In his latest show at Hauser & Wirth, Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca finds a dead end after years of bad attempts and one cannot but wonder whether this is it for an artist that does not seem to understand what painting stands for. Let me be more specific, after seeing this show, one has the impression that the role of painting in today’s artistic context is not even a concern for him. In this exhibition he seems to move forward on an avenue of work that proved to be commercially succesful at a point because of its kitsch qualities and that comes across as an act of desperation. In an attempt to justify the use of pigments, he delves into his so called ‘cubistoid’ style which in this context appears pointless and, again, kitsch. This style was initially developed by him for his Desenlace group of paintings, exhibited at the Argentine Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Bienale.
According to the gallery’s press release: ‘Whilst recalling an ambiguous aesthetic, Kuitca’s segmented forms and angular patterns eschew figurative references; insteady they are the organizing principle of the composition. To make them, he allowed human movement at its most elementary to choreograph the work. Pacing to and fro, he marked the canvases with short diagonal strokes as he walked, echoing a revelation he experienced at the age of 19; seeing the theatre of the avant-garde choreographer Pina Bausch in Buenos Aires, he was struck by her dictum ‘walking is enough’’. Well, not quite.
The problem with this show is that it transforms Pina Bausch’s dictum into the source of artistic value for his whole (how can we call it)…. ‘artistic project’ and the result is that the gallery space becomes a stage where the viewer walks and encounters objects (that is paintings) which function like stage-like doors and also paintings that function as theatrical-curtains. All of a sudden, the viewer enacts Pina Bausch’s dictum and unknowingly becomes ‘a dancer’. This happens because Kuitca literally transforms the gallery into a theatre of sorts that until now had been thematised in his paintings but now transforms those paintings into props or a gestalt for some kind of ‘dance’. This jump from illusionism into literalism is far too much to hold inside a theoretically serious artistic project because it happens almos fifty years after the emergence of the theatrics of minimalism. If this is supposed to thematised theatre it arrives far too late and visually it just does not work because of its tackiness. J A T