influence.

His academic education is carried out at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, where he graduated as a mathematician, then continued with a postgraduate degree at the University of California in the United States. Returning to Caracas, he works as a teacher at the Universidad Simón Bolívar and at the Universidad Metropolitana. Precisely at the latter university, between 1985 and 1990, he served as director of the School of Mathematics, where he participated in the Proyecto Metrópolis, a pioneering plan for the introduction of computer equipment as a pedagogical support tool in the classroom. The importance of this project was decisive for the artist: “Since then, I have had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the use of the computer in the creation of artistic work. I know and handle Photoshop from its first version to the present”. He is one of the pioneers in the country in the use of this digital image editing tool. Even today it continues to be an ally in the development of his photographic work.

1. Ricardo Baez Duarte. Serie Pinceles #1

The knowledge of digital tools, together with his interest in photography as an artistic expression, gave him a wide range of experimentation. However, meeting the photographer Lydia Fisher at the beginning of the nineties, meant an important influence for the development of his proposal. In this regard, Baez Duarte comments "for several years I worked very closely with her, advising her on the application of Photoshop for her creative work and during this period I received a definitive influence on my photographic work from her." At the beginning of the following decade, in 2003, he presented his work in the individual exhibition entitled “La Musique, La Mort et Le Neant” at the Galería Trasnocho in Caracas.

Báez Duarte breaks in various aspects the separation that has traditionally existed between painting and photography. One of them aims to unite the quality of photography to 'record' reality as an objective document, with the expressive and subjective quality of painting. However, it is important to point out that, although he unites both visual resources, the work is still a photograph.
2. Ricardo Baez Duarte. Apuntes: Cobija #2
Next, we quote the thought of Báez Duarte in relation to how he conceives the relationship between photography and painting.

"A photographer?
A painter?
Perhaps not a painter in the conventional use of the word, a painter
exclusively with the traditional tools of the profession, canvas, brushes, knives, acrylics and oils but also with a camera, a computer and digital software to obtain a fine art print as a final product.
The key is the process, the wonder and fear of the blank canvas when
start a creation vs. the cold, instantaneous click of the camera.”

Ricardo Baez Duarte

3. Ricardo Baez Duarte. Autum Meditation
This thought gives us the key to understand the creative process, not only in the visual aspect, but also in the procedural aspect of his work. His work is a photographic document intervened 'visually with images' of the gestural brushstrokes of color pigments. To achieve this effect, apply certain editing criteria in the selection of the visual field, superimpose images, play with color tones, angles, juxtapose layers. In this way he creates a narrated image, of elements with symbolic meanings, with chromatic changes and atmospheres. He often makes variations of the same motif. The result is a different image every time. He is a tireless worker and each of his series feeds very quickly. We are dealing with an image researcher who questions history, who is passionate about photography and painting, who knows the essence of both techniques, trying to relate them in artistic making. Although he has a wide field of interest, everything converges in blurring the boundaries between specialties.

In the works that we present in Arte Original there are two thematic classifications: abstraction and semi-abstraction. Serie Pinceles (1), Abstracto: Paisaje, Parque Da Vinci, Apuntes: Escultura, Apuntes: La Piscina, Apuntes: Sábana, Apuntes: Cobija (2), Apuntes: Cojín, to name just a few, references to the natural landscape, intimate spaces, everyday objects are observed, folds of fabrics, sculptures. In each one of them, the pictorial nature of the photographic image is observed, of the superimposition of planes, of the transparencies, of the stopped movement in certain sectors of the composition out of focus, or of the color saturation to generate greater intensity in the chiaroscuros, as well as the artifice of luminosity and textures. The identification of the original image is scarcely found in these series. In the semi-abstract works, this reference is clearer, and they are often natural landscapes, such as Cuadernos de apuntes, Azienda Montelujano: Reflections, Autumn Meditations (3), Spello: Collage (4), however, he applies the same intervention criteria as photography.

4. Ricardo Baez Duarte. Spello: Collage
As a thinker, he points out that his academic training in one of the branches of the exact sciences such as mathematics and in the humanistic field of philosophy, has not affected the search for controlled results. From our point of view, we think that possibly the influence that these lines of thought have is in carrying out a rigorous work method in their creative processes.
We are dealing with a researcher of the photographic image who rescues visual history, records, and modifies the 'objective' with a sensitive perspective, that of a nomad who, faced with the estrangement of the eye, recovers memory with an aesthetic, relational and critical mediation. Since 2018 he has lived in Italy and continues to dedicate himself to his work as a teacher in the field of digital photography and the study of contemporary philosophy.

Written by Anny Bello,

 Arte Original.

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