Categories: Cathy Breslaw, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: Guillermo Kuitca

Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

Guillermo Kuitca, The Family Idiot 2019 Oil on canvas in artist frame 
92.5 x 186 cm / 36 3/8 x 73 1/4 in Triptych: 92.5 x 186 cm / 36 3/8 x 73 1/4 in overall©
Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & WirthPhoto: Gonzalo Maggi

On view through August 11, 2019

Article by Cathy Breslaw

May 18, 2019

Guillermo Kuitca’s paintings, works on paper, and sculpture encompass both public and private psychic spaces. Architecture, blueprints, theater seating charts and maps are the structural forms from which he creates his works. In his first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, Kuitca presents several distinct types of work. The Family Idiot (2018-2019) series are a group of oils on canvas that are framed in wood – some are diptychs and triptychs which sit on an eye-level table while others hang on the wall. A combination of abstraction and figuration, these works are mostly darkened tonated reds, grays, and black – the paintings take us into parts of rooms and places with no reference points. They feel like dislocated personal psychological dream-spaces which are both haunting and beautiful and where the imagery can be difficult to discern. At times it seems we are peering into windows as voyeurs and viewing intimate and unclear experiences at a distance.

The smaller mixed media works on paper are untitled but refer to specific performance halls around the world – Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, Palais Garnier, Sydney Opera House, Oslo Opera House and others. Kuitca manipulates these seating charts to distort, meld and collapse physical spaces and as in his paintings, these works can be disorienting – contrary to the usual focus on a theater’s stage, the main event is the distortions of the empty seats identified by seat numbers. Each of these multi-colored strongly hued works take on a different character and are at times, more like drawings than paintings. Some retain their chart-like structure while others are fuzzy explosions of colors with shapeless forms that twist, bend and drip.

A recent body of work Missing Pages (2018), is a series of 18 canvases linked together in a grid pattern, taking its structure from the layout of a printer’s proof. The imagery in these oil paintings contain both figurative and geometric shapes, where connections to one another can be simultaneously both identifiable as well as confusing.

Retablo (2016) is an installation work which is accessed up a set of stairs into a darkened unfinished gallery space. Lit from within, this free-standing large oil painting on wooden panels references Cubism in its geometric divisions of carved up spaces and its neutralized dark greens, browns, reds, and grays. Set inside a large vertical deep wooden box, it appears as a stage, or backdrop. Altar-like in its lighted inner space, there is a brown road painted in the center leading into the narrowing distance to a seemingly imaginary place.

Kuitca who lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina uses his experiences with theater, philosophy and literature to create paintings, mixed media works, installation and sculpture that take viewers out of their comfort zone, and disrupts and challenges us to question where we are in space and time.

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