After all the concept is a real part of what Oscar Wilde once described as a “[life’s] self-conscious aim to find expression.” But every once and again it’s the life, the happenings, that inspire the art. This is true of the works of Milton Becerra, who, over the past thirty-plus years has solidified his place at the forefront of Venezuelan contemporary art.
Starting to make waves while still a student at the Cristóbal Rojas School of Visual Arts in Caracas, Becerra was destined to deliver a message. It was merely 1970 when he garnered attention through his first solo exhibition and the point was a poignant one; stressing his distaste for the diminishing interest people were paying to culture and the protecting of it through the maintenance of the indigenous tribes, primarily in Venezuela. Always keen on commenting on societal issues, this became a common thread throughout what would turn out to be a prosperous and well-lauded career.
At the onset, environmental and ecological problems were the focus of his works and really the cornerstone of his concerns related primarily to the destruction of the native environments belonging to indigenous groups in the area and how said destruction would in turn affect the survival of their customs. The fear that the masses would be responsible for the breaking apart of these groups and their culture in modern times became his choice subject for artistic commentary. This sparked his involvement in the Land Art movement, a largely American art movement that uses bits of nature and landscape to create the works, which he embarked on through the use of elements from many native Venezuelan groups.
Today, similar references to nature and natural elements can still be seen in his work. And it’s no assumed interpretation, Becerra spent a great part of the 1980’s living and working with the natives of the Amazon, perfecting his understanding for their way of life and also learning how to master their crafts. Crafts that would, in their technique, also become integral parts of the way he made art. Weaving, for example, is an indigenous-taught practice that he employs to this day and that remains a part of the scope of work that he’s probably best known for which are his installations.
Larger than life works that incorporate elements almost caught in the crossfire of the threads that spew, at the same time haphazardly and in an organized fashion, across spaces. The woven threads, in the grasp of their knots and tangles hold memories. The stones, figurines, pieces of currency and elements of all kinds tell a story of a forgone time that begs to be discovered. There’s a history lesson hidden within each of his works.
Similarly relevant elements in his work include the empty space not occupied by the elements making up his installations as well as the lights and shadows cast by them. Becerra’s works have been enjoyed worldwide via his exhibitions at prestigious museums such as: The Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Fine Arts in Caracas; the Museum of Modern Art in Paris; the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro; the Ludwig Museum in Aachen, Germany; and the National Gallery of Art, to name a few.