Tinted hydrostone on extruded Styrofoam
76,2 x 61 cm each, 9 parts
El Dorado Series consists of a set of nine abstract paintings (from a series of 10 — one is currently in a private collection) made of tinted hydrostone on extruded Styrofoam. The work refers to General Idea’s 1991 Maracaibo: ten collages of an extensive photographic archive belonging to a Venezuelan businessman who died of AIDS in 1988. The series of snapshots — representing hundreds of men of different skin color, either nude or dressed — was found by General Idea who appropriated it. Appropriation is central to many of General Idea’s artworks: the group drew on formats and aesthetics from sources in popular culture, archeology, and fine art. The work raised pressing and provocative questions linked to homosexuality, classes, races, AIDS, among others.
For this purpose, the group appropriated traditional caste paintings, first commissioned during the reign of Philip V of Spain (1700-1746) to map out the development of different interracial ethnic groups in South America, as a result of European colonialism. The El Dorado Series paintings, made of nine tones of colored hydrostone are abstracted interpretations of the 1763 “Casta Paintings” in the collection of Museo Etnológico, Madrid by Mexican artist Miguel Mateo Maldonado y Cabrera (1695-1768). Their subtitles identify specific types for each ethnicity: Sombujito, Morisco, Lobo, Coyote, Albarazado, Albino, Cuarteron, Mestizo, and Mulato.