Las noches blancas

Artists: Roberto Aizenberg, Juan Battle Planas, Marcelo Canevari, Aída Carballo, Cynthia Cohen, Sandra Guascone, Misterio Tarot (Geraldine Lanteri y Aldo Benítez), Ornella Pocetti, Xul Solar, Osias Yanov y Rosario Zorraquin.

Curator: Lara Marmor

De noche el fuego nos ilumina (1971), Los límites del sueño (1970) y Quieto diálogo del insomnio (1968) by Juana Butler (1928-2017) lead us to a universe in which everything underlies, where the unconscious glimmers, revelations take place and the occult shines. Butler opens the doors of the surreal, mystical and ecstatic night.

On the surface of his paintings can be seen the active work of the thin layer of oil that simultaneously darkens and brightens the original pigments. Butler made use of the power of the mental emancipation of surrealism and also, when painting, he knew how to go through different states of consciousness from the alteration produced by the practice of meditation.

The works of the group of artists that today give life to Las noches blancas take us away from the limits of reason. Without psychic or moral repression, they bring us closer to the encounter with productions filled with enjoyment, dance, stimulation, multisensoriality and epiphanic discoveries that rise up at night. El llamado de la noche (2024) by Marcelo Canevari, together with Las edades (2024) by Ornella Pocetti, are timeless paintings, or instead they seem to have the indeterminate temporality of dreams. The meticulous contemplation of nature and also the collection of visual information from the Internet are some of the sources that give rise to these productions, where the shift between fiction and reality is brutal. In her works, the human figure is the main character, and in his, the landscape is usually the protagonist. The painting of both, indistinctly, condenses high doses of enchantment and mystery, enchantment and sensuality. At night for Cynthia Cohen, hallucinations are real. Vivac and Vivac #2 (2023) represent the moment when the artist participates in the opening of portals in northern Argentina. A few months later, near the Antarctic end of the Earth, in Chubut, Cohen picks up a bunch of stones. It is said that Quartz cleanses impurities and that Ruby represents the strength of passion. What could be the therapeutic quality of a black faceted stone that looks like a constellation? Sandra Guascone moves with fluidity between the fields of astronomy, chemistry and biology; between life and death; light and shadow; living and non-living matter. To materialize his drawings, like Cohen, she enters into a state of sensory openness in which he receives messages, allowing herself to be traversed by that elusive thing called energy. Thus her powerful and magnetic assemblages of insects, astral matter, vegetables and animals are born.

Between 2012 and 2021, Rosario Zorraquín made a series of drawings from which she created a new alphabet based on an automatic graph. These symbols were later carved in Braille to be perceived in sessions where the guests had to decode the signs with their impressions, while the painter, medium and explorer

of matter, translated them into new paintings. Osias Yanov’s artistic practice is also crossed by the creation or resignification of symbols, many of them taken from Xul Solar (recognized by Yanov as the first cuir artist producer of languages). Desire, esotericism and collective care are some of the keys to his artistic practice made up of objects, gatherings, parties and performances.

Corazón de madera (2022) and Mitominas (2023) are assemblages where autobiographical elements are related to historical ones and in which sexual toys coexist, resignified objects such as the spoon that, against the techno-heroic imaginary of the knife or the sword, is a tool that does not prick or cut, but contains and moves.

White nights are repeated at each summer solstice in the regions near the poles. They are clear and luminous. The twilights are eternal and in them the glow intertwines with the twilight. I imagine that the music accompanying this phenomenon is that of The Poem of Ecstasy, the composition by Aleksandr Scriabin (1872-1915) about which Henry Miller wrote: It has that distant cosmic itch. Divinely fouled. All fire and air. The first time I heard it I played it over and over again (…) It was like a bath of ice, cocaine and rainbows. For weeks I was in a trance. Something had happened to me (…) Every time a thought took hold of me, a little door opened inside my chest, and there, in this comfortable little nest, sat a bird, the sweetest and tamest bird imaginable. Our own white nights also have their own music. Misterio Tarot, the duo formed by Geraldine Lanteri and Aldo Benítez, made the sound design of the room based on the personal arcana of Juana Butler, Xul Solar, Juan Batlle Planas, Roberto Aizenberg and Aída Carballo. Perhaps the visible is overrated, suggest Lanteri & Benítez, who sought the syntonic tone of our southern nights to let in the invisible, other ways of being, opening the threshold to new senses.

A community of origin

Since the late 1960s, Nicolás García Uriburu and Luis Fernando Benedit, artists that MC Galería brings together in this exhibition, addressed with their works a concern for nature, bringing art and ecology together in a pioneering way, with the intervention or incorporation of natural elements in their productions. Their trajectories have a common origin: they met while studying architecture at the University of Buenos Aires, became friends and developed their artistic practice in a self-taught way parallel to their university education. Both took their first steps in the artistic field with painting at the beginning of the sixties, a decade marked by political ups and downs, by censorship, but also by radical ruptures in art. It is possible to find between them an affinity of thought that expanded, from a shared disciplinary root to an artistic exploration with new media and supports, alien until then to the field of art, to investigate in an ecological and ethological problem that will distinguish them from then on.

The word ecology, from the Greek Oekologie, has its root in the term Oikos, which refers to the house, the habitat, the environment where organisms develop. In this conception, the house cannot be reduced to a building construction, but encompasses a whole territory, its vegetation, the other beings that inhabit it and allow its existence. “This complex integrality is what the science of ecology is all about,” says biologist Marcela Castelo. This shift seems to have operated in both artists, from a concern for habitable spaces for human beings to a consideration of the planet as the common home of all species.

The environmental concern that can be found in their works has both a planetary imprint and a local root. Together they undertook, around 1961, a trip to Peru that was decisive in the development of a thinking committed to the cultural history of the Latin American continent, which was later manifested in their productions. In the case of Uriburu, it was expressed in his permanent defense of the continent as a natural reservoir of the planet, denouncing the depredation of the hegemonic powers. In both of them there persists a work with the rural imaginary and the tradition of the Argentine landscape, especially of the Pampean plains. In García Uriburu’s work this can be seen from his early paintings to his series dedicated to ombúes and bulls; in Benedit’s work it is revealed through references to Argentine history, to traveling painters or the painting of Florencio Molina Campos, as well as to the design of furniture with cow bones and hides. Marcelo Pacheco described the latter as the most criollo of Argentine artists, a category that, far from a stereotyped or universalist expression, manifests a force capable of “phagocytizing what is proper and what is foreign, what is learned and what is inherited, what is national and what is international”, a phagocytic force that can be traced in national essay writing, from Ezequiel Martinez de Estrada to Rodolfo Kusch, some of them frequented, at least theoretically, by Benedit.

With these concerns for the future of the planet, towards the end of the 1960s the works of both artists acquired international visibility, both for the material radicality of their proposals and for the conceptual development under the orbit of what Jack Burnham called “systems art”. This denomination, conceived by Burnham in an article published in September 1968 in Artforum magazine, soon had an impact on the local artistic field, particularly in the figure of Jorge Glusberg, who from the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC) promoted the production of experimental works of a conceptual nature through this category. Benedit had an active participation in this center, being part of its board of directors and integrating the Group of Thirteen that emerged from it. Uriburu, installed abroad during those years, had a more peripheral participation, but he exhibited in many of its shows and his links with the center were fundamental for him to develop the coloring of the Río de la Plata in 1970, a process that had begun a few years earlier.

In 1968 he made his first coloring by pouring thirty kilos of flourescein, a harmless dye, over the Grand Canal of Venice, with which he dyed its waters green. In a Europe still convulsed by the recent events of the French May, which impacted in deep criticism towards the Venice Biennale about to inaugurate its 34th edition, Uriburu, in an anti-institutional gesture, intervened directly on the real space with an ephemeral action that exceeded the traditional practices of art. This action, which attracted the attention of the press and even caused him to be arrested by the police, marked a turning point in his career: he oriented his production towards the environmental issue and began a series of colorations that he carried out all over the world.

Meanwhile his fellow student, Benedit, traveled on a scholarship to Rome in 1967 to study landscape architecture with Francesco Fariello. Driven by the knowledge of botany and biology acquired there, and with the advice of ethologist José Núñez, he developed Biotrón, one of his most paradigmatic works, which he presented in 1970 at the XXXV Venice Biennale, just two years after García Uriburu’s first coloration in the same city. It consisted of a large aluminum and transparent Plexiglas structure with artificial plants inside, to be inhabited by four thousand bees, which could either collect pollen from the technological flowers or go outside. In addition to this work, Benedit presented Minibiotron, a transparent acrylic piece for insects or arachnids to inhabit, which allowed them to be observed closely through a magnifying glass. These habitable proposals for living beings, as well as the work Fitotrón, a closed environment for the hydroponic cultivation of plants that was exhibited in 1972 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, together with the labyrinths and circuits that he developed in those years, are based on his interest in the study of animal and plant behavior, as well as the express link between science and art, which puts into discussion the disciplinary limits and the traditional conception of the figure of the author.

Both Uriburu’s colorations and Benedit’s large habitable installations show a projectual aspect in their work methods, -undoubtedly supported by their architectural training- consistent with the difficulties of realization, both in budgetary terms and in terms of the need to carry out interdisciplinary research. This is evident in the development of schemes and project drawings, especially in Benedit, essential for planning technical aspects, as can be seen in the drawings presented here, Proyecto múltiple – Mini Biotron (1971) and Proyecto múltiple – Pecera para peces tropicales, ( 1971). Other drawings, which did not necessarily go beyond their apparent project aspect and where Benedit leans towards a more pictorial elaboration, represent mechanically articulated animals that display in detail the different elements that compose them, as is the case of Proyecto para una langosta articulada ( 1974) and Fernando Rufus – Vulgar “Hornero” (1976). Here, the natural-artificial relationship is revealed, but rather than as an opposition between nature and culture or nature and art, it appears as a joint collaboration where the technical artifice acts in favor of nature, being able to give a technological response to a planetary crisis caused by anthropic impact.

Prototypes for an artificial garden at the Iris Clert gallery in Paris a few weeks before his first coloring. Still focused on the production of objects, he presented a group of works on cut acrylic plates linked to the natural world, cats and lambs, clouds and waterfalls, which made up a plastic garden in a pop setting. Already at that time, animals acquired a prominent place in García Uriburu’s work, which was later sustained by the representation of anacondas from the Amazon, giraffes in danger of extinction, oiled penguins, anteaters and vicuñas, dolphins and cows. Uriburu found in animals one of the most outstanding manifestations of nature, which he contrasted with famous New York City skyscrapers and constructions, such as a giraffe in front of the Pan Am mirrored tower or the head of a cow next to the Twin Towers. In this way, the artist denounced the binary opposition between nature and culture, a modern operation that, as Bruno Latour affirms, hierarchizes humanity above all living things, reducing them to mere resources to be exploited. In this sense, the city, the ultimate expression of the modern domination of the human, is represented in García Uriburu’s paintings in contrast with natural elements, and he also chooses for his colorations waters located in urban spaces, denouncing the destructive action of Man on them.

The work of both artists expresses this relationship, not necessarily oppositional, between nature and culture. The concern that both seem to show for animals, both for the local ones with their rural traditions and gaucho traces, as well as those of manifest precariousness and whose continuity as a species is in danger, allow us to think -from Benedit and García Uriburu, but also beyond them- of belonging to a community more than human, whose motivation is a concern for the habitat of all beings on the planet, that community that Latour calls “earthlings”. Recently María Puig de la Bellacasa stressed that the ecological “understood as the interdependent interaction between multiple forms of life, is collective by definition”, which leads not only to strengthen particular searches and knowledge, such as the proposals to merge life and art observed in García Uriburu, but also to an ethological concern, of the type developed by Benedit, which does not stop at the observation and investigation of animal behavior, but leads to an improvement in the life capacity of the whole, human and non-human. In this sense, an ecological formulation such as the one that can be observed in these works, but which – again – goes beyond them, also demands a strong ethical commitment.

Jesu Antuña y Mercedes Claus

Realidades sonoras y ficciones visuales

Eduardo Costa: 1966-today

Professor of letters, editor, proto-conceptualist (Alberro, 2001), genre creator (Herrera, 2008), sound poet, fashion novelist, journalist, essayist, volumetric painter are some of the titles Eduardo Costa has been defined with throughout his career: Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and New York, from 1966 to the present.

Tireless in his search for new paths in art, this admirer of Duchamp has the ability to find his artistic materialities in the unthinkable: a few stolen dialogues in the street to create the first oral literature, a fictional happening for a mass media art, a fake and unreachable gold accessory to infiltrate the mass media of fashion, semen itself as organic acrylic and acrylic as sculptural clay to expand the possibilities of painting.

Sound realisms and visual fictions. Eduardo Costa: 1966-hoy proposes a non-linear journey through the artist’s career in the gallery’s three rooms, using as reference points three events that took place in three spaces that are as emblematic as they are disparate: an iconic fashion magazine, a traditional fine arts museum, and a legendary rock record.

Anatomy lesson

“Don’t suffer, don’t suffer, it’s only fiction!”, Eduardo Costa requested to an audience that alternated between surprise and astonishment at the dissection of each of the works and the subsequent exhibition of their entrails. Presented on November 22, 2004 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, La biología de la pintura n.° 2: La lección de anatomía was a didactic performance conceived to explain the invisible in the works belonging to a new genre developed by Costa since 1994: volumetric painting. Referred to by the American critic and poet Carter Ratcliff, volumetric paintings are composed not only of external surfaces but also of internal spaces. A volumetric painting of a watermelon is green on the outside, white and red on the inside. A head portrait contains both the organs, muscles and bones, invisible to the viewer, as well as the visible features traditionally manifested in flat painting or sculpture. Geometric abstractions are usually pure monochrome, painted in the same color from beginning to end. Without any other materiality than acrylic pigment and an occasional thickener, volumes are obtained by adding layer upon layer. The volumetric paintings free themselves from the traditional material supports of painting and sculpture to support themselves in each brushstroke with the aesthetics of modernism and the historical avant-garde. Thus, the pigments dissolve, thicken and solidify when mixed with constructivist, neoplasticist, concrete, perceptualist, minimalist or “pop” molecules. “For the (volumetric) paintings are the result of a wide range of concepts and legacies whose complex synthesis provides insight into how modernist paintings can be productively reformulated in the 21st century” (Alberro, 2001).

Of visual fictions and sonorous realisms

“The most exciting thing I’ve seen in recent years” proclaimed Alexander Liberman, art editor of American Vogue magazine between 1941 and 1962, after his meeting with Costa thanks to the intermediation of gallery owner Leo Castelli. On February 1, 1968, a strange accessory was published in its pages: Oreja. Photographed and commented by Richard Avedon and modeled by Marisa Berenson, granddaughter of surrealist fashion icon Elsa Schiaparelli and renowned art critic Bernard Berenson. Made in gold on the mold taken from Argentine model María Larreta in 1966, this object is part of Fashion Fiction I, along with other jewelry in the form of phalanges and hair. Costa was trying to broaden its audience, reaching out to the fashion mass media with a strategy that included fictionalizing a luxury product as well as making use of the visual and written languages characteristic of these publications. In the months following its print appearance, the object would be transformed into several real jewels at the request of a group of the magazine’s readers.  Oreja is a bottle launched into the sea of media that has been and continues to be a reference and source of inspiration. In fashion, Gucci and its creative director, Alessandro Michele, will produce a ready-to-wear version in 2019, which was also featured in Harper’s Bazaar magazine on Serena Williams’ ear, shot by Alexi Lubomirski. Also, in the field of art, several artists have cited it as is the case of the work Untitled, 2021 photograph by La Chola Poblete where the artist adopts the same position and framing of Berenson’s photo and replaces the materiality of gold with that of bread; with this operation “the prosthetic jewel acquires its luxury character, not from the shine of the metal, but from the homey warmth of bread” (Martínez Depietri, 2021).

At the same time, Costa continued to explore oral language, ethnographic realism, sound and the possibilities of the stereophonic recorder in his search for new materialities and media. This path had taken shape for the first time in 1966 in the project Poema ilustrado for the exhibition El Poema y su sombrura, curated by Mercedes Álvarez Reynolds at the Galería de Arte Joven de Radio Municipal; finding in this oral ready-made an objective and external memory to the artist who surpassed photography in her ability to achieve greater realism, inaugurating another new genre: oral literature. In 1969, together with artist John Perreault, a tape that includes the work of fifteen artists and poets from Latin America and the United States, accompanied by a manifesto written by both of them. For the authors, “the works exist entirely in terms of auditory phenomena, rather than in terms of visual sign systems, thus beginning a new art of the tape recorder that has in common with written literature the fact that it refers to real language” (Costa-Perreault, 1969). “While Oreja had materialized the anatomy of sound reception-the aural with the auditory-Tape Poems focused on the material storage of sound outside the body” (McEnaney, 2016).

For Costa, oral language is an immersed historical ocean in which he will remain diving throughout his career. The appearance of an ear made of gold can be read as a tribute to the human organ that receives and decodes this ancestral expression of culture, an auricular-auric-auratic object.

A honeymoon in the hand

“I want you to write a lyric for Virus – did you think it would be about any particular issue? Yes, about masturbation”. On October 25, 1985 the album Locura is released, the fifth studio work of the group Virus, the most successful of the band in sales and the favorite of its leader Federico Moura.  Costa is the author of the lyrics of Una luna de miel en la mano. Inspired by the fictional play Everyman His Own Wife Or, A Honeymoon in the Hand: A National Immorality in Three Orgasms imagined by Buck Mulligan’s character in James Joyce’s most famous work Ulysses. Some works made at different stages in Costa’s production contain the male body as a theme or as a source of plastic material. With an ambiguous, delicate and poetic sexual charge, these works resort to the torso, genitals and semen to try out new genres in art. A soft and sinuous rectangle next to an erect cylinder constitute a pornogeometric painting, the ejaculations are gestures of an orgasmic informalism on the canvas, the perforations on the stretcher bars resemble spatialism à la Fontana. Under the light of a honey-colored acrylic moon, a hand holding a cucumber, a roll of toilet paper and a small notebook with a poem written by Costa in his adolescence, compose an intimate still life captured minutes before self-satisfaction, a moment mori that foreshadows the petit morte.

Joaquín Rodríguez

Buenos Aires, October 11, 2023


This exhibition by Cynthia Cohen shows the current state of her perception of the world and the way she understands life and art today. Each painting is an exploration of perceptions that allow her to project internal dynamics outwards. A creative process related to Batlle Planas “inner model” and the free associations of automatism, but with a very different pictorial resolution. It is a shift from consumer pop to metaphysical pop, with elements of camp and surrealism in its use of extravagance, humor and absurdity. As Susan Sontag defines it, Camp is “a sensibility; it is not an idea or a style, but a way of seeing the world”.

The stories are built around situations and images that point her in this new direction. It unites, in a contradictory way, different elements that provoke alienation.  The artist is the one who points, who expands the possibilities of the cosmos with new articulations of the real, understanding that the real is also what is hidden and sometimes unhidden. This is what happens in “accept the thoughts that arise”, where the artist constructs a work in which an infinite number of fascinating scenes and thoughts are superimposed, with no apparent logical structure, as happens when we meditate.  There are fragments of an antique French Aubusson tapestry, pieces of sashimi, fish, skies, a cornucopia and iron bars.

The hands point and at the same time create paradoxical worlds, as in the scene of the painting “Amazonita”, where an emerald is floating above a mass of green against a mountain landscape.  It is the signalling of contradiction, where the absurd is the basis for the production of pictorial discourse.  Throughout the Renaissance we find hands with the index finger pointing towards what seems to be the interpretation of the riddle. A secret to be revealed in each story.

We feel the latency of eroticism in tongues coming out of a wallpaper where red prevails in “Libertine”, an installation with digital recreations projected on the walls of the gallery hall.

In “Azurita”, the sensuality of taste is embodied by a tongue licking a creamy cherry, and the senses are heightened to the extreme by the rare beauty of a huge blue stone floating above the landscape.

The stones that Cynthia used in her first exhibition, when she painted them in groups as gems set in rings, are back. At that time, the context was linked to a reflection on economic power as an allusion to the tyranny of the patriarchal institution. These first rings later became enormous protagonists, with perfectly painted jewels of extreme rigour in the faceting and brilliance of each one.

Today, the rocks are structured in an expressive way, far removed from the precision of those days. Now they are part of a crystalline journey in which he has found another goal in his identity as an artist. The conviction that the work activates something ineffable, something that has no name because there is no word to describe it.  He places himself in the line of poets and mystics who have sought to bear witness to transcendent experiences.

That is why we cannot rationally understand what is happening in these works, but we must enter into these dwellings proposed by the artist. The history of art has repeatedly tried to manifest the metaphysical dimension, as in the works of Hilma af Klint, Malevich or the Argentinean Xul Solar, among many others.

What makes Cynthia’s work so original is that she materialises these ideas with a contemporary approach, mixing brightly coloured objects against the backdrop of the Argentinean landscape. She also draws on her own history. She reappropriates her artistic autobiography with new meanings.

When she painted flowers, as in jewellery, his “Roses” suggested the success of the perfect appearance, open in its maximum splendour. Today, the flower in his painting “A Wish” has fallen petals, is almost withered and is the only work that, instead of floating, has to be held up. She shamelessly exposes the fall and the melancholic register of the final stage.

Endings, like farewells, are encounters. I celebrate this encounter of a new direction in Cynthia Cohen’s work. It was there from the beginning, but today she has been able to manifest it. I think of the story of the English pilot who, having miscalculated his course, discovered England under the impression that it was an unknown island in the South Sea. And when he planted the flag, he had finally arrived in his own country.

Cynthia discovered in Cruz Chica the key that opened the portal to a new meaning. A belief in art as a transcendent and spiritual revelation.

Laura Batkis



The art of the passage to contemporary art

Marcelo E. Pacheco

Informalism, thresholds, stitching, decollage, other art, driping, are different semblances that enter on a base of paint in superimposed layers of remains of materials, also, drips of different materials such as oil, tempera, collage different from the one that had been given as wire to make the piece: floor rags, rags grids, mixtures of different types of wood, sometimes some cardboard, cardboard and all material, mixed with frames of them.  The base is always complete with very outstanding collage temperatures, reaching different kinds of assemblage.

There are different titles for variations and regional schools that show different typologies: informalism, tachism, collage and decollage, and as long as one chooses the superimpositions of materials. The two extremes are abstract expressionism, pure solidity and dualities of oil, working in layers of brushstrokes that burst in different hardness and subtlety, as in the works of Del Prete or Pucciarelli and, in tachismo or informalism that works with traces, marks, stamp, executive transparency, of all kinds of things. The two extremes play with the range of the material that moves away or gets closer and closer to the specific weight and the network of the real.

At the other point of the space appear the abstract or non-figurative with collage as a base and hyper-abundant collage stickers that finally explodes in the assemblages. The first occurs more fully in the New York School culminating with Pollock and locally with Greco and Del Prete. The second occurs with less traversed collage, being protagonist rags grids, floor rags, draped, as Towas, Peluffo, Kemble, Lublin.

With several cast manipulations, different variants with Creole personality are grouped together, making the pieces divided in the graphics and draperies and in the fabrics worked with the tips of the handles of the brushes or their coats.

A special note is the group of works by the Uruguayan Teresa Vila with her semi-abstract paintings. In the territory the games between the freedom of non-figuration and the freedom of non-abstractions.

From informalism to concrete art and kinetic and optical art, different virtual visual forms or boxes with their own supports follow each other.

The total filling of the surface reaches the maximum, even the frames, and they choose multiple bases, the infinitude of choices as a basis for their stories that are non-figurative. The current exhibition is a very good example of diversity.

The general qualities of the informalist language, forms a bundle of figurative works confronted, or interwoven, or directly mixed or in tension. The manner is clearly seen as an astonishing manner since the 1940s, although as a group it was shown in only two exhibitions, both in 1959. This location and this movement of comings and goings and ideas, place Informalism as one of the broad thresholds of passage from modern art to contemporary art. From this point, the neo-criollo informalism of artists such as Peluffo, Greco and Kemble nourish with frictions the three enclaves that since the end of the 1950s have been running towards post-historic art.

The starry ordered by parallel and simultaneous conversations shows a whole possible to be broken or in sets that intermingle.

A sample of the poly-informalism that was deployed throughout the field of objective accidents and adjectives of history and aesthetics.

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.