Critics’ Picks

  • Magdalena Fernández, 2i019, 2019, site-specific installation.

    Magdalena Fernández, 2i019, 2019, site-specific installation.

    Magdalena Fernández

    Museo Amparo
    Calle 2 Sur No. 708, Centro Historico
    July 13, 2019–January 3, 2020

    A visit to Magdalena Fernández’s retrospective feels like taking a quiz on modernist abstract art—her works echo that era’s compositions and motifs, summoning such icons as Malevich, Mondrian, Lygia Clark, and Gego. The pieces on display, however, which span the eleven most recent years of Fernández’s career, elude our expectations for appropriation art. Take 1iHO008. Homenaje a Hélio Oiticica (1iHO008. Homage to Hélio Oiticica), 2008, an immersive video installation in which the blue squares and rectangles from said work, projected onto all four of the gallery’s walls, slowly pace around the room’s perimeter, their intense blue hue reflecting on the spectators’ bodies. Oiticica engaged in new genres to blur the boundaries between art and its beholder; Fernández continues his quest by employing technology to fuse art and its observers into one.

    In a pitch-black room, the animated videos 1pmS015, 2015, and 1pmS011, 2011, both from the series “Pinturas móviles” (Mobile Paintings), 2003–, are displayed on two walls that meet at a ninety-degree angle, forming a diptych of sorts. The videos, which employ a vast array of intersecting straight white lines, evoke the visual language of Fernández’s Venezuelan conational Jesús Rafael Soto: 1pmS015 transitions from light to darkness, and 1pmS011, conversely, from darkness to light. Together, they suggest sunset and sunrise, due in part to their accompanying soundtracks, which feature audio from the artist’s native Caracas (insects, birds, gusts of wind). The modernist language is tainted by its declared tropical place of creation.

    On the museum’s rooftop lives 2i019, 2019, a site-specific installation in which the artist replaced some of the wooden floor’s beams with mirrors. The sky is reflected on this upper deck and continually changes throughout the day, evoking the works of James Turrell or other (male) artists affiliated with the Light and Space movement. If the repertoire of forms and gestures Fernández employs clearly nods to modern abstract art, her work’s spirit reminds me more of radical movements, like punk, that sought to liberate authorship and turn ideas into common goods.