A moon—crying, singing, yawning?—the darkened figures of humans at night and a muted Christ-like face are the few visual clues that Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca offers at Mayfair’s Hauser & Wirth, that might help the viewer to root out any reality in his obscure world. Having just returned from the South American country ourselves, Elephant enjoyed a fair few signs of his homeland.
Kuitca’s works are velvety in their intensity; layers of black, deep blue and grey punctured by the odd colourful tone which, very occasionally, teeters upon flooding the full canvas. Within this rich darkness, light is highly important, and the artist’s observation of light, luminous even when depicted in the moodiest of shades, is a long-practiced element of his work.
The cubistoid paintings slide between abstraction and figuration. Stooped and huddled figures are common against the bolder faces that emerge as larger icons, such as the aforementioned moon and suggested Christ. Alongside this, there is a constant play with line and plane, at times angular and mathematical, at others softer, almost blending in entirely. Slices of paint jut and jar into one another, in a manner which seesaws too between aggressive and dreamy.
This style gives Kuitca away as the physical painter that he is, creating much of the shape and form within his work from his own pacing movement up and down the canvas, in an echo of one of his early influencers, Pina Bausch, the avant-garde choreographer. His canvasses can border on the enormous, his Untitled (Exodus) (2015) here measuring over six metres.
Though a one-size-fits-all approach can be dangerous when discussing an entire art scene, Elephant couldn’t help but revel in some of the similarities we spotted in Kuitca’s fellow Argentine artists’ work, after a refreshing dip into arteBA last week, where the hands-on nature of painting and sculpture was a focal point of much of the work we encountered, and greys, black and earth tones dominated precise but spirited works.
‘Guillermo Kuitca’ is showing at Hauser & Wirth, Mayfair until 30 July