|Commissions: Guillermo Kuitca
Sculpture, September 2007, p. 19
1 September 2007
Guillermo Kuitca's "Aquarelle", unveiled during Art Basel Miami Beach, leaves a permanent impression on the coastal neighborhood, lingering long after the excitement of the fair. The work was commissioned for the AQUA neighborhood, by Craig Robins, president of Dacra Development, a real estate development company whose "mission is to create neighborhoods that use art, architecture, and design to create a strong sense of place." Kuitca, who represents Argentina at the 2007 Venice Biennale, writes that "Aquarelle" was planned for its designated site "to create a meeting point for the neighborhood."
Four bleached steps in the shape of the footprint of Allison Island - where the AQUA development is located - surround a sunken pool whose floor displays a map-like image of the neighborhood. Geometric shapes resembling city blocks, sidewalks, and streets are depicted in terrazzo of varying shades of white and gray. While Kuitca's paintings frequently feature architectural blueprints and maps, in "Aquarelle", the map of the island lies beneath a thin film of water. The water adds life and fluidity to this static portrayal of the neighborhood, creating "the illusion of a moving image." Kuitca writes: "I consider this sculpture as an enlarged, physically materialized watercolor painting, and so have titled it 'Aquarelle''.
The titular reference to transparent watercolors evoked idyllic connotations, and the finished piece is undeniably beautiful. Still, as the threat of melting polar icecaps and rising sea levels enters ever more prominently into public consciousness, it is interesting to see a sculpture displaying the submersion of a coastal island. While global warming does not enter into Kuitca's artist statement, a sense of place figures prominently. He writes: "I like to think that the map of Allison Island, no longer useful as a geographical chart, creates a sense of disorientation, rather than orientation, for the viewers." One can imagine the water creating a mirage-like effect on the map: sunlight reflecting off the water's surface may, at times, render the island's image invisible. A mini-Allison Island, "Aquarelle" serves not only as a gathering point, but also as a launching point for contemplation of the meaning of place.
- Laura Dillon