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LONDON, Hauser & Wirth Presents Guillermo Kuita, Opening September 23, 2008

EXHIBITION: Guillermo Kuitca

DATES: 24 September - 8 November at Hauser & Wirth Piccadilly
24 September - 10 October at Hauser & Wirth Colnaghi

OPENING: 23 September, 6 - 8pm

VENUE: Hauser & Wirth Piccadilly, 196A Piccadilly, London

and 

Hauser & Wirth Colnaghi, 15 Old Bond Street, London

Guillermo Kuitca is a painter of space, an organiser of emptiness. While thick with proliferate marks and signs, absence pervades his pictures: “I always have the idea that my work does not start out from a blank canvas, but goes towards it.” Thirteen new oil paintings — some almost four metres long — will be on display at both Hauser & Wirth’s Piccadilly and Old Bond Street galleries. They revisit two of the most radical explorations of space and surface in twentieth century painting: the planar shifts and fractured visions encountered in Picasso and Braque’s Cubist paintings; and Fontana’s iconic slashed canvases, which parted the normal parameters of painting to encompass the real world.
 
Kuitca’s new paintings have developed from a series shown last year at Ateneo Veneto, for the Argentine Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. To make them, he let human movement at its most elementary dictate his work. Kuitca paced to and fro in front of his canvases, marking them with short diagonal strokes as he walked, echoing a revelation he experienced at the age of nineteen that has influenced all his mature work: seeing the theatre of the avant-garde choreographer Pina Bausch in Buenos Aires, he was struck by her dictum that 'walking is enough'. Confined to this minimum, the smallness of human movement is posed against an awareness of the vastness of the unknown. This contrast, pitting the intimate against the infinite lies at the heart of Kuitca’s practice: “I am interested in the major contradiction between a medium like painting, which is so specific and partial,” he has explained, “and the abyss of an enormous knowledge of things.”
 
The paintings at Hauser & Wirth re-imagine Cubism, sampling its stylistic elements. Instead of the multiple viewpoints of a single, roving perspective intent upon conveying the experience of looking, Kuitca’s works characteristically fracture maps and diagrams, disintegrating the impersonal representations of things rather than things themselves. Many of the works in this exhibition include architectural plans, labyrinthine depictions of territorialized, anonymous space. Physically bigger than Analytical Cubist paintings, Kuitca’s envelope the viewer, inviting immersion and disorientation. In one of his longer paintings, migrant fragments of a map blizzard the image, presenting a maelstrom of disconnected information. Others take Fontana’s slashes as their starting point, translating the brutal immediacy of the Italian artist’s gesture into precisely painted marks that rhythmically pace Kuitca’s pictures. Illusionistically wounding Kuitca’s canvases, these mock incisions point to the humour and light-footedness of his practice, revealed here in his ability to generate a powerful poetics of dislocation while setting up a fictive showdown with long-dead members of the Modernist canon.

 

Guillermo Kuitca was born in 1961 and lives and works in Buenos Aires. His works are held in major collections including MALBA, Buenos Aires, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC. He represented his nation last year at the 52nd Venice Biennale and major solo exhibitions include Gallery Met, The Metropolitan Opera, New York (2007), Daros Exhibitions, Zurich (2006), Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2003), Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2000), Whitechapel Gallery, London (1995), MoMA, New York (1991) and Kunsthalle Basel, (1990). A major retrospective of his work opens at the Miami Art Museum in 2009 and travels to the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo NY, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, and Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis MN.

 

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Best, Noah Becker, Editor-in-Chief, Whitehot Magazine

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