Arco viejo [Old Arch]
79.7 cm x 79.7 cm (31 3/8 in. x 31 3/8 in.)
(Buenos Aires, 1930 - 1987, Buenos Aires)
Latin America, Argentinean
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Barbara Duncan, 1973
Carlos Silva is one of Latin America’s finest, though lesser known, Optical artists. Unlike other artists who first trained as graphic designers, Silva did not appropriate the clear compositions and bright colors of commercial design. Instead his paintings possess a certain mystery and a strongly sensuous quality. In Arco viejo Silva drew the oval shapes that make up the central area in pencil by hand. The delicate hesitation in the pencil marks creates a certain tension with the overall dynamic of the work in all its space-age composition. Silva seems to be suggesting that art is still essentially a human activity, one that cannot be replicated by machines. Another difference between Silva’s painting and the repetitive patterns of much Op art can be seen in the orange margin along the top and right-hand sides of the canvas. The orange color implies a fading light source, like a sunset, further complicating the already complicated three-dimensional effect of the painting.