Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern

*Construcción en blanco (Construction in white)*

Joaquín Torres-García. Construcción en blanco (Construction in white). 1931

Joaquín Torres-García. Construcción en blanco (Construction in white). 1931. Oil on linen, 69 × 35″ (175.3 × 88.9 cm). Estate of Gonzalo Fonseca. © Sucesión Joaquín Torres-García, Montevideo 2015

Narrator: Torres-García believed that his doctrine of Constructive Universalism was rooted in pre-existing concepts. He wrote in 1930: “What I call universal form is not an invention, but rather a return to an ancient method of construction according to immutable laws.”

In Construction in White, his form of abstraction reaches its fullest development.

Karen Grimson: Constructive Universalism is the conjunction of an abstract work with figurative elements. What we see here is an overall grid-like composition in which the entire work is fragmented and filled with linear drawings. We can mainly see a large central clock. Torres-García was convinced that time and the sense of temporality was one of the largest conventions in human experience. So the reiteration of clocks throughout his work signals this convention of temporality as a symbol. We also see a woman opposite to the man, referring to the couple of creation. And the fish, as the symbol in Christianity, indicates Man’s relationship to nature.

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