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Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection on View in Long Beach
Leo Matiz, Estructura de Petróleo, Colombia, 1950. Vintage gelatin-silver print, Courtesy The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. Photo: Oriol Tarridas.
LONG BEACH, CA.- The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) presents Sites of Latin American Abstraction: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection which inaugurates the Museum’s 2009 – 2010 schedule which will offer Southern California audiences new and inspiring aesthetic experiences. The Sites of Latin American Abstraction opens on November 8, 2009 and will remain on view through January 24, 2010. The exhibition proposes a fresh approach to the Latin American tradition of geometric abstract art produced between the decades of the 1930s and the 1970s.

The visually engaging display of 200 works, from intimate drawings to black and white modernist photography to paintings and mechanized constructions, embrace a collection of modern works by 81 Latin American artists such as Joaquín Torres-García, Jesús Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gego, Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Mira Schendel, Julio Le Parc, Alejandro Otero and Carlos Rojas. They created within and outside of the historical art movements defined as Constructive Universalism (1930-50), the Madí Group (1940s), Perspectivism (late 1940s), Optical and Kinetic art (1950s-1970s) and Concrete and Neo- Concrete art (1960s-1970s), among others. The pursuit of geometric abstraction by these artists coincided with Latin America’s mid-20th century shift towards modernity, industrialization, urban development and a renewed cultural identity.

Exhibition curator Juan Ledezma proposes an unorthodox and innovative approach to the reading of this history, organized according to a conceptual and aesthetic structure and visual balance of sites, locales or focuses. The viewer is given the opportunity to appreciate an abstract aesthetic which spans from traditional forms of media (painting, sculpture and drawing) to public spaces, established by the axis of locating the grid, writing and the city as sites where the art and its place of creation is conceptually considered as an interaction between the concrete (city, urban or industrial) and the abstract (line, plane, rhythm, movement and mechanization). The reference to the city is amplified by the novel inclusion of photography, grounding the abstract aesthetic to the concrete sites where artists and ideas converge.

Ledezma’s curatorial perspective allows a much broader connection between well known masters and newly recognized or lesser known artists and photographers who were active in the artistic centers of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela. The expansive scope offers a fluid and amplified intersection between artists and works, inspiring a sophisticated vista of the artist’s engineered visual aesthetic – one that engaged the viewer’s participation in a new way. Throughout the exhibition’s various sections, the juxtapositions of works explore the use of the grid and tonality, writing and language, line and plane, rhythm and shadow, movement and mechanization revealed in the various art forms.

To cite a few examples of the exhibition’s format, a selection of paintings and photograms by Geraldo de Barros (Brazil, 1923-1998) pose vigorously composed geometric representations of domestic objects, industrial buildings and technical processes in concert with paintings by Alejandro Otero (Venezuela, 1921-1990) and Waldemar Cordeiro (Brazil, 1925-1973), whose use of line and plane generate a rhythmic force that, according to Otero, expand the pictorial landscape beyond the frame and push out into the public sphere. Hélio Oiticica’s (Brazil, 1937-1980) gouache on paper of a grid pattern references the city structure, pulling it into the confined framework of the picture, while the large scale of Gego’s (Germany 1912 1994, worked in Venezuela) suspended sculpture, titled Reticulárea Cuadrada (Square Grid) expands the structural form beyond itself. Kinetic structures by Julio Le Parc (Argentina, 1928) and Abraham Palatnik (Brazil,1928) redefine the concepts of collective interaction, inviting the viewer to participate in the operation of the pieces. A black-and-white film by Carlos Cruz-Diez of Gego’s work demonstrates how the formal dynamism of the constructed object could be used in the perceptual reorganization of space itself.

The Museum of Latin American Art | Latin American Abstraction | Joaquín Torres-García | Jesús Soto | Juan Ledezma |


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