Sperone Westwater is pleased to present Guillermo Kuitca’s ninth solo exhibition at the gallery, focusing on historical graphite paintings from The Tablada Suite (1992) and Poema Pedagógico (1996). A richly illustrated 112-page catalogue, Guillermo Kuitca: Drawn Paintings, will be published on the occasion of the exhibition, featuring an essay by art historian Pepe Karmel as well as additional drawn paintings utilizing ink, watercolor pencil and charcoal on canvas.
The main gallery features three major works from The Tablada Suite, one of the artist’s most well-known series, first exhibited at Sperone Westwater in 1994. Consisting of ten graphite-on-canvas works, the suite is named after the Jewish cemetary located in the city of La Tablada in Buenos Aires. Kuitca describes: “There is a very big map for people who go to visit the cemetary and when I saw it, I said to myself, ‘that looks like my work.’ But I’ve removed a lot of information from it, like symbols or a monument for victims of the Holocaust or words that say ‘for future use.’” This series marks a shift from the more intimate houseplans of Kuitca’s early work. Here, he turns to institutional maps as subject matter, making abstract depictions of plans for stadiums, jails and hospitals. Each architectural plan is deprived of its typical precision through the elimination of explicit symbols and text—Kuitca uses a pencil to blur, smudge, blend and rub graphite to the point that diagrammatic lines lose their referentiality and become more abstract, demonstrating the artist’s touch. The Tablada Suite II, a major work on loan from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, depicts the seating chart for Carnegie Hall drawn over a pastel blue acrylic base, referring to the pale palettes common to institutional architecture. In his catalogue essay, Pepe Karmel writes, “Kuitca returned to his fascination with performance in The Tablada Suite II, based on the plan of an old-fashioned theater, with rows of orchestra seats at top, surrounded by horseshoe rings of private boxes, with, below them, three ranks of balcony seating. In effect, it shows the arrangement of the spectators who might be watching the dramas that unfold in Kuitca’s earlier paintings.”
Also featured are canvases from Poema Pedagógico. Subverting the obsessive order of The Tablada Suite, the Poema Pedagógico works repeat and overlay the aerial view of a classroom, reduced to overlapping geometric squares and circles representing the desks of schoolchildren and teacher. Karmel explains, “Order runs amok, each series following its own sequence, but no longer synchronized with the series that accompany it. The points de capiton have ceased to fasten together the different layers of memory.” In the East gallery, Untitled, 1996, depicts a similar chaos. Kuitca returns to the stadium floorplan (the subject of The Tablada Suite V), repeating the same composition with less representational precision. As Karmel describes, “the symmetrical ampitheater dissolves into rectangular patches of repeated marks, arranged in concentric, spiraling curves. Rather than seeing an image, the viewer sees the effort of the artist’s hand feeling its way across the canvas, trying to re-create order by purely tactile means.”
The second floor gallery includes later canvases in which graphite is the primary medium. In Encyclopédie V, 2010, and Untitled, 2014, Kuitca returns to his iconic cartographic imagery and subjects it to a process of disintegration—tracing, smudging and rubbing graphite until the map no longer represents precise geography.
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, 3 November, from 5-7pm.
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