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Some… and a few more, at the Fundación Proa in Buenos Aires


08 July 2013

Some… and a few more, at the Fundación Proa in Buenos Aires

As a paraphrase of the legendary show ‘Algunos artistas’ (Some artists) that in 1992 set the stage for the artistic movement of the Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas in Buenos Aires, The Fundación Proa delves into the caches of three principle Argentine collectors.

“Unsurprised, (…) we listen to many artists who manage to give us an account of what they do with enviable precision and economy. (…) No more wandering in ignorance: work!” Who grumbled this in 1997 was Jorge Gumier Maier, director of the gallery of the Centro Cultural Rojas, the space that became a reference for Argentine art of the generation of the nineties, with a large part of its ideological protein being supplied by Gumier Maier: incommunicable, mysterious, resistant to the academic discourse and mediation of the audience, the art of Rojas was an isolated artistic ecosystem, independent from the institutional infrastructures that were on their way to turning contemporary art into the massive cultural industry that we are now all familiar with.

Founded in 1989, the gallery of Rojas had Gumier Maier as its curator until 1996, during which time it presented the artists that would become emblematic of this decade and its climate of ideas (such as Lux Lindner, Marcelo Pombo, Fabio Kacero and Fernanda Laguna, who in 1998 opened, along with Cecilia Pavón, the gallery and editorial ’Belleza y Felicidad’). Gumier Maier bid farewell to his role with a retrospective that was at the same time a manifesto: ‘The Tao of Art’ (1997), the earlier quote being taken from its catalogue. The show was a precipitate ideology of the art of Rojas, amongst the ranks of which stood out the amateurs, the stubborn and the consciously naïve. The art that refuses to identify itself with the work of a network of relations of professional production can only turn in the opposite direction of aesthetic ideas, towards the re-sacralisation of art, towards the idea that art is an object of spiritual intellection, prone only to manifest itself amongst artists. Closing artistic ranks and closing the circle of communication (to the radius of a metre, according to the recommendation of Pombo), art remains safe from its misappropriation as an industry, work or service.

Hence the radical incommunicability of the art that Gumier Maier refers to in his essay (the polemical antagonist for which would be the informative vinyl signage of biennales, with their atmosphere of good conscience and intellectual extortion). For this Argentine art of the nineties was so frequently stigmatized as untranslatable. Its untranslatability, in any case, responding to a self-awareness and the specific needs of the time: in order to be different from work, art had to be radically distinct from communication, it had to become something opaque, withdrawn, empathic for only those who located themselves within its closest vicinity. To ponder Argentine art of the nineties, rather than others of the time, makes it necessary to recuperate this interweaving of undoubtedly esoteric ideas.

Bearing all this in mind, it’s possible to enter into Algunos artistas, an exhibition selected from the collections of Gustavo Bruzzone, Esteban Tedesco and Alejandro Ikonicoff in Fundación Proa that tacitly functions as a measured homage to a generation that sought to recuperate aesthetic radicality, with its principles and problems, beyond the lines of the tourist industry, institutional bureaucracy and the service sector.

However, this generation, -whose works make up the Bruzzone collection, in the first of the rooms -, ends up being interrupted by the strange impulse to present it along with two collections that aren’t just from later, but are also very distinct in their historical make up. It’s sufficient to take one step towards the following room of Fundación Proa to suspect that between the nineties and the first decade of the 2000 there occurred a drastic change of mood: more global, more aseptic, dissociated from the context and more or less lacking any ideological issues (crisis? what crisis?). Argentine art in the first decade of 2000 in the versions of Tedesco and Ikonicoff seems to neither add nor remove anything, as if cushioned by a sort of neutrality with neither antagonisms nor reactions, inert like the argon gas that is used to seal uncorked bottles impeding the wine from coming into contact with any oxygen. The exhibition, that even in its title recuperates the art of the nineties, to the detriment of the following decade, adds two entire collections to the Bruzzone’s collection, but without adding any readings or any form of background.

The difference between wine and wine and soda is a stereotype of Peronist political jargon and a reversion of Gatopardism (change, so that ultimately nothing changes). Algunos artistas, with its three chapters, offers one dose of wine for two parts soda.

Claudio Iglesias is an art critic based in Buenos Aires. His latest books are Corazón y realidad (Consonni, Bilbao, 2018) and Genios pobres (Mansalva, Buenos Aires, 2018).

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