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Leon Ferrari work bought for Middlesbrough Institute of Art
Leon Ferrari, La Joven Noche (The Young Night), 2000 © Leon Ferrari. Courtesy mima.

MIDDLESBROUGH.- La Joven Noche, a braille-on-ink work by Latin American artist Leon Ferrari, has been bought by the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art with support from the Art Fund.

Leon Ferrari, who died last year, was one of the most significant Latin American artists of the 20th century. He was one of the leaders of the international Conceptual Art movement, working in a wide range of media to create works that often explored Catholic imagery. He won the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, and his work has been collected by institutions ranging from Tate to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

La Joven Noche

Now the holy waters of the night absolve me,
Of the many colours and the many forms.
Now the birds in the garden and the stars celebrate,
The longed-for return of the old ways,
Of sleep and shadow. The darkness has sealed
The mirrors that made copies of fictions.
Goethe put it better: everything near grows far.
Those four words capture the twilight's fullness.
In the garden, the roses stop being roses,
And want to be the Rose.

Ferrari created La Joven Noche (The Young Night) in 2000, as part of his Brailles series, a number of works initially inspired by the love poetry Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who was blind from the age of 55. Ferrari presented Borges's love poetry in braille overlaid on images of nude women, so that viewers would have to 'caress the woman in order to read what the poem says'.

La Joven Noche was inspired by Borges's poem of the same name, written a year before his death, in which the writer describes coming to terms with his blindness. The poem is overlaid in both braille and calligraphy, recalling Ferrari's earlier calligraphic works.

Mima is home to one of the country's leading collections of contemporary drawing, developed through its involvement with the Contemporary Art Society's Special Collections Scheme and Art Fund International. The focus on drawing grew out of the success of the Cleveland International Drawing Biennial, which was held in Middlesbrough from 1973 to 1996.

Alistair Hudson, director of mima, said: 'The collection continues to expand the definition of drawing, avoiding traditional drawing materials or methods. Drawing’s current resurrection and its ever-expanding parameters are key themes that have guided our collecting, and this acquisition continues our growing ambitions for the collection. I am looking forward to sharing it with the community as part of the exciting plans to develop mima.'

La Joven Noche will go on display from March 2015 as part of mima's new permanent collections space.

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