Critics’ Picks

Guillermo Kuitca, Le Sacre, 1992, acrylic on fifty-four mattresses, 47 1/4 x 23 5/8 x 7 7/8" each.

Guillermo Kuitca, Le Sacre, 1992, acrylic on fifty-four mattresses, 47 1/4 x 23 5/8 x 7 7/8" each.

New York

Guillermo Kuitca

Sperone Westwater
257 Bowery
September 22–November 6, 2010

Guillermo Kuitca revisits his repertoire of abstract architectural motifs in recent paintings that inaugurate the new multifloor Sperone Westwater gallery space on the Bowery. Gray prisms cut across an opaque dark background punctuated by hints of color in the large-scale Untitled, 2009. In Philosophy for Princes IV, 2009, spindly silver thorns that resemble barbed wire huddle atop thin lines suggestive of a blueprint. These two elements— thick gray angles and a tangle of spiky, slate-colored lines—compete for space in Philosophy for Princes III, 2009, with neither element fully dominating the canvas. In Untitled, 2008, hung on the third floor, Kuitca interrupts his somber palette with bright red swaths, which give movement and urgency to the recurring wiry brambles.

While the new space and the paintings work to mutually showcase each other, the building overtakes the art in the “moving room,” wherein Kuitca’s Le Sacre, 1992, is on view. Previously installed on floors and walls in various arrangements, the fifty-four children’s mattresses here pad the three walls of this elevator-like enclosure, whose mechanized movement between floors limits the viewing time for a piece that invites immersion. The mattresses themselves appear charred—soaked in gray pigment and painted with maps of places like Birmingham, Medellín, Maastricht, and Kabul—their original flower and animal prints and sunken buttons texturing the red, black, and green lines of the maps.

Kuitca returns to his cartographic motif in two large paintings from 2008: These splinter his source images into shards until the letters and numbers are illegible and the maps themselves become another terrain for Kuitca to deconstruct and repurpose.