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Monday, June 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

For whom the bed tolls

On Friday, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery premiered an exhibition on the works of Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca. Spanning 28 years, Kuitca's career showcases an acute sense of the great philosophical and physical action that is art.
'Kuitca likes to explore the dynamics of space,' said Douglas Dreishpoon, chief curator at the Albright-Knox. 'He finds space an active component of our lives and something that we take for granted.'
The exhibit, roughly three-and-a-half years in the making, was painstakingly organized by Dreishpoon. It contains more than 50 paintings and 25 drawings, and has works that have been imported from all over the world, including London, Puerto Rico, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and New York.
Maria Morreale, director of public relations and marketing, is ecstatic about the new exhibit.
'We are quite lucky to have this,' said Morreale. 'We deeply appreciate Kuitca's work and have been adamant in bringing them here.'
Kuitca, born in Argentina in 1961, has been drawing and painting since he was six. He had his first gallery exhibition when he was 13 years old and became an internationally known artist in his early twenties. His works have been displayed in prestigious art galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Tate in Great Britain.
Kuitca's artwork focuses on public and private interactions, emotional drama, political and social systems, and the exploration of space. Morreale describes his work as 'visual poetry.'
'He likes to use metaphoric and symbolic images,' Morreale said. 'There's a message of human interaction and dislocation in his work.'
Kuitca, who was present at the opening, was amiable and very straightforward when discussing his work. He describes his approach to art as a point-of-view oriented process.
'Without the point of view, you can't make art,' Kuitca said. 'My point of view is hard to describe. I would say that it's a physical reaction. Art is essentially a physical action.'
He considers art to be more physical than cerebral. He brushed aside idealism when asked about the philosophy of art, describing it as a 'fake equation.'
However, Kuitca still believes that emotional contradictions are what his work is about.
'I like to shift the scale,' Kuitca said. 'There are active emotions, opposites, and contradictions present in my work.'
In terms of space, he differentiates between the presence and absence of matter. The contrast of the two fuels his ideas, particularly his depictions of humans. He has not drawn human figures for nearly 20 years, claiming that he is more interested in the remnants that humans leave. Indeed, the two most prominent objects in his works are beds and maps.
'The bed contains an incredible amount of the human condition,' Kuitca said. 'Some of the most important human experiences occur on the bed, including life, death, dreams, lovemaking and sickness. It is simple, but rich with experience.'
Not only does he draw and paint beds, he uses them as materials. At least five of his works, including 'Heaven' (1992), have used bed mattresses as the surface material (which he claims are not much different than canvases).
In addition to mattresses and canvases, Kuitca also likes paper. He uses mixed media such as graphite and pastel in his work. Paper, for him, has a certain vitality not found in anything else.
'Paper always has charisma,' he said. 'It is much different than canvas and I like to explore ways on how to make paper drawings.'
The gallery also displays works that portray conveyor belts, architecture, literature, music, politics (particularly the politics of the Argentine military dictatorship in the early 1980s) and society.
Kuitca can turn images such as beds on fire and overturned chairs into abstract works of art. For that, the Albright-Knox is astounded and grateful to have the exhibit.
'His works contain metaphors for a lot of things,' said Dreishpoon. 'His works are poignant and pregnant with meaning.'
The exhibition will be on view until May 30. Visit www.albrightknox.org for more information.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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