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Pedro Terán (Barcelona, Venezuela, 1943) is considered one of the leading exponents in the appreciation, understanding and popularization of Conceptual Art in Venezuela. From the end of the 1960s, his work was characterized by its reflective nature and the use of diverse languages and visual strategies such as photography, performances, installations and interventions in urban and rural public spaces.
His seminal work La Tela (The Cloth), dating from 1977, presented in this exhibition for the first time in New York, consists of 13 photographs of a cloth that gradually unfolds until it becomes a cover for, and a part of, the artist’s body. In this gesture, Terán defies and questions the boundaries between the artwork and the artist’s body, between art and life.
To hide and to reveal are key processes of Terán’s work appearing throughout the exhibition and seen in the work Develamiento (Unveiling), 1972 and Identity card, 1972. These pieces not only play with the binary opposition between art and life, but also stimulate desire through the process of the dressing and undressing of the body of the artist.
This series of photographs also works on the relation between time and space, registering a performance in a certain place, usually static, and therefore including action and movement as key parts of the photographic composition. The emphasis on process, one of the main characteristics of 1970s global conceptualism, is worked from a pioneering perspective in Latin America by Terán when he presents the body as the art piece itself.
The performance element of his conceptual photographs and his work with mass media placed Terán in the centre of developing questions about the meaning and purpose of art – mimesis and life – that characterized the 1970s, placing him as one of most daring and compelling avant-garde artists of his generation. Exemplary of his influential career, his work became a blueprint for later generations of Venezuelan artists who come to regard Terán as an initiator and fomenter of the conceptual.
Between 1961 and 1964, Terán studied at the “Cristobal Rojas” School of Fine Arts, Caracas. He began to exhibit individually in 1964 and continued his artistic formation at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (1964-1966) and the London Film School, in England (1972-1974).
He has presented his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, including Unlimited Art, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1969); XVIII Sao Paolo International Biennial (1986); IV Havana Biennial (1991); Contrast/Contrastes, 10 Venezuelan Artists, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C. (1994); Pedro Terán, Territorios de lo Ilusorio y lo Real (1970-1995), Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas (1995); I Bienal de Artes Visuales del Mercosur, Porto Alegre (1977); Bienal Internacional de Arte Cumaná, Venezuela (1998); and “Las Casas de Oro/La Tela”, Centro de Arte Lía Bermúdez, Maracaibo, 2008 and Periférico Caracas/Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas, 2009.