Neil C. Trager


The conceptual underpinnings that guide the programming of contemporary art at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (SDMA) are rooted in explorations of artists who find common ground between quality technique and challenging content. This work invariably emanates from an incisive personal perspective, integrating confident and masterful methods with imagery that is evocative and, at times, unsettling. Often, as is the case with Rimer Cardillo, the work speaks of the human condition, directly and metaphorically. The exhibition that this catalogue accompanies, surveys almost four decades of Cardillo’s formidable and prolific accomplishments as a printmaker. As the first comprehensive retrospective of his career, this exhibition traces the replica watches artist’s intellectual, political, spiritual, and aesthetic approaches to his work, revealing a single-minded concern for content and expression that becomes significantly more complex as his work evolves. Reaching a pinnacle of complexity in the 1990s, the prints address what for the artist is the inextricable relationship between what is “spiritual, political, and eternal.”
I first encountered Rimer Cardillo in 1992 while organizing the exhibition Uncommon Ground: 23 Latin American Artists. The exhibition set a benchmark at the museum, defining an ongoing commitment to investigating issues about identity and displacement — physical and psychological — and the collision of replica watches uk cultures that defines human experience. My introduction to Cardillo’s work was ironically through a video of one of his many trips through Latin America. As I watched, it soon became clear to me that the artist I was about to meet would define what was uncommon not only in Latin American art, but also in contemporary art practice.
Classically trained in Germany and his native Uruguay, Cardillo expertly employs the most sophisticated printmaking techniques — often in a single print — to create images that are layered in meaning, and visually compelling. I have encountered few artists whose reverence for craft is employed as skillfully as Cardillo’s, and few who so effectively weave together beautiful imagery with content that can be at the same time, serene, disquieting, and challenging. In the catalogue that accompanied Cardillo’s 1998 exhibition at the Bronx Museum, curator Marysol Nieves cogently defined what is essential to understanding the essence of Cardillo’s work:
“Ultimately, Cardillo’s artistic practice represents a poignant desire to preserve and (re)establish the sacred bonds with nature as the final vestige of individual and collective histories and as a source of rolex replica life and hope for recoding the future. Thus, his work is tantamount to a symbolic recuperation of nature as an agent of cultural spiritual, and ecological healing — a potent combination for an aesthetic of reclamation and renewal.”
I am profoundly grateful to Rimer Cardillo for his friendship, his support of the SDMA, and for his personal assistance with the production of every aspect of this exhibition and catalogue design. Special thanks to Dr. Karl Emil Willers, Curator of Exhibitions at the SDMA, for his tireless efforts on behalf of the project, his curatorial vision, and in particular for his incisive essay which appears in this publication. I also am grateful to Professor Arnd Schneider for his insightful interview with the artist, and to Professor Carlos S. Carbonell for his intimate perspective on Cardillo’s long-term engagement with insect imagery; and James Shine for his assistance with the translation of essays. Thanks to Bob Capozzi for his assistance during the organization of the exhibition, and for producing the accompanying website. For her advice and suggestions about the catalogue and organizational aspects of the project, I extend my thanks and gratitude to Laurie Greenberg.
At the SDMA and SUNY New Paltz, I am especially grateful to Amy Pickering for her assistance with the proofreading of the catalogue; Wayne Lempka for managing the myriad administrative details associated with the project; Cynthia Dill and Owen Harvey for the preparation of objects and their installation, and Judi Esmond for the events and interpretive programs developed to enhance the project. I am most grateful to Mary Kastner and Jan Harrison for the elegant design of the catalogue, and to Christine DeLape and Patricia Phillips for the editorial assistance they provided. Heartfelt thanks to Steven Poskanzer, President of SUNY New Paltz; David Lavalle, Provost; Kurt Daw, Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts; and David Dorsky, Chair of the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, for their encouragement and unwavering support of the museum.

Neil Trager is the Director of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.