Critics’ Picks

View of “Alto sorto sopra” (Rising High Above), 2011. Foreground: Gris #1 (Gray #1), 2011; Gris #2 (Gray #2), 2011.

View of “Alto sorto sopra” (Rising High Above), 2011. Foreground: Gris #1 (Gray #1), 2011; Gris #2 (Gray #2), 2011.

Berlin

Armando Andrade Tudela

Supportico Lopez
Kurfürstenstrasse 14/b
April 27–June 11, 2011

In Armando Andrade Tudela’s latest exhibition, “Alto sorto sopra” (Rising High Above), two sculptural installations inhabit the far left corner of the gallery’s rectangular subterranean space, with the second of these wedged between a column and two radiators jutting out from the wall. The latter is Gris #1 (Gray #1), 2011, a wooden structure that resembles a long, smooth pallet wrapped in thick plastic—so that it appears blurry—and placed on a very graphic (almost elegant) tapestry featuring marijuana leaves. In Gris #2, 2011, a pair of thin metal structures that look like flimsy versions of Donald Judd sculptures sit atop a layer of hot-pink bubble wrap layered over two more tapestries creating a painterly effect. Purchased on a remote beach in northern Peru, the tapestries evoke third world artesania (handicrafts) as a political ideal of indigenous, sustainable production. These in particular, though, were mass-produced in India for a global hippie market, or what the artist terms (in an accompanying exhibition text) “Hippie-Lumpen”—a variation of the lumpen proletariat initially denigrated by Marx but subsequently celebrated by writers like Mikhail Bakunin and Frantz Fanon for its revolutionary potential. Installed in the gallery office are ten drawings from the series “22 Esquinas” (22 Corners), 2008, depicting a bohemian artist—a member of this down-and-out marginal class—as he traverses a shabby urban landscape, his figure obstructed and distorted by too many corners.

Andrade Tudela has described the conceptual tenor of his unique mixture of vernacular materials and minimal forms as a “stance against the weight of narrative in the construction of an abstract environment.” This geographically specific protest responds to the development of modern art in his native Peru, condemned to engage with history and barred from an ideal of self-referentiality. And while narratives—stories, anecdotes, and obscure cultural references—do indeed abound in Andrade Tudela’s work, they are consistently and carefully suppressed by its austere formalism.