OPENING: Artists’ Reception, Saturday, April 21, 6-8pm
Couturier Gallery is pleased to present Montevideo – New Visions, an exhibition of works by four leading contemporary artists living and working in Uruguay’s capitol city: Ana Campanella, Fernando Lopez Lage, Federico Rubio and Gustavo Tabares. The opening reception for the artists will be Saturday, April 21 from 6-8pm.
Montevideo, the largest city in Uruguay, is a port city of 1.8 million inhabitants and the hub of a progressive and diverse group of artists. In 1943, the great visionary artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia (1874-1949) founded the Taller Torres-García, or Studio of the South, the result of his interest in finding an artistic tradition in South American pre-Hispanic cultures. Torres-Garcia found numerous parallels between Pre-Columbian culture and the ancient Mediterranean civilizations, parallels in their profound concepts of metaphysics and universality, as well as in their geometric structures. These findings, among others, formed the basis for his manifesto, Constructive Universalism (Pub. 1941). The Studio, home to many artists, was to have a profound effect on art throughout South America and though the Studio itself was closed in 1967, its influence never waned.
Through his theories on art, Torres-Garcia urged his students to embrace their indigenous heritage to map out an autonomous Latin American perspective. And like the Bauhaus movement of Germany , it would cross the art spectrum and give a truly modern and definitive language to the Americas. This idiom, no less profound than Picasso’s “revelation” at viewing African masks in Paris, resulted in many important movements and artists such as: Geometric Abstraction, Grupo Madí (in Argentina), Optical-Kinetic, Gego, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jose Gurvich among others.
Beginning in 1973 Uruguay experienced a military dictatorship by the Revolutionary Coordinating Junta which forcibly silenced its political detractors by way of torture, imprisonment, exile and death. Many of these were artists and students. A military suppression of the arts was enforced until 1984 when democratic elections returned the country to its people. A generation later, a “post-dictatorship” crop of artists have vigorously sought and found their voice and vision to integrate rapidly into the world around them without losing sight of their origins or recent past, consciously or unconsciously. The contemporary movement today in Montevideo undeniably has its eye on today and the future with nods to the influences of the Taller of Torres-Garcia and its antecedents.
Montevideo – New Visions includes the work of four artists, representing a cross-section of the current contemporary art scene in that city: metalworker Ana Campanella; abstract painter Fernando Lopez Lage; photographer Federico Rubio; and mixed media artist Gustavo Tabares. Together they offer a varying array of disciplines with a single vision towards defining the contemporary art landscape of Uruguay.
Feminist artist Ana Campanella (b. 1980) finds new orientation in the medium of metal and combines this with her ideologies to create a unique series of embroidered wire
“…everything you do has a part of you, so even if your intention is purely aesthetic,
you will convey a message.”
Campanella’s message is not hidden or accidental. Using mid-gage aluminum wire she illustrates depictions of domestic chores or nefarious advertisement directed at women with a basting stitch technique. Through this modern application she mimics the domestic task of woman through the ages with heroic permanence.
Like many in the Latin American Geometric Abstraction movement, Fernando Lopez Lage (b. 1964) ascribes a methodology to create his vibrant and rhythmic pieces. As Lopez Lage explains in his “Justification of Paintings”:
“Paint is a system of thought. The focus of research is the square, the orthogonal.
The color is the dominant phenomenon, [and] the painting is its own purpose and content.”
Lopez Lage’s arrangement of overlapping colors and patterns in an impasto manner creates an optical feast, while the textural application provides emotional sustenance. This approach achieves a mesmerizing style that is akin to native basket weaving or loom work with a post-modern abstraction slant.
Photographer Federico Rubio (b. 1966) is the recipient of the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship Award. His photography has a seductive abstract objectivity which unveils the quiet truth found in nature’s geometry. Rubio’s subject matter and symmetry are anchored in the work of Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932), but he sees those aesthetics as his point of departure. Beyond that, his goal is to “capture the minute details that often go unseen by
the naked eye.” Of this series of work he writes:
“[It is] less an attempt to create a corpus about the vegetable world than a work on how specific elements of that universe look when isolated and photographed in black & white, against a neutral background, with a particular lighting, from a
Painter and mixed-media artist Gustavo Tabares (b. 1968) presents a series of Dada-esque collages using superimposed stencils and drawings of anonymous female forms over vintage WW2 Russian and Italian magazine pages. The pictorial elements suggest a demasculinization of fascism and a triumph of creative expression over military rule; not unlike that of the Junta in his own country. In addition to his artwork, Tabares is a teacher, independent curator and was co-director of the contemporary art gallery Marte Upmarket. He was a member of the MARTE Centro Cultural and from 2007-2010 acted as Coordinator and Advisor of Visual Arts in the Department of Culture, Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay. He is also the director of the forthcoming 2012 Uruguay Biennial.
We would like to thank Patricia Artigas, Enrique Loedel, Consul General of Uruguay; and Frank Baxter, former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay, for their gracious and generous support in helping make this exhibition possible.
For additional information and/or images please contact the gallery: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 323-933-5557.