GUILLERMO KUITCA – THEATERS LITTLE BRAINS

About GUILLERMO KUITCA  

  exhibition  Guillermo Kuitca 18 May – 11 August 2019  Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Teatro Colón) 2018-2019, Mixed media on paper, 29 x 42 cm. 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches. 
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

 

THEATERS LITTLE BRAINS

by Rosanna Albertini

 paintings are self obscuring bodies of historyJohn Cage

Crazy effort is ours to make sense

because we use words and they seem to exist for that job

although making sense or giving up with it are much bigger activities than writing or speaking words.

Kuitca makes paintings and “attacks” them from inside

since 2005 he realized he can barely introduce humans in the painted scenes

often they are replaced by numbers and geometrical signs for seats

he doesn’t have inspiring urgency to make art 

A mí no me sucede -he says.

No tengo necesidad de expresarme.

Cuando estoy trabajando, es como si la obra me fuera dictando lo que tengo que hacer.

Me aterra que la obra tienda a organizarse aun cuando yo trate de producir cambios importantes. 

En el intento de ruptura, muchas veces lo único que se consigue es una estructura tan organizada como la que se quería romper.

Reconozco que ese movimiento … es en parte el deseo de ruptura que nunca se cumplió.”

Desire of breaking off that never kept its promise.

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Staples Center) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper, 29 x 42 cm  11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

I admire the philosopher in these miniature theaters, the man walking around in his studio perhaps in search of his mind, as much as the paintings. Kuitca is right, boundaries and infinity share the same space, in paintings they join their power. The artist answers to their secret call and finds himself facing a sort of physical resistance in the paper or canvas as the composition takes form. 

As this happens, he needs to attack the image from inside. There is a circular movement in the pictorial process -as Kuitca describes it-  as if the “obra,” the art piece, had her own way to assemble images and colors, and the artist was listening to the silent forms coming from him or escaping from him? “If the obra unfolds herself, -he says- she makes it chaining, not breaking.” “Despite the effort of producing big changes…what I obtain is a structure as well organized as the one that I would like to break.”

I only can imagine stopping painting when my pictorial project accomplishes itself.”  “As if something ended and I stayed out of it.”

Real theaters and stadiums are large, well organized monuments of architectural order.

Numbers, prices, performances swirl in the artist’s mind as he performs as a painter. He doesn’t go beyond the map in these small theaters’ making.  He builds his own configuration no bigger than a hand, and the very idea of structure is forced to deal with the human nature of the hand that draws, paints and glues. While the architectural forms spring back into colors, their painted new life starts fighting against the order. As if it wasn’t enough, the artist floods the area over the orchestra, opens cracks in the stability of the building. The edges crumble, the center is shaken by lines that seem to activate an electric storm. The rows become black and pink feathers.

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled ( Oslo Opera House) 2018-1019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

   

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (David Geffen Hall) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

   

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Metropolitan Opera House) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth.  Photo: Jeff Mclane

                                               

The artist, contemporary Diogenes. Instead of holding a candle in the face of the other humans, looking for the honest one, Guillermo Kuitca places and holds in front of our eyes miniature portraits of our brains. Is he challenging our own virtue? They are also pealed open heads, stripped of the usual overdressed makeup. They might be many single heads, or one, rather, disguised through different modes. It’s our inner chaos that flickers in front of us. 

Don’t mistake me. We are not impenetrable safes. We are sponges breathing in and out infinite vibrations. Life of others enters our bodies like a bunch of needles, whether we want it or not.

Only literally these are theaters. They are theaters for sure, places that underwent a radical clean up from velvet, posters and decoration, as well as heads not only stripped from bones, hair and lipstick, also deprived of intellectual pride, that cloud of purity we honor, some times, to forget we are guests of a supreme intelligence which is our body, the magnificent container of growth and decay, under the will of time.

Each theater replicates the map of an existing theater, but the title of the painting  is UNTITLED. 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Teatro alla Scala) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

Cynical like Diogenes, I like to drink in the cup of my hands. My eyes absorb the painted images in the same, simple way. It’s a new experience in front of each piece. I see numbered seats mutate into entangled neurons, loosening like pieces of thread cut into the seam. My own neurons curl up, still hurt by the pain I encountered on the sidewalk this morning, waiting for the bus. A man asked me for money for the fare. His eyes met mine only once, for an instant. Here it is, I told him, and tried to talk with him. He kept his face down until tears dropped, heavy like lead. A few words from him revealed he had just lost wife and two children, all dead. The only remains of his life were in his gray, double suitcase. His tragedy has become mine. Inner life is life of others. We obey life as this painter who is very dear to me obeys the obra, the work he does. A new world comes out of it. Pain is not hidden. Which creates disruption, uncertainty, and a lot of unknown.  

The space we share, in front of his paintings and every day, on the road. 

Everyone probably experiences something different. 

WITTGENSTEIN with one alteration: “painting” instead of “proposition”

A  painting … does not actually contain its sense, but does contain the possibility of expressing it. …

A painting contains the form, but not the content, of its sense.  (Tractatus, 3.15)

Only facts can express a sense, a set of names cannot. (Tractatus, 3.142)

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Bayreuth Festspielhaus) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kuitca’s words are all from his conversation with Graciela Speranza in GUILLERMO KUITCA OBRAS 1982-1998, © Graciela Speranza and Guillermo Kuitca, Editorial Norma S.A., 1998 Santafe´de Bogotá

GUILLERMO KUITCA, THEATRE COLLAGES, © 2005 Guillermo Kuitca, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London, Stephen Barlow, Karen Wright. Scalo Verlag AG, Zürich, Switzerland

John Cage, A YEAR FROM MONDAY, Weslayan University Press, Middletown, Connecticut, 1963

Ludwig Wittgenstein, TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS, Translation by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961

 

 

YELLOW MOON – LENZ GEERK

About LENZ GEERK  “Mixed Blessings”

at Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, September 2019

 

LENZ GEERK, Untitled 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 70 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles CA

LENZ GEERK, Croissant 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 cm Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects Los Angeles CA

YELLOW MOON

by Rosanna Albertini

No, says the child, the moon is white. That is not the moon, it’s a croissant. 

I am not in the mood for fighting, words assume they are right, so does the child. 

I keep seeing the moon wearing a puffy dress, looking kindly at the people of the house. 

They look at her or keep her in their minds in an uncanny way, even when the moon-croissant, the crescent moon, is off stage, or he looks as if he is wondering where she is, the man about to pick up his briefcase or maybe only passing by through the corridor. His thoughts, heavier than the bag, make him greenish. He might be a tree man growing out of the bag like a Houdini. It’s a painted reality, at the mercy of the marketplace.

 But the artist knows that and he is conscious at the same time, deeply conscious, that he makes people and rooms and objects in his paintings “the only way that he is able to get the picture to exist.” Therefore the story doesn’t have to be necessary,  “it has to exist but it doesn’t have to be necessary …. because the minute it is necessary it has in it no possibility of going on.” 

LENZ GEERK, Pearl Painting and Pearl Necklace 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 49 x 35 cm Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles CA

Gertrude, you are welcome. Did you notice the woman adjusting the necklace underneath her hair, she only has a portion of an arm, maybe she is a statue. Her pearl is so powerful that turns into a giant pearl, a mother pearl? floating between painted waves in another painting. Mystery grows, for the two figures, the woman statue and the painting, float in the dark emerging from the canvas like Venus from the ocean. The painter, I wonder, maybe the painter is realizing he doesn’t have the soft, absorbing surface of felt underneath anymore, he is painting on canvas, not so easy, not so welcoming. He stops remembering the felt. He chops the arm, acts anew and lets the brush make the job.

Pirandello would call the figures six characters in search of their author, so lost in their own nature that they barely deal with the density of the living. Geerk’s painted creatures are not even completely human. They stand rigid, or slightly folded on themselves like leaves, or fall down in a strange angle as flowers do in a vase when the water has soaked the stem and petals dry up.  Impossible to imagine them in a less empty space, less anonymous. A man leans toward the crescent moon on the table, can’t reach her. His woman companion on the chair seems suspicious, keeps her distance.

LENZ GEERK, The Croissant 2019, Acrylic on canvas 80 x 115 cm Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles CA

 Another woman in a small gray painting looks at the yellow presence from afar, half hidden behind the doorway. That is the epilogue of the mystery story, the same that unfolds in five views of the same place: one of the two corners of the moon has been eaten, or stolen. It’s a croissant, not a moon anymore. Exactly as in an old Inuit tale: the house was flying, people inside asked the house to stop, they were cold. The house stopped and the people put some light snow in their lamps, the snow burned and gave them light. Someone from the street went in and said, “the snow is burning!”  And the flame disappeared. 

In our story the flame remained lit in the painter.

An interesting closeness to Morandi’s palette, and to the soft edges of his painted cups and pitchers, goes along with the quiet intensity of the figures locked in themselves and unrevealed dreams. If the crescent moon is their dream, it’s obviously unreachable. But the painter ate it. 

LENZ GEERK, Untitled 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 200 cm Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles CA

 BIBLIOGRAPHY

GERTRUDE STEIN, Look at Me Now and here I Am,  Writings and Lectures 1909-1945, Penguin Books, 1967

Inuit stories in Jerome Rothenberg, Technicians of the Sacred, Third edition, University of California press, 2017

MORANDI, Catalogue of Giorgio Morandi, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1981. The catalogue I consulted belongs to Lucas Reiner, painter. He lent it to me with trepidation because it was one of his mother’s favorite books. Thank you Lucas, both the book and myself hope to see you soon.

 

TETSUYA YAMADA : THE MAN IN THE CLOSET

TETSUYA YAMADA

and his 3 days-installation in an empty Minneapolis hardware store

FRONT AND BACK BACK AND FRONT  2018

Photographic documentation by Rik Sferra

 

“As with most truths, the simpler the words, the stronger and more straightforward they are and most forcefully they strike our hearts.”  Rikyu, 15th century Japan

Tetsuya Yamada: “How can I create an artwork with a life independent of my intention? 

I mean the work has to be given its own life.”

I ask Gertrude Stein to answer him: “The master-pieces do not exist by human nature…they exist because they come to be as something that is an end in itself and in that respect it is opposed to the business of living which is relation and necessity.” (Look at Me Now and Here I Am, Writings and Lectures 1909-1945, Penguin Books 1990)

 

 

the man in the closet

by Rosanna Albertini

Wearing the title words as clogs for walking, my mind goes. Almost one year after November 2018, photographs are the place in which the installation still lives. The storefront has absorbed the images of the city across the street, gently struck by winter light over trees that already forgot the green. The scene makes the front of the store the natural background of houses trees and cars as if the windows had captured the cycle of time only by acceptance: relation and necessity. That’s the place, not the art. A bicycle appears.

The art is different. An uninhabited building, waiting for new users, certainly didn’t expect an artist born in Tokyo was about to transform the inner space into an art temple. No parts of the building were changed. A verbally expressed idea, FRONT AND BACK BACK AND FRONT (title of the art installation) was printed white on black on the exhibition’s poster, floating on the front of the building as a pediment in a miracle of symmetry.  It’s a steady statement perfect for capital letters from which doubts and hesitations are banned. The artist could wear it on his own forehead. If I mentally look at his body I have no doubts about his front side, but I must turn around him to see his back. I can do it, he can’t unless he uses a double mirror.

Truth is, the physical body supposed to be in between FRONT and BACK throws the linguistic perfection to hell. As soon as I say it, it goes dead. Must zip my lips to keep the brain restrained. The key is conjunction, the little AND. It has a limitless dimension. Supposing the question arises, I say yes, the imaginary space between FRONT and BACK is the core of the apple, the hydraulic electrical engine of each human underneath the skin, hard to please impossible to control. A human body is yet one of the most mysterious and unpredictable creatures in the universe. So is any emptied living place in which a door screeching, steps on the floor, a bird flying in by curiosity, hands exchanging money for screwdrivers, or fixing all those mechanical engines of our homes that we only notice when they break, become a cacophony, a concert immersed in a peculiar density of smells emanating from wood, metals, industrial oils and plastic tools. Oh, someone stole a pliers!

It’s possible that Yamada explored the inner emptiness of the store like a man in the closet. The black and white poster works as a guardian in uniform waiting outside. Inside, the store becomes the inside of a body with two hearts. Two beating engines meeting for the first time and learning how to beat together: the artist’s and the fifty year old store’s, two distinct lives. Their acquaintance is three days long.  They are the same age, the artist and the midwestern space, now dreaming of voices and people and big tables and shelves all gone. Wood or metal scraped from the floor left their shape, wounds in the middle of room’s and corridor’s floors painted gray. Under the neons’ light, they might be small rivers, or a pond for the many ghosts filling the air, working. They never abandoned the store. Myriads of traces on the floor and on the wall panels tell their story.

Yamada brought in art that could relate to the hums of presences all around him: his own gestures, when writing with tar the skin of the land, or forcing his hands to blindly write and draw underneath the table, and photographs of unrest in the landscapes. Contrasting with the lack of windows in the basement, he hangs on the wall panels outdoor images and language alterations. His body language expands through images reaching the ghosts’ language in a silent conversation. Silence in this case is practical and functional. In this doubled conversation that we can only imagine the art in her entirety reaching the peak of beauty.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tetsuya’s younger body skating on the floors. The athlete in him is the forebear of future gestures. 

Nevertheless the space is livable. It needed a fan: Tetsuya introduces a TV fan looping every four minutes twenty eight seconds. Did Nam Jun Paik leave an unconscious echo in him? The ground floor has a population of sculptures, light and rigid, perfectly symmetrical, no name on them. 

Why there are no conjunctions, why colors are avoided, why clay for the cylinders, usage is possible but unlikely, like: the table is set for guests to come and stand, adding their own freedom of language.

What a scene! All the mess of life, so many efforts to make impersonal what the artist creates almost despite himself, looking at himself from far, putting himself and the work in a big closet, and so escaping the social game of the art world based on money and power. In three words: Honor to him.

Please walk through the photographs. 

TETSUYA YAMADA, Fan (video) 2018 4:28 loop

TETSUYA YAMADA, Tar Gestures series, Gelatin Silver print, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, Pun under the table Drawing series, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, Tar Gesture series, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, From the series Tar Gesture, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, From the series Trace, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, from the series Trace, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, Slowly fast, Fastly Slow from the series Pun under the table Drawing, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, Light in the Dark, Dark in the Light, from the series Pun under the table Drawing, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, sculpture, Front and Back Back and Front, T-shirts with coat rack, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, installation Top and Bottom, Bottom and Top, fired clay and wood, 2018

TETSUYA YAMADA, installation Top and Bottom, Bottom and Top, fired clay and wood, 2018

PS       This piece is dedicated to another man in the closet. He spent most of his life in tiny rooms inventing, fixing and building. Exploring the life of melting metals and electronic circuits.

Often the place was literally a closet, with no windows. His tools, the holes in the wall panels, photographs and microphones were his new world, where his brain might work and maybe rest, separate from the outdoor reality. Charles Trenet’s songs were crackling coming out from one of the radio foreign channels he was able to capture.

A fading page of an old local newspaper has the photo of a working micro-engine in a thimble. He made it when he was twelve. They said it was the smallest engine in the whole world. As a young soldier, not more than a boy, he worked for the American army near Cassino, at the end of WWII.  Transmissions were his specialty. He was borrowed from the Italian army. Although Italian, he was far from home. His family thought him dead for a long while, when there was no communication between North and South Italy. The war left indelible marks in his mind. They never found a way out. The closet, that was his brain and his universe. He was my father.