Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce “Acoustic Mass,” an exhibition of theatre collages and map paintings by Guillermo Kuitca.
Inspired by seating charts of famous opera houses and theatres around the world, Kuitca’s theatre collages are mysterious abstractions, explosions of space and color that capture the vivid and dramatic experience of being in a theatre, either in the audience or on the stage. Pieces of paper, large and small, are scattered across the background, the visual manifestation of sound. Kuitca’s theatres, though physically empty of people, are full of energy. According to conductor Stephen Barlow, “Guillermo Kuitca’s auditoria are alive volcanoes underpinning the dormant theatre of life. His theatres are empty but throbbing, waiting, home to the ghosts of past events, and of battles to come. They pulse with hot color, some drifting dreamily and vaporously on wistful aqua gauzes, others glowing hot in the darkness, a darkness that hides the public from the performer’s blinded eyes. From afar they appear like footprints, closer they become maps, only revealing the individual spirits on keen inspection.” Kuitca has been working with theatre imagery since the 1980s, beginning with a visit to Europe in 1981 where he met choreographer Pina Bausch. In 2003, Kuitca designed a production of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” for the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In recent years, the artist has focused on making increasingly complex paper works, constructing spaces of ethereal beauty through collage that vibrate and resonate. The new series of six works, entitled “Acoustic Mass” to be on view, is the climax of this project, the largest and most dynamic of Kuitca’s theatre collages.
Map paintings, each entitled “Everything”, are monochromatic renderings (orange, blue, white) of fragmentary American road maps. From a distance, the paintings look like meteorological mappings of storms, the enigmatic web of roads and state lines like lightening bolts; but up close, the viewer sees names of cities, towns, rivers. However, these maps are not reliable guides—Dallas is next to Philadelphia, which borders on Eugene, the result of the overlapping and manipulation of geographical order. Without a clear beginning or end, the journeys mapped on these vertical canvases question the viewer’s sense of place and create a strong feeling of dislocation.
Born in 1961 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he continues to live, Kuitca is a key figure in the history of Latin American art. His work has been exhibited extensively around the globe and is included in many important public collections. Major solo exhibitions include a retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2003) which traveled to MALBA, Buenos Aires (2003); a survey at Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2000) and a one-man exhibition, “Projects 30”, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1991). The artist has also participated in major group exhibitions, including Documenta 9 in 1992, the 1995 Carnegie International, and the 1985 Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he represented Argentina. An upcoming retrospective, co-organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, is due to begin its tour in 2008. This is Kuitca’s seventh exhibition at Sperone Westwater.