Argentina’s Guillermo Kuitca

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This Biennale is a big moment for the Argentine painter Guillermo Kuitca. In Rob Storr’s international show at the Arsenale he has no fewer than 38 round canvases that take up two large walls from top to bottom. Those are part of a series called “Diarios”, each representing a period of weeks or months in his life since 1994.

He’s also the sole representative of his nation at the Argentine pavilion, located in the 17th century Ateneo Veneto, not far from the La Fenice opera house. Kuitca has filled that small pavilion with four large canvses very different from his work at the Arsenale. The first two work variations on the faceted Cubist space of Picasso and Braque, if those guys had ever made the leap to pure abstraction, which they never did, and at the large scale of a Jackson Pollock all-over painting. The last of the four is a panoramic variation on the possibilities in the slashed canvases of Lucio Fontana. The third is a transition from Picasso’s space to Fontana’s.

I caught up wth Kuitca Friday morning at the Argentine pavilion.

Lacayo: Why choose to work first with Cubist space?

Kuitca: I didn’t choose it; it was just there. Obviously I recognized that I had begun producing Cubist volumes and space, but I didn’t start by attempting to produce a Cubist painting. I had not been painting for two years. I had been working on paper. I think i found myself in the privileged position that you find yourself in when you don’t know where you want to go. But I didn’t want to revisit places I had been or things I’ve done.

Then I realized it was exactly 100 years since Picasso had begun Cubist space (with Les Desmoiselles), and with that I also started thinking about 100 years of solitude.

Lacayo: Why that? The book?

Kuitca: It’s not just me. All artists are alone. But I was thinking of the solitude of the viewer. I thought that what Picasso started was this moment of solitude in looking at painting. The movies are a shared experience. Painting requires solitude.

Lacayo: What about the second painting, which uses the same Cubist space but with a much lighter pallette, full of white?

Kuitca: I started that painting in winter. And I was thinking of hibernation. Remember, I had stopped painting for two years. But then I started to crash into other ideas and painters, and one of them was Fontana.

Enough for now, but we’ll return briefly to this conversation in a later post. I need to catch up with the U.S pavilion next at the Giardini.