New York

Guillermo Kuitca

Annina Nosei Gallery

Argentina’s relative political stability during the late ’80s has occasioned a return to painting as a means of personal as well as political expression. Guillermo Kuitca is a member of this new generation, yet his penchant for choreographing fiction and metaphor, apparent in his New York debut, harks back to the theatrical experiments that established the New Figuration artists of the ’60s as a force of radical dissent in the face of a series of oppressive dictatorships.

Kuitca presents two motifs—the map and the single-family apartment plan—in a variety of formal and metaphorical contexts. The artist seems preoccupied with the acts of placing or locating himself, and these paintings may be seen as an attempt to mediate self and world through the repetitive evocation of symbols of placement and grounding.

In what seems like a nod to the readymade, Kuitca paints maps directly onto upholstered mattresses. In The River (all works 1989), the artist charts the flow of the Rhine onto a blue mattress with pins. In Untitled Routes, a triptych of mattresses presents different maps of the two Germanies and surrounding countries. Less readymades than icons of placement, overdetermined with personal and political meanings, the mattresses offer a possible commentary on totalitarian government via that most immediate symbol of personal grounding—the bed. Like the maps, Kuitca’s repetition of the single-family apartment unit in diagram form and, in some cases, as more detailed aerial renderings, continues his investigation of self-placement. These plans are not without political implications. In Plan With Teardrops, a diagram of the apartment unit dotted with luminescent tears emerges from a dark background. Strange Fruit presents a sketchily painted version of the same diagram, overlaid with images of hanged figures. In both paintings, the home is a place for mourning—Both bring to mind Argentina’s desaparecidos, the people who have “disappeared” under brutal military regimes in the last several decades.

The repetition of the floor plan on murky, misty surfaces lends these paintings a spiritual, votive quality. This is especially true of Idea de una Passion (Idea of a passion), in which the canvas itself is constructed in the plan’s shape and segmented into panels inscribed with miniature versions of the same diagram. Most of the paintings in this series are dark, but inevitably each contains one or several areas of light that emerge like beacons in the search that is underway here.

Kuitca brings together the activities of mapping and planning with the act of painting. For him, these endeavors are inseparable and his efforts reaffirm painting as a viable arena for self-discovery.

Jenifer P. Borum