Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MUDO Mauro Koliva

Mauro Koliva
Proyecto: la linea piensa
Centro Cultural Borges
March 5 to March 29, 2009

Mauro Koliva's latest exhibition at Centro Cultural Borges, consisting of about thirty drawings in colored ballpoint pen on paper, is a revelation of sorts; a revelation of the ordinary, the overlooked, the seemingly meaningless - but not of the obvious. The drawings in these three series, el objeto mudo, el objeto salvaje, and el objeto irresponsable(s), look like sculptures, objects made of wood, twine, fur, also leftover mattresses, couches, boxes, assorted odds and ends. Initally, Native American or Indio imagery comes to mind; but in that case the objects are supremely utile. All the same there is a warmth, a veracity, an organic connection to our illogical world, perhaps a mirroring of it. These objects really are thoughts, ways of looking at the world, ways that are silly, that are necessary, that emanate from the spirit (as artists keep the spirit alive, it's become their job). Exuding a similar strangeness in the ordinary that the musical group DEVO once uncovered, the works resonate with the inner reality, so often completely at odds with the outer reality: a collection of things with meaning added. The world the artist inherits makes no sense to him, so he needs to create things, to disarrange things; he makes a "real" world to suit his inner reality.

Each of the series fulfills a subtly different function for the artist and the viewer. Mudos: that which can't be put into words but which yearns to speak. The repressed or inexpressible active, as opposed to the "passive" Irresponsables; an astonishing way station between being and doing. Salvajes: that which doesn't want to be put into words, existing quite happily (or angrily, in some cases) beyond our boundaries; energies destined to live on in their own manner. Irresponsables: age-old superior objects of "spiritual use" (though inutil or irresponsable for most purposes), most effective in their way as simple declarations of munificent being.

Mr. Koliva has an extraordinary talent, beyond his precocious ability to draw: he makes everything look old using only lines (and a few dots) on a white backround. There are dark clots of color where the lines collect, aiding the "old photograph" quality of the drawings; but there is a palpable, almost supernal "glow" here, absent from photographs, present in memory. These are “drawings” in both senses of the word because the objects acquire significance from us as we look, accrue or grow meaning, drawing out from us our own interior mythologies and histories. You have to see this for yourself to understand it. We can invest our whole selves into this work, which just might be the defining quality of fine art.

Without going into details of specific images, I can say that if you want your senses refreshed, and your curiosity stimulated, you should take advantage of the chance to see this show. One of the better shows of drawings I've seen (another was Juan Martin Juares at Braga Menendez) and very enjoyable even if you generally "don't like art." As if. Make your way there and come back amazed, and renewed; you'll forget all about the heat, the crowds, and the Subte.

Nick Thabit
Bs As 3/2009

Monday, March 16, 2009


Nora Iniesta
Mercedes Pinto Galeria de Arte
13-27 February 2009 - extended

In this latest exhibiton, Iniesta celebrates Love, Love, Love. Or so it would seem, from these (at first glance) naive looking constructions, collages, and readymades. But look again, and a virulently discerning intelligence is in full evidence, laying bare the constructs of the collective sur-consciousness. The addictive depravity of our populist amelioration of love into a heartsick sugar-sirupy toothache is highlighted by the act of repetition: one fuzzy bear with a pillow bearing the words, 'te amo' we can internalize, but two? never mind.

There are two corazones, one for our hero, a singer of popular songs, and one for Her, our favorite actress, living the love we all want. These corazones promise perfect people, a good life, travel, fame, added saintliness, and love, love, love: all the things we want. Hook up with the right person and it´s all yours, they seem to say. But can we find that person? That´s the game; that´s the story of...
It´s intersting to note the surface naivety of these works, and my sense of dread (not knowing who Iniesta was) at approaching the window and seeing “another housewive´s fancies...” By reflecting those fancies with awareness, and I think, compassion she throws light on the hopelessness of our celebrity worship, yet without destroying the sheer magnificence of those public lives.

Then there are the altered dinner place settings, three laterally, the central one a "tropical" nightmare of love, love, love, all lushly colored beads, baubles, and games of chance; the two at the side more pristine, white, "pure." But that's the trap: they draw you into the center, the heart of darkness where the jungle reigns supreme, the fever dream rules all, and engorgement leads to utter moral turbidity and chaos. Yet one wonders if it is inevitable after all.

Although not directly related to Saint Valentine, the horizontal collages included are again an attempt to make sense of the chaotic multiple levels of perception/reception we are bombarded with daily. Our sense of self and reality is so compressed and mediated by outside commercialized content that we can at times wonder what to feel, and if what we do feel is authentic. Iniesta dares to confront the babble of voices and identities by mirroring it, accepting both the outside and inside cacophany of internalized wish, received opinion, ersatz fact. The densely packed melange of comic strip and hand-drawn advertisement faces make for a trip to the lucha libre of the inner world, actually an enjoyable sort of frenzy of cognition, mentation, and self-ideation; but that's the nature of realization: know the truth and it will set you free.

Within limited means, Iniesta says much about our contemporary faces, and makes her point with elan. There is a somewhat timeless quality about these works even though they engage the late 20th and early 21st century, a sense that we know all this already and only need to be reminded gently, humorously, and pointedly. Iniesta's surreallity can make you feel better for all the right reasons.

Nick Thabit
Bs As, Marzo 2009

NOEsis o NOEmas? Luis Felipe Noe

NOEsis o NOEmas?
Luis Felipe Noe
Galeria Rubbers Internacional
November 12-31, 2008

NOEsis o NOEmas?, the latest solo exhibition by Luis Felipe Noe, is a persistent confrontation, no matter how rapturous the experience. Comprised of works on canvas and paper that obscure the boundaries between drawing and painting, Noe willfully pushes us away from our received "sanity" to make us recognize the images in our mind, images that we don't control, that we don't want to see; images that speak the truth as it appears to us. He urges us to feel, feel, feel, where we would prefer to think; to pass out with our mouths open, blabbering about what we know not. Despite the opulent beauty of some works, we are urged to go inside, not to fetishize, to ornament our life with his art.
This is the work of a man with a mission.

From the first look, the bold color and strong line which attract us are precisely the means by which we are repelled; these are almost anti-paintings, and are meant to guide us to our own internal "paintings." "Paisage en el Limite" uses violet in a most unusual way, almost as an anticolor; the landscape may be seen as our own interior terrain and is situated at the limit of our rationality, the beginning of our mystery.

I have to steel myself not to be swayed, entirely seduced by the luxurious color in "Crimen de la Noche Suburbana," and by the form, the slipstream (sleepstream) of night and light. But in the end I am helpless, I give in to this formless picture to experience its joys and its grave repentance. "Menage A Trois' " spirit lines against a dark ground foster investigation into the limits of our personal histories' importance. And "La Investigacion" propels us forward into the future of mass immunity, trial (and punishment?) by television.

There are too many important works to go into them all here, yet Noe consistently manages to pull it off without drawing too much attention to his impeccable technique. He is confident enough to leave us with suggestion and inference where other artists would push us into detail and color. We can lose ourselves in these pictures if we desire, without thinking of the author; enough said. Of course, I can't neglect to mention here the masterpiece, "El Tiempo Vuela," a large format mixed-media that looks like a multi-dimensional blueprint for a mysterious city, a city that vanishes in the light of morning. This deeply engaging picture displays the many possibilities of "art" in the hands of a truly committed professional; suggesting both ephemerality yet attachment; impermanence, illusion yet fascination (and much more).

Argentina is fortunate to have such an artist working at full strength contemporaneously with younger artists, providing inspiration, guidance, and most importantly, a strong example of all the qualities and exertions necessary for the full realization of art.

Nick Thabit
Bs As Noviembre 2008