It is summer and a lot of things are shut down or just not running full-throttle, specifically the art world. I wonder, though: has the art world just hit pause or does it not really exist? My new friend Ian maintains that the artists fled the city during the 2001 crisis, but are starting to trickle back in. Space itself isn’t so cheap here, though, so I wonder if Ian is right. There are a lot of beautiful, empty, raw gallery-esque storefronts, garages, and entryways that would make ideal alternative spaces and small galleries,– and they must be cheap– but no one seems to be doing anything with them. Maybe they will. It is a little disappointing to see potential but feel no energy. But then again, its summer, so who knows.
There is some great, weird graffiti though, click on the thumbnails because its important to see the details:
Over the past month I visited a couple of the “it”-galleries suggested by TimeOut and the like. Only a few were open, but at best they reminded me of the lesser boxes inside a building like 526 West 26th. They might be okay, but they don’t hold your attention for long. One of them was Braga Menendez which is huge and seemed to have a nice program but the current show of three different artists having nothing visible or conceptual in common was just a little confusing. Daniela Luna’s gallery, Appetite, has gotten a bit of attention for being edgy, but it was closed both times I tried, and when I pressed my nose against the glass the show there seemed like the aftermath of a party crossed with a flea market. Maybe its just the summer though.
MALBA is a lovely contemporary museum but not a tremendous amount of originality inside– read: a lot of the seems to mimic European and American trends in pop, mimimalism and conceptualism, but what can we expect? Artists everywhere were interpreting postmodernism for themselves, so it is to be expected, but still isn’t very interesting. I really liked a couple of paintings though. They were by Emilio Pettoruti (b. 1892) painted later in his life. Abstract/cubist paintings, really strong color.
At the Belles Artes Museum I was taken by some turn of the century oil works by Argentine painters. I really, really loved the small corner full of grouchy, visceral gaucho portraits by Cesareo Bernaldo de Quiros, like this one and others depicting guys on horses drinking maté and hauling the game home. The compositions are honest and dramatic, and the painting ugly in a Flemishy brown way.
Some others: Candido López, who was also a soldier, painted eerie atmospheric pictures of military camps reminiscent seen from above and afar. They are very pretty and a little weird. Reynaldo Giudici (I actually wrote his name down twice in my notes without realizing it) paints great canvases of people eating food! La Sopa de los Pobres (1884) and Subiendo la Cuesta (1883) were my two favorites. If I had the patience to do large canvases in oil, I’d want to paint like this.
The Fundación Proa was a lovely space in La Boca with a very academic survey of Marcel Duchamp, beautifully installed but really text-booky. However, when you’re bored, you can just look out the window:
So does Buenos Aires fail as “the other city?” Maybe, maybe not. I think there is definitely the space, the grit, and the potential to be great place for artists, so I will have to come back again when its not summer and re-evaluate.