Guillermo Kuitca - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Annina Nosei Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    For nearly thirty years, Guillermo Kuitca has redefined the landscape of Argentine visual art. As the child of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Kuitca began in the late 1980s to create his trademark artistic designs of complex maps on unorthodox mediums, most famously the surface of day-bed mattresses. Kuitca’s work tends to use displacement as a means of enlightenment, decentralizing the viewer in a sea of foreign landscapes. In turn, he feels both desolation and self-determination, for he must engage boldly with Kuitca’s unknown elements in order to regain his psychological orientation. The current lot represents the poignant evolution of Kuitca’s style; traveling from the mattress to the more conventional canvas, his wandering cartography makes art’s most perennial surface unexplorable, a dense intersection cuing us into the fact that, as viewers, we are truly lost.

    The surface of Untitled, 1989, confronts us with a territory that, in all probability, has little personal connection and even fewer possibilities for navigation. The geography in question comes from a section of South Western Belarus; however, as we investigate the intricacies of Kuitca’s canvas, covered in acrylic scrawls of highways and bisecting blue lines of minor rivers, Kuitca successfully alienates us from our familiar surroundings. The busy nature of the present lot, with its cities and geography rendered with Kuitca’s liberal size and intentionally sloppy labeling, blurs the borders between the abstract and the representational. Kuitca himself has testified that it is this component of cartography that fascinates him the most. Maps are our most eternal and most complex set of symbols, a phenomenon dating back countless eons and across every culture.

    Through his art, Guillermo Kuitca has earned a distinct honor of esteem among Latin American artists. While his early daybeds depicted a foreign journey laid out before us, as if we were flying over a strange land, they had a pliant geography in the soft down of their surfaces. The present lot, Untitled, 1989, faces us vertically, solid and uncompromising in its unfamiliar locations. It is as if Kuitca has found that the stretched and immobile medium of the upright canvas gives us a solid world of displacement, more closely resembling the one under our feet. In addition, the present lot makes the viewer privy to an intimate selection of towns and topography instead of a large and perhaps more recognizable tract of the earth’s surface. This intimacy intensifies our sense of disorientation, as we witness Kuitca zooming in on our notions of psychological displacement and situating us within a visual environment as confusing and complex as the territory it represents. Yet Kuitca’s most pointed brilliance is in unlocking our notions of relatability; gazing upon a land we have never known, we cannot help but think of the human presence perpetually upon them: “Almost always figureless, his paintings nevertheless bear an unmistakable human presence, like empty stage sets.” (J. Belcove, “Guillermo Kuitca”, W Magazine, November 2009, pp. 168-175)

  • Artist Biography

    Guillermo Kuitca

    Argentinian • 1961

    Guillermo Kuitca is an Argentinean child prodigy who held his first solo exhibition at age thirteen. He emerged as a painter during the 1980s, rejecting the neoexpressionist trend of the time. Yet his art is intellectually demanding, formally complex and relevant to the historical moment.

    Kuitca is influenced by Antoni Tápies, Francis Bacon, Jenny Holzer and Pina Bausch. His paintings denote total abstraction and deal with space, language, deat, and travel. His series of maps from the 1990s depicted on canvases and mattresses explore themes of disappearance, migration and the importance of memory. He rarely depicts humans, and his map paintings are difficult to decipher geographically, allowing viewers to meditate on the psychology of space.

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Acrylic on canvas.
19 5/8 x 15 7/8 in. (50 x 40.5 cm).

$30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for $60,000

Latin America

14 & 15 November 2011
New York