Oscar Abraham Pabon (b. 1984)

Boundary problems II

Image from Boundary problems II by Allen & Overy
Year: 2018
Material: 36 clay bricks
Dimensions: 200 × 172 cm

In 2010, Pabon participated in an art project in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). Trained as an architect, he saw that the dividing line between the rich and the poor in the city was marked by asphalt, as is the case in many Latin American cities. The “haves” have decent roads, the “have-nots” have to make do with dirt tracks. Pabon created a track with so-called Stepping Stones of concrete with the intention to break the boundary between “centre” and “periphery”. Pabon calls the project Salta Charcos, which means as much as jumping across the mud pool. His Stepping Stones track can be interpreted as a road to a better life.

In 2013, Pabon was invited for a residency at the Rijksakademie (State Academy of Fine Arts) where he trained in various disciplines. However, his first love of architecture is still clearly visible in his work. This is also the case in Boundary problems II. Take a trip through Latin America and you will notice construction activity everywhere. Wherever houses are built, you see the typical red brick that Pabon has used extensively in his art in recent years. For him, the use of this material is an ode to his Venezuelan birthplace and refers to the (economic) growth that many countries in the region are experiencing. Progress – like the bricks – is fragile. After all, building with cheap and widely available material does not necessarily guarantee sustainable and durable construction.

Even though Boundary problems II hangs on the wall, the work itself is also a kind of wall. The artist regularly finds himself at the crossroads of functionality and art. In this sense, the bolt is an equally necessary and beautiful artefact placed on an otherwise ordinary brick wall. Without trying to interpret everything too much, a lot of contemporary Latin American art often shows references to abstract geometric art and, as a consequence, to the founders of Latin American Modernism. Pabon’s bolt shape, which suggests a beautiful depth, is no exception.

Being from Venezuela originally, Pabon does not seem to be willing, or is unable, to withdraw from his responsibilities to help build a future for his country. The title of the work may refer to the question of where the wall ends and art begins. Alternatively, it could relate to his own struggle with boundary problems, navigating between two worlds.