Kuitca Part Two

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Let’s finish that conversation I started a few posts back with Guillermo Kuitca, 46, the Buenos Aires-based painter who is representing his country this year at the Argentine pavilion at the Teatro Ateneo and who also has 38 canvases in the International group show at the Arsenale. We were talking about his exhibition at the Argentine pavilion, a sequence of four large abstract paintings, completed in 2006 and 2007. The first two explore the faceted Cubist space of Picasso and Braque. The last of them is a meditation on the slashed canvases of the postwar Italian abstractionist Lucio Fontana. The third is a transitional canvas in which you might say Picasso’s space on the right collides with Fontana’s on the left, a kind of artworld battle of the bands.

LACAYO: This third painting is the first to have a significant amount of color, that huge red patch on the left that’s been cleanly slashed several times with a knife as Fontana used to do. But in the other three canvases the color is mostly limited to greys and whites, like the brown and black of Picasso’s Analytical Cubist work.

KUITCA: I was also thinking about the tradition of the Academy des Beaux Art. I was never trained academically, which may have been a plus. But in the early Beaux Art style you were supposed to work with complementary colors to create a somber pallette.

LACAYO: Even the scale of the canvases is in some ways academic. For many people large paintings make them think first of the Abstract Expressionists. But the AbEx painters were just trying to bring back to art the scale of 19th century history painting.

KUITCA: It’s true, I think there is a lot of academicism in these works. At first I wondered if I should be embarassed by doing this.

LACAYO: Well, any time you recapitulate a 100 year old style like Cubism, that’s an academic pursuit. But it doesn’t have to produce an academic result.

KUITCA: Of course! Otherwise I would be really embarassed.