Pedro dreams the landscape as an organic mosaic, fluid, lush in flowers and in exotic fruits. Fleshy pulp wearing the skin of an image. Collective subject fabled in the vegetation mimicking the body of the indigenous, the black, the mestizo, the settler. An embarrassing coexistence between those who impose themselves as lords of others, and those who, even when subdued, still know how to be masters of themselves. Echoes of the antagonism which has always sustained the identity forged to qualify all of that which existed in the new lands found by the people of the Old World. Captive of fertile imagination associated with taxonomic description, the Tropical Paradise was envisioned by the foreign perspective. Under the sign of hedonistic exaltations full of clichés, historically, the representation given to the inhabitants of America was prepared for export, and thus its fate sealed to posterity.
Fomented in a melting pot of heterogeneous references, the collective memory links the wild, strange and seductive nature, to odd characters, adventurous or extravagant, often of relaxed moral character. Amid the sensory whirlwind offered by the tropics, excess is the norm. A copious overflowing release.
The artist feeds upon this vast iconographic universe linked to his reality. He compiles symbolic fragments of the utopian imagery projected on his territory over time. The figures illustrated in Varela’s portraits are part of a collection of pop-up allusions to characters that lurk in the crevices of the tangle formed by the fantastic dense vegetation. The procedure of collage of visual references brings together anachronistic elements, such as: anonymous people portrayed by Debret, the slave Anastacia, a Blemmyae, sub commander Marcos, Guignard’s tiny churches, Carmen Miranda, Blue (protagonist of the animated film "Rio"), the skull symbol of BOPE, among others. A true iconic remix in which fiction permeates the reality of an invented tradition. The assembly of the scene is intertwined with rhythmic cadence and fluidity, sewing disparities in an aggregative plot offered to the delight of the eyes.
Transparent stains project planes that give depth to the space. Figures spiral into dense clusters, as if subjected to some organic thickening process. Lines delineate latent designs to be filled in. Forms naturally spring from the vacuum, seemingly materialized from the primordial nothing. Thus, gradually, filled contours gain volume, although the chromatic restriction to black and white keeps the schematic layout in evidence. Thus, the contrast between the presence and absence is emphasized.
The game of opposites goes beyond the inner dynamics of the work, so as to also encompass existing polarities in the logic that connects groups of works created by the artist. In contrast to his canvases, for example, there are works on paper made by means of two opposed basic procedures: The trimming of the drawing contours so as to disengage it from its support, or the drilling through the surface so that the line is created by the hollow space. That which previously represented the full versus the empty of the pictorial background now becomes loose skin in front of a larger background, which is the world itself out of the two-dimensional plane. Or, conversely, he produces situations in which the figures are actually the exterior background seen through cuts in the representational surface, converted to frame with this gesture. If on the canvases the duality comes from the rhythmic balance between the zone of saturation and the blank interval, on the paper cut-outs what prevails is the tension between the continuity and the rupture of the plane. Figures transpose the fictional physical space by relating to the three-dimensional environment. Inside and outside intertwine, unfolding the image between embossments and shadows. Thus, by exploring the rhythmic power of the intervals, Pedro Varela offers an almost tactile quality to the sight.