All posts filed under: art

Constructing modernity

Radical Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia (1874–1949) epitomised individuality in the arts. A key figure in Latin American modernism, his influence nonetheless extended much further than the continent of his birth. A number of North American artists, including Louise Bourgeois and Barnett Newman, felt his idiosyncratic influence. The artist was born in Montevideo. He left for Barcelona aged 17, where he trained as an artist. In the Catalan capital, he became active in the local artistic movement known as Noucentisme, or “Nineteen-hundreds Style.” The artists and intellectuals that worked within this movement were reacting against what they considered the aesthetic excesses of Modernisme. Noucentista art was characterized by a return to order. Its artists set out to embody the timeless values of the Mediterranean through their art, as well as revive the classical past. In the decorative arts, the values of Noucentisme were seen in an emphasis on traditional hand-craftsmanship. As one of the leading members of Noucentisme, Torres-Garcia became a well-known painter during his years in Barcelona. His first major commission was for a series …

Radical leanings

Cultural production in Eastern Europe and Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s shared certain characteristics, namely radical experimentation and a dissemination of ideas. There was also a marked scepticism towards authority, including artistic authorities and hierarchies. As such, there was an emphasis on creative production outside of the market. The parallels between cultural production in these geographically distant regions are explored in a new exhibition at New York’s MoMA. At that time, anti-art magazines circulated and radical artists operated in underground collectives that were outside of the cultural mainstream. There was a proliferation in process-directed exercises, games, gatherings, walks, alternative music, and concrete poetry. Anti-art groups sprung up, like Gorgona in Yugoslavia, Aktual in Czechoslovakia, and El techo della ballena (The Roof of the Whale) in Venezuela. A community of avant-garde artists operating in Argentina in that period is explored in some depth. The artists Oscar Bony, David Lamelas, Lea Lublin and Marta Minujín – who were all associated with the influential Instituto Torcuato Di Tella – confronted mass media communication. These politically-engaged artists …

Domestic friction: Mexican artist Pia Camil’s ‘homely’ Modernism

Mexican artist Pia Camil draws inspiration for her objects, seen in the following pages, from contemporary consumerism, incorporating signs and objects from everyday life. The artist, born in Mexico City in 1980, also reclaims abandoned structures from highways, driven by her belief in the failure of capitalism. Her wide-ranging practice, which takes in hand dyed wall hangings, ponchos and ceramic vases, often ends with the presentation of multiple objects in the same room. She also undertakes live performances that experiment with notions of domestic space. Her work appears to create a friction between domestic comfort – indicated by the ‘homely’ crafted feel of many of her ceramics and textiles – and a more hard-edged Modernism. Carry on reading about Pia Camil, and see more images of her work, in the latest issue of The Kurios. Photo: installation view: Pia Camil. Pangaea II. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London (c) Justin Piperger, 2015

Searching for the ideal: contemporary Asian art

After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art at the Singapore Art Museum explores the idea of utopia, a term originally coined by the writer Thomas More in the 16th Century to describe a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. From the Greek works for “good place” and “no place” the word refers to a place that possesses near perfect qualities. The exhibition is centred around four approaches to the idea of utopia. “Other Edens” explores how gardens are used as a symbol of the ordinary paradise to which we want to return, while “The City and its Discontents” locates our search for paradise in the contemporary worlds we inhabit. “Legacies Left” examines the ideologies that have left their mark on societies around the world in the last century. Meanwhile the final section “The Way Within” eschews grand narratives, locating the search for a utopia within the self. The image of a garden representing a utopia is seen in Geraldine Javier’s Ella Amo’ Apasionadamente y Fue Correspondida (For She Loved Fiercely, and She is …

Forgotten corners: Aida Mahmudova’s tender paintings of Azerbaijan

Aida Mahmudova’s tender paintings address memory and nostalgia. The Azeri artist, born in Baku in 1982, draws her inspiration from the landscape and architecture of her native Azerbaijan. She works across installation, sculpture and painting to capture forgotten corners of a country that is fast developing and is in danger of forgetting its past. Her work also deals with the friction between reality and fiction, and the impermanence of identity. Her sense of ephemerality can be gleaned from the gentle layering of these works. As well as being an artist, Mahmudova — a niece of the president of Azerbaijan –is an important figure in Azerbaijan’s small but growing arts scene. To continue reading, please subscribe to the September/October 2015 issue here, or by searching for The Kurios App on your mobile device.  Photo credit: Aida Mahmudova. The neighbours. 2015. Mixed media on canvas. Courtesy Leila Heller Gallery.  

A History, in objects

Captain James Cook landed on the east coast of Australia in 1770. The landmass he alighted on was larger than the continent of Europe. For the next more than one hundred years, the British would rule the land as a series of colonies, which would eventually join together to become modern-day Australia in 1901. But the country’s history goes back much further than Great Britain’s involvement. People are believed to have lived in Australia for between around 40,000–60,000 years. The first people to arrive were the Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. They came by boat from nearby islands that are now known as Indonesia. Each Aboriginal group settled in a different area of the country and had its own languages, laws and traditions. They lived in diverse environments ranging from lush rainforest and desert-like landscapes to inland rivers, islands and seas. They lived off fishing and hunting, and invented tools like the boomerang. However they never farmed. Their religion is known as the Dreaming, and art and music was important to them. The cultural habits of …

Dream or reality?

Zimbabwean-born Virginia Chihota makes highly introspective work that occupies a place between dream and reality. The quietly striking works showcased in the following pages are from her series munzwa munyama yangu (A Thorn in my Flesh). Her expressive paintings result from a mixture of screen-printing and ink on paper, and the artist has said she finds inspiration in solitude. Chihota moved to Triploli, Libya, in 2012 and has spoken of how the culturally isolated experience of living in a foreign culture has fuelled her work. Continue reading about Virginia Chihota in the July/August issue of The Kurios.  Photo: Virginia Chihota, The Root of the Flower we do not Know, screenprint on paper, 2014. Courtesy of Tiwani Contemporary.