Ricardo Cabret Softens Our Tech-Driven Tensions

The Puerto Rican painter and computer engineer allows his two spheres of practice to inform one another, yielding intricately gridded canvases that both reveal and shed a soft light on the entanglements between man and machine.

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Ricardo Cabret, 37, Queens (@ricardocabret)

Title of work: Un Nuevo Manglar (A New Mangrove), 2023. 

Where to see it: “Un Nuevo Manglar” at Kohn Gallery (1227 North Highland Ave, Los Angeles) until June 17.

Three words to describe it: Layered, cryptic, ethereal.

What was on your mind at the time: The development of systems of infrastructure, which tend to happen in isolated ways, rather than dealing systemically with the needs of a place or a community, and without a sense of globality. You can see that in this painting, where there are concentrations of grids in certain areas, while others remain completely ungridded, almost as if they were neglected or ignored.

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: This work is upside down! Because I often work from varying vantage points that are mathematical, it takes me a while to see how the work should sit, and sometimes I don’t see it until it is completely done. This one especially, because of the density of the grids, had me wondering how it was meant to be viewed, until the very end when I flipped it and realized I painted it upside down. Whoever ends up with this painting will have a funny note from me on the back.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: This was the last work I made and carries the title of my solo exhibition which translates to “a new mangrove.” In my practice, I’m always interweaving paint and code, and embracing that tension between mathematical and measured gestures that come out of my code works with the freedom and intuition painting allows me. There’s also always the underlying aspect of landscapes, which can come from all over the world but tend to emerge from Puerto Rico, where I’m from. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the mangrove and how it functions as a rhizome, which feels like a really poetic way to think about my practice overall, and the ways in which the digital and the physical are so entangled.

One song that captures its essence: “Madriga” by David Sanchez.

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