This exhibition of recent works by Argentine Guillermo Kuitca is the artist’s first one-person museum exhibition in the United States.
Kuitca employs such imagery as beds and chairs, stage sets, floor plans, city plans, and road maps to express a sense of memory, loss, desire, and fear. The romantic, theatrical melancholy that pervades his work is particularly Argentine in flavor. At the same time, Kuitca’s art manifests a concern with the body that has been a theme in much of the contemporary European and American art of the past decade. His house plans, for example, can behave like human beings, exhibiting basic emotional and physical responses; they weep, bleed, have broken hearts, contract AIDS.
Begun in 1982, Kuitca’s paintings of beds that are clean, usually tightly made, and empty represent the security of childhood, but also isolation and exclusion from the adult world. Beds appear in the stage sets that the artist began to depict in the early eighties as well. These canvases frequently seem to represent the moment after a play’s climax, sometimes including overturned furniture and figures lying hurt or dead.
The house plans, which first appear in 1987, show the same generic four-room apartment, sometimes rendered as three dimensional. These are Kuitca’s most flexible images; like the stage sets, they sometimes seem to represent the immediate aftermath of tumultuous action. Iconographic elements, such as thorns, tears, hanging bodies, and bones, first appear on the house plans. By 1989, Kuitca is painting road maps on the mattresses of actual beds.
Curator Lynn Zelevansky writes, “The interweaving of different levels of reality, and the easy movement between them, is essential to Kuitca’s art. This fluidity…is made possible by the artist’s use of established, symbolic modes of inscription—the road map, city plan, floor plan—taken out of context and sufficiently abstracted that emotional associations to time and place survive, but literal meanings are sublimated.”
Organized by Lynn Zelevansky, curatorial assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.
The exhibition was made possible by Lily Auchincloss and The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Additional support was provided by Gallet S.A., Giro Sport Design, Inc. and Kiwi Helmets.