November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Pablo Caviedes/Art in Review

Pablo Caviedes  and "On the Map"

¨On The Map¨

Obamanation” or “Abomination?”

by  Dr. José Rodeiro
Art Editor

Ecuadorian-American artist Pablo Caviedes fashioned a powerful image titled On the Map, with an unseen apparatus that permits the image to rotate on the wall.  Caviedes’s painting  depicts the “continental” United States as an asphalt-bitumen colored floating Neo-Pop map-shape containing a Warholesque portrait of the USA’s 44th President: Mr. Barack Hussein Obama II, Esq.  The map floats on a painterly surface of tinted turquoise flecked with blood stains; all these subtle hues abstractly and symbolically connote (or suggest): “red,” “white,” and “blue.”   By means of his highly imaginative “conceptual figurative” style, Caviedes places his image at the forefront of a “new” Latin American Neo-Pop Art stylistic movement: “Neo-neopop,”  which coincides perfectly with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s insightful “Regarding Warhol” exhibition, on display in New York City until December 21.

Side View of "On the Map", by Pablo Caviedes

In keeping with this universal reconsideration of the Pop idiom in visual art, in another recent Caviedes painting titled On the Map, he included a self-portrait (check RAGAZINE’s recent events-page).  As in that piece, Caviedes’s new Obama image metaphorically illustrates the importance of centuries of human migration throughout the USA’s vast expanse.  Hence, in this new work, President Obama has become America’s “new face,” circuitously turning the entire nation into a suspended, “surreal” Mount Rushmore, coalescing all of Mount Rushmore’s US Presidents into “ONE:” “President Barack Obama,” who, although painted, appears to be carved in stone.

Thus, as Caviedes’s On the Map  image rotates around, the whole nation is miraculously transformed into a hovering and spinning Keystone, South Dakota, the spot near where Mount Rushmore stands.   Paradoxically, when pondering Caviedes’s On the Map’s allusion to Mount Rushmore, it is ironic to recall that Mount Rushmore’s sculptor Gutzon Borglum sympathized with and briefly joined the Ku Klux Klan from 1923-25, an organization associated with white supremacy, fanatic nationalism, and racism. Nevertheless, despite Boglum’s naiveté or the Klan’s narrow-minded prejudices, in his image, Caviedes optimistically views the USA as a “big” nation filled with great potential and hopeful promise; a nation historically built by pioneers, immigrants, refugees, captured slaves and explorers. Ultimately, all were in one way or another “immigrants;” even the Native Americans arrived from somewhere else!  For this reason, Caviedes’s image answers all the “Birthers,” by seeing Obama as “America(n),” which is for some on the political Right an “abomination,” and for others on the Left, an “Obamanation.”

Perhaps, the viewer’s first impression, upon seeing a tenebristic portrait shadow-map containing sideways depiction of a human face, might be one of havoc and confusion. However, in time, by slowly visualizing the face, the viewer can find many analogies to our present society’s misguided perceptions of current immigrants – including the inability to value or acknowledge the vital contributions immigrants make each day to assure America’s overall success. Wisely, Caviedes’s image On the Map asks us to look deeper, to examine America from the perspective that all Americans might become beacons of a public-spirited light, as Caviedes  describes  as the piece’s raison d’etre:

“Portraying the true identity of the United States of America presupposes an approach to immigration as an ongoing phenomenon, since people from all over the world have never stopped coming to our shores — an influx of human capital that has fueled the engine of innovation that powers this great nation.

Now more than ever, it is imperative to support and grasp a better understanding of the fundamental human rights of immigrants, which directly or indirectly affect all of us.  We are the seeds that sprout (day in and day out); we are the present and the future of this nation, as we continue to shape our multicultural identity — enriched with cultural manifestations from every corner of the planet.

These very same cultures give shape to this painting, in the metaphorical sense, as they delineate the states of this nation,  as they delineate a human face that becomes visible as we turn the painting — as the point-of-view of the spectator is shifted to visualize an image, which visibly has (or signifies) humanity’s 21st Century spirit.

Now more than ever, it is imperative to provide testimony that we as immigrants are also part of the whole, not merely statistics.  All of us also make up this image: in that we are Obama; we are the USA, etc.  It could even be argued that all of our faces populate this territory, as the face of our President takes on collective meaning, as the embodiment of a brighter future filled with hope for social justice.”

— Pablo Caviedes
New York, June 2012

For more about Pablo Caviedes, visit:


About the author:

Dr. Jose Rodeiro, Art Editor of Ragazine.CC,  is Coordinator of Art History, New Jersey City University. You can read more about him in “About Us.”