Geometrías en paralelo

Ary Brizzi and María Martorell

Few artists shared as many spaces and a common vision as Ary Brizzi and María Martorell. Although they were only circumstantially part of a group, criticism and history brought them together.

By the mid-1950s, geometry had become a movement of great intensity, variety and international projection. It was the language of Modernism in painting, design, architecture and the arts in general. In Argentina, a third wave, called neo-concretism, emerged after the tradition forged by artists of the stature of Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito, Enio Iommi, Gyula Kosice, Arden Quin and Raúl Lozza, among the masters of the 1940s.

María Martorell was born in Salta in 1909. Ary Brizzi, in Buenos Aires in 1930. They belonged to the same artistic generation despite the significant age difference between them. María married young, raised a family and postponed her vocation, like many women of her time. Ary, already at the age of 15, while attending the School of Fine Arts, worked with her father and brother in architecture and interior design. They are two different lives that converge in the same passion, sustained with talent and tenacity. The first time they exhibited together was in 1963, when Romero Brest invited them to the exhibition Eight Constructive Artists, at the National Museum of Fine Arts, together with Manuel Espinosa, Raul Lozza, Eduardo Sabelli, Miguel Angel Vidal and Carlos Silva. That same year, 1963, the panoramic exhibition Del Arte Concreto a la Nueva Tendencia [1]included both artists and categorically identified them with that “new tendency”. A new trend that, starting from the main concepts of concrete art (total abstraction and autonomy of form, abolition of illusionism, scientific aesthetics), ventured to go further, transforming geometry according to the laws of the human eye. The “generative art”[2], optical and kinetic, more linked to Europe, and the color field and the hard edge, of American origin, made up the innovations that both Martorell and Brizzi practiced in those nascent 1960s.[3]

With a similar background, based on Bauhaus methodology, the heritage of Russian constructivism and the external and local tradition of concrete art, Brizzi and Martorell chose to work in series, introducing small variations on a given initial proposition; investigating the syntax of color in relation to forms, real or virtual movement, light and its infinite plastic and symbolic implications.

The artistic model of personalities such as Max Bill – winner in 1952 of the grand prizes at the first South American biennial, the São Paulo Biennial – and Victor Vasarely, who exhibited his work in Buenos Aires in 1958 after participating in the IV Biennial, left their mark on the poetics of geometry and multidisciplinary development. Both artists and designers blurred the boundaries of art.

Martorell witnessed the changes from Europe. He lived there for two years, between 1955 and 1956, and avidly visited museums and workshops of contemporary artists such as Georges Vantongerloo, Nicolas Schöeffer and Jesús Soto, who were embarking on the new geometric directions.

With its vocation for total abstraction, concrete art had left a question floating in the air for the next generation to resolve: what is the subject of painting? Centuries of figurative art, of representation, had put geometry at the crossroads of having to defend itself from the consideration of being a “decorative style”.

The theme of a work of art, Martorell pointed out, is “its harmony, its rhythm. The theme is only the means of directing our attention towards appearances and inviting us to go through those appearances to reach its spirit”.

In line with these reflections, Brizzi asserted that painting is a “unique fact caused by the use of a unique medium”, that the “plastic fact” is given without support in any other reality than itself and its purpose is “to sensitize human perception and its inner vision”.

Thus, was born a painting that is as close to the eye as it is to the unapproachable “inside”, to the spirit of both the artist and his audience. However, this approach without known objects, metaphors, or literary narratives gradually became a language that encapsulated the most basic and yet most sophisticated forms of human perception. Governed by the laws of vision, sensual curves navigate through spaces of clear colors; they attract, repel, change course. A beam of light breaks a plane, shatters into the colors that form it. Circles and lines reverberate in the extreme contrast of black and white. These were just some of the themes of geometry that Martorell and Brizzi worked on, filling their canvases with musical resonances. Precisely music, in its extreme abstraction, was one of the models used to think these compositions detached from representation, as strict and rational as close to emotions.

Artists with a vocation for knowledge, both were self-trained in the reading of diverse materials that concentrated the interests of their time: science, technology, the extension of art to design and daily life.

From the beginning, Brizzi designed and applied his artistic patterns to pieces of graphic art and advertising. The “studies” he carried out between 1955 and 1962 are works in themselves and show that application to communication which, no one doubts anymore, does not reside only in words. Using state-of-the-art materials such as synthetic enamels, then acrylics and innovative metallic alloys, he painted, created sculptures and practiced a craft that he then called “commercial architecture” and that covered the urgent needs of exhibition in the innovative industrial fairs of the economic bonanza of developmentalism.

On this path of art extension, Martorell, enraptured by the medieval tapestries she had seen in France, wondered what would be the destiny of tapestry from Salta, still considered a handicraft. Tuning tradition with modernity would allow her to speak of a contemporary textile art based on pre-Inca motifs, the myths and legends of the Argentine Northwest and the expert hands that still executed them. From this incursion was born the collaboration with Salta artist Carlos Luis “Pajita” García Bez and his weavers, who combined Andean geometry with contemporary geometry in Martorell’s designs; a virtuous encounter that still echoes today and the textile boom.

During the 70’s, in the Acrylics Paolini company awards, Brizzi and Martorell were also keen to create “useful” (design) and “useless” (artistic) objects with the precious material, acrylic, which connoted the beauty and practicality of modern life.

At the same time as these explorations, in 1966, Brizzi and Martorell were part of Grupo 13 (G13), which had its presentation in Buenos Aires [4]and represented a true compendium of the geometric tendencies of the time. The exhibition received excellent comments, such as those of the critic Cayetano Córdova Iturburu, who saw in its excellence the counterpart of the Braque Prize, dedicated to celebrating the “nothings of the Pops”.[5]

Indeed, the new geometry was contemporary to other trends in figuration such as pop or the youth of the “urban myths”, as the French critic Pierre Restany described them.

That same year, Brizzi and Martorell participated in 11 Pintores Constructivos, in which they coincided once again with Espinosa, Mac Entyre and Vidal. Obviously, these coincidences are not coincidental-nor is the current one we are presenting-since, unlike other trends in contemporary art, geometry was a space of confluences rather than differences. It signified an international language, a sort of Esperanto of forms, for which Europeans and Americans in general had been fighting since the beginning of the twentieth century; a language that, like all languages, gradually incorporated “words” that made it as accessible as figuration had been traditionally. Light, the pictorial representation of light, was one of them. The scales of values, also called degradé, burst into the work of Brizzi and Martorell to blur planes, turn color into atmosphere, deny the two-dimensionality of the support or launch into a world of visual and symbolic suggestions that were previously labeled as naturalistic.

Geometry accompanies us today as evidence of a place of mastery in Argentine art. It was a trend that triumphed at international level, which was loaded with new meanings accompanying the times, but which, essentially, speaks from modernity.

María José Herrera

Historian and curator. Author of the book Ary Brizzi. The Harmony of Modernity (in press 2023) and co-author of María Martorell. The energy of color (2013)

[1] Organized by the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Buenos Aires (MAM).

[2] Creado por Eduardo Mac Entyre y Miguel Ángel Vidal en 1960.

[3] They also coincided in Beyond Geometry (1967), an anthological exhibition that introduced the “new sculpture”, the primary structures, held at the Di Tella Institute, on Florida Street.

[4] Exhibiting with Armando Durante, Manuel Espinosa, María Juana Heras Velasco, Jorge Lezama, Mac Entyre, César Paternosto, Alejandro Puente, Sabelli, Carlos Silva, María Simón and Vidal.

[5] Cayetano Córdova Iturburu, “Dos caras de una medalla”, El Mundo newspaper, Buenos Aires, July 31, 1966.

Edgardo Giménez – Once upon a time…

Edgardo Giménez is presenting at María Calcaterra gallery “Once upon a time… “ an exhibition that is a small anthology with works from different periods.

Laura Batkis, curator and great friend of the artist, met with Edgardo to talk  and do this interview in which Giménez makes his interests clear and his position about art.

Laura Batkis: What is the function of art, or what is it for?

Edgardo Giménez: The art has to serve to make you feel good and happy. If the art doesn’t  have an important rol in your life is because you are not in front of a work of art. I mean, art has to be put to the test. The real art does not leave you unharmed.

LB: It has to make the viewer happy and whoever believes it,

EG: Im already happy to did it. The real true artist do whatever it want, like it or not to the people. No net. I have to thank God that gave me the posibility to choose what

is to be in connect permanent with the creation.

LB: The exhibition is the best part?

EG: No, the major part is when im making the piece of art and its

LB: It came to you often?

EG: ¡¡¡Yes!!! ¡¡I have a facility for it occurs to me that you don´t know!! I have one instant creativity, like coffee.

LB: you are all the time like…

EG: ¡Connected! With something.

LB: Do you write your ideas?

EG: No. It´s all about memory. It can think of works that are triggers to make an exhibition.

LB: Speaking of ideas, let´s talk about conceptual art

EG: Im not interested. Because it doesn´t moves you.

LB: And if one idea active the thought?

EG: ¡Art is visual! If you want to make a text, you have to dedicate to write. You have to choose lenguage. And if it not

LB:When did you realize that you want to become an artist?

EG: At the age of 4. Lets say that i always knew it. I loved the Walt Disney world, that was one of release to enter to the creation.

LB: And then you realize that art let you scape of every day life

EG: Yes, that cames naturally for me.

LB: Be like somewhere else…

EG: Yes, and more now that the world is getting worse, there´s no breathing. The salvation that i have always had is to be linked with creation, a place of pleasure, in which im not at all isolated from what is happening outside, im aware of everything.

LB: I mean, it´s not necessary to be in a place suffering without allowing some things

EG: i don´t believe in suffer at all.

LB: And how it´s that?

EG: I always consider that being alive is a big blessing. The thing is that the vast majority of people either don´t know what they want and don´t know what turns them on happy. It is very serious and rare, they think that the thing is on one way and then they realize no, not on that way, that it was another, but they dont even know which one is the other either.

LB: And you realice very quickly which way was…

EG: Yes. Im from Santa Fe, when my aunt took me to the movies to watch snow white i came out levitation.

LB: Is the proposal you give to the people, to enter that world of imagination.

EG: I´ll tell you an anecdote. There was a marriage that was fighting in the room where there was a work of mine, a cute one. Since she was waiting for the monkey to looked at her, she told her husband to go to the other room because the monkey wouldn’t let her concentrate on the fight. That sounds great to me. After this, i made the house for her, and one day she told me that she had a defect, and that is that she would not let her leave the house because she was very happy there. That’s what happens to people when they enter that orbit, they don’t want to leave anymore. This is the idea with art.  That they realize that there is a different way of living, that it is better, more pleasant. Being in daily contact with beauty is good. It is like listening to a wonderful sound of a brilliant composer that reaches you somewhere, that only that sound reaches you. When you have the radars to listen to that, you live better.  It is about appreciating all the things that help you to live better.

LB: In this exhibition there will be works whose sketches are from the 60’s and 70’s, making work physics of previous works that you had draw.

EG: Yes, the skyscrapers, for example. They will have lights inside. I think that’s a great thing of the big cities where everything is light and such an incredible scenography.

LB: There is something parodic in your works

EG: There are always parodies, of course. There are humorous comments about reality. For get out of the everyday that is overwhelming.

LB: Are you excited to do this exhibition?

EG: Its excites me just like the first time. Just like the first time.

Víctor Magariños D. – In silence

Some artists need to be kept at a certain distance. They are authors whose works we just have to “pass over in silence,” as Derrida would say. They are artists who are doomed or blessed to remain lonely, to have their own anatomy occur in time and space, with singular and endogamic forces. They take place in reality, or graze it, without the need for extra accommodations or external narratives.

Do not be mistaken, these are not works with an arrogant self-sufficiency, fortified images, or impenetrable geographies. They are simply works that create energy and do not need external stimuli to go into action. The eyes wander on the paper, canvas, object, and tie together each signifier and signified in their different dimensions. Magariños does not distract himself with the creation of novel artifices. He insists on an alphabet that shows the virtues of the laws of vision and perception, which controls the extent of what is possible in the cosmos and of man in the cosmos, and which shows the highest splendors, with mystery, playfulness—replicating thousands of illusions. An alphabet that exhibits elements and structures without borders, where nothing restricts the modern artist as “historical truth” is to shred his works of their temporal dimension, their ability to continue to take place in the present, when their imaginary, with the passing of time, finds the events. That is why history is never about the past, but about the future. The artist’s creations are inventions of energy that never stop vibrating together in their supplements on the intervened support: colors, rhythms, arabesques, symbols, crossings, flags, constructive furniture, scaffolding planks, masts, threads, echoes, orography, bows, weavings, crosses, the open heart of possible roses or invisible peonies, the atom with its photons and electrons, fractured or endless lines, and all the elements that live in expectation on the stretcher.

As regards non-figurative art from the 1910 onwards, the stories are well known. Abstract and non-figurative movements and schools multiplied around several European countries as part of the fight for abstraction. The Russian avant-gardes, such as constructivism and rayonism; Kandinsky in Germany; neo-plasticism or Mondrian’s De Stjil and van Doesburg in Holland; vorticism in Great Britain; orphism in Paris with Delaunay; within Italian futurism, Balla’s and Severini’s approaches and Emilio Pettoruti’s abstract drawings from 1914; Arp and his painted wood reliefs, and another Dadaist, Kurt Schwitters, with his Merz, were the most outstanding examples of the cosmopolitan scene and, already in the 20s, the German Bauhaus was showing its abstract experiences in design, painting and architecture.

The controversies between abstraction and non-figuration, free and geometric abstraction, abstraction and concretism, between constructivism, suprematism and Pevsner’s realism soon showed the diversity that had been opened in art after banishing any trace of depictions of reality. The position of concrete artists—to which Magariños early adhered to—was established in 1930 by Theo van Doesburg in the magazine Art Concret. Non-figuration did not rely on a process of abstracting from reality, comes from the fantasy of being able to make the “true” past known leaves historical imagination out of the picture.

Horacio Zabala

Reflections Regarding “A Tensed Serenity”[1]

Prisons, labyrinths, cartographies and newspapers make up a thematic repertoire that Horacio Zabala has visited between the beginning of the 70s and the late 90s. “Una serenidad crispada” (A Tensed Serenity), the exhibition we are presenting, brings together unseen works from those series, put aside by exiles, migrations and changing moods that have let them on stand-by. They speak again today from the power of a collection of images that give themselves new meaning when inserted at the core of current issues; they show the passing of time and appeal to memory.

Prisons, labyrinths and cartographies were the baggage with which Zabala arrived in Europe after leaving Buenos Aires, in 1976. It was the heavy backpack that he carried with the nightmare of dictatorships, authoritarian disciplines and the tensed illusion of a serene order that would restore the usefulness of the aesthetic. As regards the newspaper series, duplicated, crossed out, obturated, it is carried out in the European context where, much more clearly than in Argentina, one could see the power of the simulation: that relationship between reality, symbols and society through communication media that Baudrillard conceptualized. The “first world” of that time was the occasion for a reflection that today, due to the expansion of mass media and technology, has become global.

It all seems to have started with Este papel es una cárcel (This Paper is a Jail), the written text and its photographic image, where the paper, as a two-dimensional limit, restricts artistic expression. The statement quickly goes from the particular to the general, and results in a true theory of art: “art is a prison.” Why would art be a prison? Because of the rules it imposes on both the artist and the material? Because of the canons it establishes and, with swiftness and indifference, then discards? The truth is that, since its beginnings, art has been a system, and the prison metaphor definitely suits it. Artistic freedom has always been subject to the patrons’ demands, the academic rules or the laws of the market. There has never been total freedom other than as the tensed loneliness inside the four walls of the artist’s workshop. In Zabala’s “prisons for artists”, the very will to give form to a material is another prison if we agree with Luigi Parevson,[2] who characterized the artist as the only human being “who forms for the sake of forming”, and that they cannot avoid that condition. Therefore, the prisons for artists that Zabala projects resonate as a memory of the ascetics, the eremites, the monks in their cells. Those who, in isolation, maximum austerity, poverty and introspection, improve their spirit, get access to the mystical or, simply, to their own creativity. The period gave new meaning to these prisons by reading them as an allegation against the censorship, the political revolts and the authoritarianism of the late 60s and forwards.

This is how Glusberg records that time in the prologue of “Anteproyectos”[3] (Draft Projects), Zabala’s exhibition at the CAYC, in 1973: Zabala tries to “make explicit the repressive structures of the society in which he was destined to act as an artist and as an architect.” In 1972, the artist had become part of the Grupo de los Trece.[4] “Anteproyectos”, the exhibition, was inaugurated on May 11th, 1973, a few days before the constitutional president Héctor J. Cámpora took office and granted pardon to the political prisoners of Onganía and his successors’ military regime. It is clear how the social and political reality of the time was, for Zabala and the Grupo de los 13, an urgent matter to address. The group’s collective poetics were based on the absolute economy of material mediums, a “poor” art, focused on signaling processual and performative issues. However, already at that time, another latent reality was gaining official relevance: the global environmental crisis. The Stockholm Conference, as the meeting convened by the UN in 1972 was called, made clear the problems the planet was suffering due to the continuous transformation that human life imprints on it. That same year the Argentinian Ecological Society was founded. With their calling to insert themselves in what was “real”, the Grupo de los Trece was a fertile ground to think about the dimensions of ecology that Félix Guattari proposed in The Three Ecologies:[5] the one referring to the environment, the one of social relations —the ways we are in a group— and the mental ecology or of human subjectivity. Understood as such, ecology is an ecosophy, that is to say, it has an ethical and aesthetic position before a truly rapidly changing world. The technical-scientific mutations, the demographic growth and the mass media’s dangerous uniformity in forming opinion and delivering information were topics for the CAYC’S conceptual and political art in its ecological approach. Since the early 70s, arte de sistemas—a category idiosyncratic to the CAYC[6]—has developed poetics through which artists signal themes such as nature and its cycles (Carlos Ginzburg, Edgardo Vigo),[7] the opposition between nature and the artifice (Luis F. Benedit, Víctor Grippo), malnutrition and world hunger (Vicente Marotta), the fallacies of modern urbanism, pollution, plagues and the destruction of cities (Clorindo Testa, Gonzalez Mir, Jacques Bedel), the archaic rituals that bring man back to nature (Alfredo Portillos) and the disciplinary institutions that threaten subjectivity, in Horacio Zabala’s case.

As an architect, Zabala understands the ways of Living, Working, Circulation and Recreation, as preached by the Lecorbusian bible, the tradition under which he studied. However, his text/manifest for “Anteproyectos”[8] reveals the extension of his poetics, for example, by taking interest in design as a rational instrument applicable to everyday life. Concepts such as the design of a trip, the design of garbage or food that Zabala not with little irony aims at, in 1973, are common languages, current in the jargon of marketing, tourism and global consumptions of extreme luxury. Diametrically opposed to this, the design of an anti-structure, a prison architecture or a shantytown points to the failure of modernist proclaims. The draft project for “an act of freedom” enthrones the poetry by softening the dystopic discourse. However, the final proposal, the destruction of a vegetal, an animal and a mineral, was already in progress…

Analyzing the coding present in the representation of space in order to expose the ideological backings that support it is the basis for his fascination with maps, “reduced models” in his words. Starting from the popular school maps that are sold in bookstores, Zabala draws a universe of undisciplined actions that cartography does not accept due to their hypothetical and, in many cases, premonitory character, such as the immense black hole that the fire has left on the map of South America at the heart of Amazonia. Un fuego eternamente vivo (A Fire Eternally Ignited) resonates in the present day with the fires caused by climate change, as well as evokes the political situation of rebellion, censorship and totalitarianism that the Southern Cone was experiencing then. The stamp, which the artist uses repeatedly, is the weapon/tool of a bureaucracy that is rushed to catalogue, select or stigmatize. It imprints its thirst for censorship on mountains, plains and rivers. The political boundaries—arbitrary, won with the force of gunpowder—break down and carve plateaus of cultural understanding or libertarian aspirations. Zabala projects hidings, deformations and sinkings, which compete with the natural or artificial cataclysms that leave entire nations “erased from the map.” Vast extensions of territory become disperse as explosive shards. These reaccommodations have the power of a symbol, of an allegation and a denunciation, along with the tension of a catastrophic demiurge. “Someone please save us from the certainties of the strategists and their projections”, the artist seems to say.

“These drawings don’t need anything more or anything less,” explains Zabala about the labyrinths he made in 1973 and which had never been exhibited before today. Contemporary to the prisons, they both belong to the genre of “ideal or visionary architecture.”[9] These draft projects were envisioned with the knowledge that they were not going to be put to practice. Regardless, Zabala inserts himself in the prestigious tradition of “drawing table architecture,” where innovation and the evocative power of shapes and imaginary parties is fruitful in modern architecture.

The draft projects for monumental labyrinths show the formal complexity—we would say baroque—of its plants, which contrasts the rationalistic simplicity of the facades shown in cross sectional view. Once again, Zabala “hides” to show. Both cells and labyrinths, imagined for a single person, are not habitats, no one could live in them. But one could certainly get lost in them: in the cells, because of the psychological alienation caused by isolation; in the labyrinth, because of the anguish of not finding the way out. Generally, labyrinths are vegetal, an expression of topiary art.[10] Zabala’s monumental labyrinths, on the other hand, are made of solid walls—surely made of stone, brick or concrete—, although it is not indicated in the image. In these various draft projects there are elements or ways to create that wink at styles, cultures and iconographies: as in the case of the fretwork, the stars or the mirror symmetries. Thus, the labyrinths seem to allude to everything and nothing; they are universes within themselves, enigmatic, eclectic, and connoted by the attractiveness of the ornament, a crime that causes tension with the functionalist morals of modern architecture.[11]

The feeling of confinement is palpable even in the linear drawing. The labyrinth is a riddle, it appeals to the walker’s intelligence on his way through it; however, it does not only engage the walker’s mind, but also their entire body. Experiencing some of these labyrinths could be an oppressive experience, such as walking around the Memorial to the Holocaust Victims of Europe,[12] in Berlin; precisely, a labyrinth in which spaces become narrower, stones block the outside, the visitor goes up and down, and the horrors of genocide are relived symbolically and physically. Inaugurated in 2005, its abstract allegory makes it a true contemporary monument.

Zabala’s labyrinths express their own time period, the disruptive 70s, which were lived as a dead end—and, in fact, they were for many people—, but, without a doubt, they resonate in current artistic strategies aimed at commemorating the tragedies of contemporary times.

In the early 80s, in Vienna, where Zabala and his family settled, the artist began working on a series of real newspapers (ready-mades) that were duplicated and crossed out. Italian philosopher Mario Perniola wrote the prologue for these works and pointed out that the conceptual operation of “censoring” the newspapers, crossing them out, implied thinking that “nothing that belongs to the world of mass media deserves to be saved: there are no remnants of the catastrophe that need to be preserved.”[13] In effect, Zabala crossed things out to say “don’t let yourselves be manipulated” by biased information, pre-digested by the media. However, he kept the visual aspect of the newspapers, the “page layout” that identifies them as such and which, like the stamp, grants them a value of truth or, at least, reliability. The topic of representation is always present in Zabala’s work and, in this case, the transformation of news into mere visual signs brings Guattari’s ecology back on the table.

Guattari points out: “Post-industrial capitalism, which I prefer to describe as Integrated World Capitalism (IWC), tends increasingly to decentre its sites of power, moving away from structures producing goods and services towards structures producing signs, syntax and, in particular through the control which it exercises over the media, advertising, opinion polls, etc., subjectivity.”[14]

As if he were replying to these ideas, Zabala traced with mocking and fun spirits, one by one, the visual configuration, shape and light quality value of the numbers of the Geneva a Paris stock exchanges’ information, the cinematographic spectacles with their sparkling Hollywood stars on the Italian press, or political and crime news in other European newspapers. Signs and more signs of unquestionable beauty on these copies on tracing paper of newspapers create metaphors of the “stupefying and infantilizing consensus”[15] of contemporary mass media. Original and duplicate, one next to the other, allow us to see what it is and what it seems, an open metaphor—at times unresolved—, that is fruit of an imagination that is tensed by the excesses of the constant densification of stimuli to all imaginable consumption.

Soon before these disheartened reflections, still in Buenos Aires, Zabala obturated an article from a local newspaper dated March 2nd, 1976. Un pronóstico sombrío (A Bleak Prognosis) lies on the page of a newspaper from merely 24 days before the military coup that overthrew Isabel Martínez de Perón and indeed instated more bleak years. Paradoxically, the work takes the name of a visible part of the newspaper where there is mention of the severe economic crisis that the country was suffering in those days, corroborated by the big front-page headline. A black monochrome covers what we presume is the political piece of news that, days later, we know will bring forward the catastrophe. Zabala does not sign the work with an exact date; he tricks the reader into wondering whether it is a certainty or an intuition. In any case, he is implying that chronology is a mere objective record of a reality that is impossible to conceal. His ethical/aesthetic concern was to point to the complicity between the media and the establishment that has the power at the time, the operation to overlap, cover up information and, thus, eventually, put a stop to every possible revolt. Without a doubt, these newspapers are a portion of our recent history which, mediated by the press regardless of ideology, Zabala works to reveal: show its setbacks, its fissures, read the space between the lines.

Regarding the intervention on the newspapers, Perniola asked himself in 1991: Does anything positive come about from this conceptual operation? Something like a reestablishment, a regeneration of art?[16] These inquiries that the philosopher thought could not be answered at the time are precisely the ones that Argentine artists made during the 90s. Can we influence social processes, give art the role of agent? Some answered no and took delight in ironically—or not really—showing the conditions of postmodernity and the dominant neoliberalism. Others contributed to a not-so-joyous revival of the political art from the 60s and 70s. Both groups have in common that they were intellectually led by the artists of those generations, who acted as “gurus” for the younger ones waiting to have their moment. Horacio Zabala, since his return from Europe, has been one of those leaders whose poetics tune in to criticism, to reflection, wherever it manifests itself. It is not by chance that his work has been giving us food for thought and speaking to us for over five decades.

María José Herrera

Buenos Aires, May 2022

[1] A une sérénité crispée (1951) is the title of a book by French poet René Char (1907-1988). For several works throughout his career, Zabala has used titles of other people’s books in which he finds a poetic resonance with his own work.

[2] Luigi Pareyson, Estetica. Teoria della formatività, Torino, Edizioni di «Filosofia», 1954.

[3] Horacio Zabala. Anteproyectos, catalogue, Bs. As., CAYC, 1973.

[4] Group founded at the heart of the CAYC, integrated by Jacques Bedel, Luis Benedit, Gregorio Dujovny, Jorge Glusberg, Carlos Ginzburg, Víctor Grippo, Jorge González Mir, Vicente Marotta, Luis Pazos, Alfredo Portillos, Juan Carlos Romero, Julio Teich and Horacio Zabala.

[5] Félix Guattari, Las tres ecologías, Valencia, Pre-Textos, 2ª. 1996 [1989]. Translated fragments from: https://monoskop.org/images/4/44/Guattari_Felix_The_Three_Ecologies.pdf

[6] Systems Aesthetics is a proposal by Jack Burnham from 1968, published in the magazine Artforum. Although Glusberg was inspired by these concepts, Argentine arte de sistemas is a broader category, which includes different poetics and is not equivalent to American Systems Arts.

[7] Vigo was not part of the Grupo de los 13, but he did participate in CAYC’s exhibitions before and after the group was founded.

[8] “Draft project for the design of a trip / conceiving the deformation of Argentinian territory / the design of a shantytown / the alteration of a chess set / a prison architecture / a playful and ideological monument / the design of garbage / the design of food / copying the Berlin Wall / redefining Latin America / the design of an antistructure / an act of freedom / the design of a soup kitchen / the destruction of a vegetal, an animal and a mineral.”

[9] An historical example of this practice is Etienne Boullée’s Cenotaph for Newton, from the late XVIII century, considered a key project for modern architecture.

[10] Landscape art that consists of clipping or training shrubs into geometric shapes or figures.

[11] Ornament und Verbrechen (Ornament and Crime) is a 1910 conference, published in 1913, in which Adolf Loos, a modernist architect, criticizes the use of ornamental elements in utilitarian objects.

[12] “The grid shaped memorial has 2,711 concrete slabs of various heights, all placed near each other, creating numerous passageways where visitors can walk around and enter and exit the Memorial from anywhere, [like a labyrinth].” It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. https://www.introducingberlin.com/memorial-murdered-jews-of-europe?_ga=2.258531458.904485083.1654036960-1794768168.1654036960

[13] See, in this catalogue, the text by Mario Perniola.

[14] Guattari, op. cit. p. 41/42. (Translation, op. cit. p. 47)

[15] Ibidem. (Translation: ibidem, p. 50)

[16] Perniola, ibidem.


MCMC gallery presents the first exhibition of 2022 in its new space. Neurocisne is a collective exhibition that brings together a group made up with some of the most important Argentine artists of recent years with other well-known artists on the current scene, never before united in the same room. The works of Diana Aisenberg, Elba Bairon, Azul Caverna, Martha Boto, Nicolás García Uriburu, Chelsea Culprit, Edgardo Giménez, Vicente Grondona, Alejandro Kuropatwa, Alejo Musich, Alita Olivari, Kazuya Sakai, Verónica Romano and Nahuel Vecino explore in this exhibition the manifestations of the symbolism of the swan and its surrounding world throughout the history of art.

Curator and text: Solana Tixi
Sound design: Federico Cabral
Sound installation: Guillermo Mozian
Graphic Design: Javier Auguste
Acknowledgements: Vasari Gallery, Revolver Gallery, Aldo de Souda, Smart Gallery.

POP, abstraction & minimalism

MCMC Galería is pleased to present “POP, Abstraction and Minimalism” a group show that gathers the artworks of different Argentine artists: Miguel Angel Vidal, Ary Brizzi, César Paternosto, Antonio Asís, Rogelio Polesello, Eduardo Costa, Edgardo Giménez, María Boneo and Azul Caverna.

The exhibition proposes to relate and explore different artistic languages ​​such as Pop-art, Geometric Abstraction, Minimalism and Conceptualism, from the 60s to the present.

The corpus of works exhibited is intertwined in an agonizing and antagonistic discourse, where colors and shapes attract and repel to each other. It is in this way that Edgardo Giménez’s Pop animals coexist, together with the rhythmic minimalism of César Paternosto and in turn, Polesello’s colorful play on his geometric abstractions.

“Pop, Abstraction and Minimalism” combines and juxtaposes the discourse of Argentine artists representing the main artistic trends of the 60s and 70s, and today.

Miguel Ángel Vidal (1928 – 2009) was an Argentine painter, draftsman and graphic designer. He investigated naturalism and studied the line as an expression. Over time, his expressive needs led him to investigate Abstraction and Geometry. In 1959 he founded, together with Eduardo Mac Entyre, the Generative Art Movement of Buenos Aires.

Ary Brizzi (1930 – 2014) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina; he developed a career as a painter, sculptor, and designer; and refrente of geometric abstraction in Argentina. In his works, the concepts of “visual reality” and “plastic reality” were upheld by Brizzi, who did not speak of geometry or abstraction, but of “concrete forms”, as the Bauhaus constructivists would call them.

César Paternosto (1931) was born in La Plata, Argentina. Reference artist of geometric abstraction in Argentina. In 1969 Paternosto began a series of works where at first glance the front of the work, white and uniform, did not reveal an image. The geometric artist began to paint on the wide edges of the frame. Paternosto’s color planes appear and disappear as the traveler or viewer walks.

Antonio Asis (1932 – 2019) Argentine artist, exponent of the op-art. Throughout the 1940s, Asis explored abstraction and nonrepresentative art; with the publication of the “Arturo” magazine in 1944, and the creation of the Concrete Art-Invention Association. In 1956 he moved to Paris where he began a series of works in which he considered how the phenomena of light could be mediated through photography. His work is characterized by studying the vibrations between colors and the many possibilities within monochromatic compositions.

Rogelio Polesello (1939-2014) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Painter and sculptor, he presented his first solo exhibition in 1959 at the Peuser gallery where his admiration for Víctor Vasarely was manifested. Shortly after, his geometry obtained references to the New Abstraction with resources from optical artists, such as the offset of geometric shapes, with which it produced a strong effect of instability. He worked with painting, engraving and acrylic objects capable of generating optical effects that decompose the image.

Eduardo Costa (1940, Buenos Aires) is an Argentine artist who lived twenty-five years in the United States and four in Brazil. He began his career in Buenos Aires as part of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella generation and continued to work in New York, where he made a strong contribution to the local avant-garde. He has collaborated with American artists such as Vito Acconci, Scott Burton, John Perreault, and Hannah Weiner, among others. In Brazil, he participated in projects organized by Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Antonio Manuel, Lygia Clark and others from the Rio de Janeiro school.

Edgardo Giménez (1942) was born in Santa Fe, Argentina. A self-taught artist, he began working in advertising graphics. He is one of the greatest representatives of Pop art in Argentina. He was part of the mythical Instituto di Tella during the 60s and 70s. His works celebrate color and joy.

María Boneo (1959) is an Argentine sculptor who lives in Buenos Aires. Her work knew how to be figurative, today more inclined to abstraction, in it,it is still possible to trace the memory of the female body in the meticulous program of deformity purification to which her sculptures were subjected. Boneo worked with different materials, from early wood carving, to marble carving, and now bronze.

Azul Caverna (1979) his work reviews geometric artistic movements and traditions to investigate the ascetic use of form and color. He intuitively seeks to understand what is the function of a current geometric language and what is the influence of contemporary personal avant-gardes, in a discipline historically influenced by group movements.

Silvia Torras – Youth & Joy

MCMC gallery is pleased to announce Silvia Torras’ solo exhibition, titled Youth and joy; a joy that is not silly exuberance, but true joy, with a text by Florencia Qualina.

The Informalist movement that dominated the scene in Buenos Aires between the late 1950s and the first half of the 1960s was led by a group of young people with a revolutionary hunger. They shared a visceral rejection of the dominant art that they considered dull, predictable, boring; they wanted a new art founded on the collapse of Good Taste. The abstract painting that was born from there, made of fast brushstrokes loaded with matter, often embedded with something abject about the world and the body – urine, blood, rubbish – took over the galleries of the city with the same dizzying pace.

It didn’t take long for the excitement to fade. They perceived that the force had been absorbed into the official system; or that Painting had exhausted its life cycle – towards the mid-60s the center of the aesthetic debate was dominated by the statement: Painting is Dead – these were two perspectives that digested the adventures towards new experimental paths. Pop, Conceptualism, Happenings, were the names under which new forms were illuminated for a time that required and obtained energetic, constant, volcanic renovations.

When the movement had dissipated Kenneth Kemble and Alberto Greco, the great agitators, had managed to settle on the main stage of The Great Ruptures and these cuts signified the great capital of art history. Other names would be inseparable from Pop, action art, settings or land-art and its passage through Informalism would be established as a baptism in modern grammar. Numerous valuable interventions were left behind, unexplored, semi-forgotten: a large part of them correspond to the women of Informalism. At this point the work of Silvia Torras is introduced.

In the first three years of the sixties Silvia Torras, in addition to being part of the foundational collective experiences for the future of installation and Conceptualism, such as Destructive Art – 61’– and Man before Man –62’– produced a powerful volume of paintings. Some of them were seen in the individual exhibitions that she had in the Peuser Gallery – 60 ‘- and in the Lirolay Gallery –61 -, or in prestigious awards, such as the Di Tella and Ver y Estimar in 1963. In that year she definitely closed her artistic career, her life in Buenos Aires and her marriage to Kemble. She died in 1970, at the age of 34, in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The temptation to foresee a truncated journey when noticing such a young death vanishes when knowing her intense and extensive work: for Silvia Torras, time in art was enough to leave a work in which pathos and ornamentation converge. Unlike the informalist commonplace so moderate, harsh in the use of color, she is distinguished by taking it as an emblem: yellows, blues, greens, reds vibrate like jungles or lava storms. The dramatic sense of her painting has very high points, overwhelming when it is directed to huge canvases – another singularity of hers at a time that reserved contained formats, not too large for women and thus moderated its ambitions – however, it does not give up when reduced. Going back to Silvia Torras’ work is essential to continue spinning a diverse art history, also made up of forgetfulness, fragments and untimely appearances.

Florencia Qualina

Marzo, 2021

Ary Brizzi – Visual thinking

The MCMC gallery is pleased to announce the individual exhibition of Ary Brizzi, entitled Visual Thinking with the curatorship of María José Herrera.

For those who chose a background in drawing and decorative painting, the case of Ary Brizzi, geometry was never a mere “ornament” but a reason for study for the composition and correct historical interpretation of the subject to be illustrated. His student notebooks with expressive sketches, detailed plates with drawings of capitals, friezes and architectures show how early he became familiar with the codes of a non-naturalistic image. The concept of painting as a “unique fact”, that is to say autonomous, independent of representation, had been proposed by the specific avant-gardes of the 1920s and 1940s. With these premises well understood and ready to expand them, a third generation of geometric – Among which is Brizzi-, the neo-concretes, he pointed out new directions: those of light and movement.

Once received at the High School, Brizzi took six years to study everything he felt the school had not given him. The intuition that geometric art would be its mature form of expression led the artist to form through reading with those authors and teachers who theorized about the beginnings of abstraction in the twentieth century. Between 1952 and 1957, Brizzi carried out daily studies, in which he put into practice all the conceptual baggage of the different trends in geometry and constructivism that he had analyzed. Shocked by Max Bill’s visual developments, he continued his trend towards an art that, as defined by the Swiss artist, is governed by mathematics, “one of the most efficient means for the knowledge of objective reality [and] at the same time , science of relationships, of behavior from thing to thing, from group to group, from movement to movement. And since mathematics contains these fundamental principles and relates them to each other, it is natural that such events can be presented, this is transformed into visual reality ”.

Indeed, the concepts of “visual reality” and “plastic reality” were supported by Brizzi, who did not speak of geometry or abstraction but of “concrete forms”, as the Bauhaus constructivists called them. The concrete form does not depend on mimesis or allegories. Thus, his color and composition studies based on the laws of vision develop a vast repertoire of forms created through the application of the seriation method. That is, each exercise that belongs to a thematic series has color or position variations of its elements until it shows that condition that contemporary physics spoke of: matter is energy and space its infinite field of action. Attractions and repulsions, colors that advance or recede, and time as a necessary participant in these movements were some of the pictorial themes where art and science met once again.

Many of the cardboard tempera presented today were never exhibited. We know some of them because from being sketches they became paintings. Others because they appealed to us from the exquisite graphics of various products of the industry and culture of the time. But most of them are unpublished. Jealously preserved by the artist, its quality of completion and the date with day, month and year tells us that more than sketches they are the evidence of a true “visual thinking” that Brizzi sought to retain to understand the logic of his creativity, as well as to use it as a “in reserve” repertoire.

“Art is the force and the unrepeatable beauty of transformed matter,” wrote Brizzi, and he devoted himself to this task for more than sixty years, vibrating, transforming, lines, lights and colors before our own eyes.

María José Herrera