Mercedes (Clementina Marta Del Carmen) Pardo (1921-2005, Venezuela) was born on July 29, 1921, in La Pastora, Caracas, Venezuela. The eldest daughter of Rafael Pardo Becerra and Inés Mercedes Ponte Machado, Mercedes grew up between Isla de Margarita, Los Teques and the Venezuelan capital.
As early as age 7, Mercedes began drawing the landscapes of Antímano, a small town on the outskirts of Caracas, revealing her talent and passion for artistic expression. During her youth, Mercedes Pardo was taught painting, drawing and art by Danish professor Ingeborg Fostberg, along with the nephews of Tito Salas. Mercedes grew up surrounded by artists and works of art, all of which shaped her sensibilities.
At the age twelve, Mercedes Pardo began taking courses at the old Academia de Bellas Artes (Academy of Fine Arts), also called the Santa Capilla School, under the free tutelage of Antonio Edmundo Monsanto, a cousin of her father. Her uncle, Luis Alfredo López Mendez, also a painter, convinces the family to allow the young woman to pursue her vocation for art, with the support of her parents. Before the age of 20, she formally entered the Escuela de Arts Plásticas y Aplicadas de Cararas (Caracas School of Visual and Applied Arts), directed by Monsanto. She completed her studies in 1944.
In 1945, she married Marco Bontá, a stained glass and mural painting professor from Chile. The marriage ended in divorce shortly thereafter. She traveled to Chile to attend the Santiago Academy of Fine Arts (1947), where her first solo show was held.
In 1949, she was awarded a fellowship by the Government (Ministry of Education), and then moved to Paris to enroll at the École du Louvre, where she studied art history under Cohe de la Ferti and Jean Cassou. During this period, she began producing collages and her first abstract works. In 1951, she married Alejandro Otero in London.
In 1952, she returned to Venezuela and participated in the International Exhibition of Abstract Art (Cuatro Muros Gallery, Caracas). Abstractionism began to be recognized in Venezuela during the 1950s, and a climate of renewal for both artistic production and education was supported by Caracas University’s implementation of an artistic integration project and by the return of a generation of artists educated in France. Around 1956, Pardo began producing pieces that could be categorized as pre-informalist given their use of a rich pictorial layer, though her work tended toward a formal exploration of color effects. In 1956, she began doing stage sets with Elizabeth Schön’s Interval at the National Theater in Caracas. In 1960, she moved to Paris, where she painted abstract watercolors characterized by their lyrical brushstrokes, drips and blotches that created a highly dynamic artistic space.
In 1962, she became a founding member of the San Antonio de Los Altos Cooperative School in the State of Miranda, known today as the Community School and initiated its craft workshops, where she also taught. Working in architecture integration, she produced a number of pieces, including a stained-glass window at the La Hoyada station of the Caracas subway (1983), a mosaic mural at the J. M. de los Ríos Children’s Hospital (Caracas) and the ceiling of La Viña Shopping Center in Valencia (Carabobo State). In 1991, she held her most important anthological exhibition, Abodes of Color at the National Art Gallery. During her final years, she worked and lived in San Antonio de Los Altos (State of Miranda).
Mercedes Pardo became one of the most important representatives of abstract art in Venezuela. Her work revolved mainly around painting but also extended to stained glass, enamel on metal, printmaking, integration of the arts projects and theatrical set and wardrobe design. She was also an active and accomplished arts educator.