|Up Now: Guillermo Kuitca
ARTnews, December 2009, p. 116
1 December 2009
Subtitled Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980-2008, this outstanding retrospective of the work of Guillermo Kuitca features 54 paintings and 15 works on paper (including one in 32 parts). The show, co-organized with Buffalos Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Hirshorn Museum in Washington DC., looks at how the peripatetic Argentine artist has linked his work to other arts, including music, theater, cinema, literature, and dance the everything of the subtitle in a variety of collaborations and installations around the world. To give the show focus, curator Douglas Dreishpoon concentrated on how the themes of travel and memory eloquently intersect in the recurring imagery of maps, baggage, beds, and airports.
The noisy airport baggage conveyor belt becomes a beautiful metaphor in the paintings Terminal (2000) and Trauerspiel (Tragedy, 2001). In both works, this fixture of long-distance travel, absent its cargo and rendered in shades of black and silver, recalls a hard-edged Minimalist sculpture but also suggests an oddly proportioned empty stage set, waiting to play host to the action. Frozen in time, the empty machine evokes thoughts of cycles repeating and of how the past overlaps with the present.
Time and memory are more explicitly addressed in early works, such as El mar dulce (1984), in which figures, spread about a vast room resembling a theater, seems to be acting out various scenarios - perhaps while sleepwalking. The surreal painting alludes to the Kuitca familys migration from Russia to Argentina, part of a wave of Jewish immigration to South America in the early 20th century.
Also well represented here were Kuitcas better-known, more-recent drawings and paintings of exploded theater seating charts. In this context, they appeared to be the culmination of the artists long engagement with theater and his move toward abstracted forms. But the highlight among his new works is found in the smaller show Guillermo Kuitca: Everything (else), organized with Miami Dade College and presented at the Freedom Tower. There, three translucent scrims, titled Der Fliegende Holländer (Scrim Suite), 2009, float behind one another, so viewers can experience them one at a time or all at once. Kuitca uses delicate colors to describe a deconstructed conveyor belt, creating a resonant symbol of the insistent and layered qualities of memory itself.
- Elisa Turner