In this show curated by Eva Grinstein, formalism and structure are emphasized above all else, continuing the strong tradition of geometric abstraction in Latin America. One enters Beloved Structure: Argentine Legacy and eyes the survey with economic downturn in mind, as if somehow their inspiration and references to a proven tradition were intended to withstand the present upheaval that has reached global shores.
Despite the historical mooring, most of the work in Beloved Structure is indicative of current Western art trends. You have your Anslem Reyle in the vertical-striped paintings of Andres Sobrino, who doesn’t actually use paint, but rather the common materials of foil, fabric, and tape. The results, however, are equally anticlimactic. There is the Richard Tuttle equivalent in the shaped formica works of Silvana Lacarra, whose reliance on contemporary product to “manufacture” simple structures are perhaps simplified a bit too much. One wishes for a little more complexity and dialogue between material and art history. Similarly, Mark Grotjahn’s converging lines find kin in Veronica Di Toro’s “symmetries.”
Other works in Beloved Structure take on a decorative and home-grown tribal aesthetic that is neither here nor there. The glass ‘wall chimes’ of Lucio Dorr seem to plea aganst the feeling of innocuousness. They are static objects forced against the wall, by will of the artist. Adriana Minoliti’s wooden, totemic cylinders and turned bowls mimick Flowers, as they are titled. Incorporating an assortment of painted buttons that pin them to the wall, they too, like Dorr’s glass pieces, feel deprived of sunlight and trapped by the gallery walls. Perhaps this speaks to the current state of geometric abstraction itself, or some other state of the cultural complex?
Nonetheless, departure takes place where reference can also be set aside, as in the assymetrical arrangement of small canvases by Silvia Gurfein. The seven works, each entitled Losing Time, operate like the refined machinery of a clock. Sliced and diced into colored circles and triangles, their hands and numbers reveal the time tables of a different clock. Like the avant-garde who came before, and by hook or by crook, Gurfein’s paintings pay homage to the cyclical nature of art production.
While the explorations of these young Argentine artists lead to images and objects that are pleasant enough, nothing in Beloved Structure particularly thrills. One can be commended for harboring reverence to traditions and the past. But it must also be recognized that impotent reverence for structure may sometimes impede the glorious wrecking ball that potentially ushers in a truly new period of reconstruction.
Images: Andres Sobrino, Untitled (2008-09), self adhesive fabric, metallic and vinyl tape; Silvia Gurfein, Losing Time (2007-09), oil on canvas; Adriana Minoliti, Flowers (2009), oil and acrylic buttons on wood. Courtesy Alejandra von Hartz Gallery.