Alejandro Otero began his artistic education at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas de Caracas (1939) and continued studying in Paris (1945). In the French capital he produced the series Cafeteras (1946-1947), in which, progressively, he shifted from figurative representation to abstract painting. The exhibition of the Cafeteras at the Museo de Bellas Artes (Caracas, 1949) caused great consternation among the members of Venezuela’s artistic community. In 1950 he returned to France and founded Los Disidentes, a Venezuelan group of young artists and intellectuals who, from Paris, rebelled against the traditional styles dominant in Venezuela’s artistic circle and promoted a movement of aesthetic renovation that culminated with the development of abstract-geometric art in the country. With Líneas coloreadas sobre fondo blanco (1951) and the collages Ortogonales (1951-1952), Otero focused on the search for a new space in art and the relationship between chromatic freedom and structural rigor.
He married Mercedes Pardo, in 1951, and returned to Venezuela in 1952 where he participated in architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva’s project at the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas. His pictorial work continued with Coloritmos (1955-1960), planks crossed by white and black bands, with geometric forms of color in between, in which, the alternating bands created a rhythmical dynamism. In 1957 he confronted Miguel Otero Silva in defense of abstract art and, the following year, he received the Premio Nacional de Pintura.
Otero returned to Paris in 1960 and began a new artistic phase under the influence of Informalism and New Realism. He produced Monocromos (works in which color tended more and more towards white and the surface became pasty and gestural), the Ensamblajes and the Encolados (in which he incorporated objects and remnants in compositions stressing materiality). These works, of great dramatic quality, were later considered by Otero as being excessively intimate. In 1964 he returned to Venezuela and, together with Mercedes Pardo, was awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Aplicadas. He made new series of Encolados and Ensamblajes, among them Papeles encolados (1965), which were collages of newspaper pieces dyed with color that retained texts and the printed images. The collages were constructed from dense chromatic planes that were combined with great freedom. In 1966 the gallery Signals London organized a retrospective of Otero’s work.
From 1967 on, Otero’s interest became focused on the relationship between art, technology and science. His series of Esculturas Cívicas were great metallic structures with revolving vanes activated by the action of the wind and animated by the reflection of light and landscape. These works were characterized by a changing appearance of color, density and brightness. These works were were a project for the Zona Férrica del Conde (1967). Some of them were produced when Otero was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, United States, 1971). Amongst the works of this period were: Rotor (Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela, 1968), Ala solar (Bogota, Colombia, 1975) Delta Solar (Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C., United States, 1977), Estructura solar (Palacio Olivetti, Ivrea, Italy), Abra solar (Plaza Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela, 1982) and Torre solar (Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolivar, Bolivar, Venezuela, 1986).
Parallel to these sculptures Otero developed graphical works including the monotypes he made with Luisa Palacios and Humberto Jaimes Sánchez for Aníbal Nazoa’s book Humilis herba of (1968). In 1973 he began the series Tablones, an evolution of the Coloritmos, in which colors related freely on white spaces. In 1985 the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas showed a major retrospective of his work.