Some glass shops specialized in armor plating services offer their customers samples of pure material. I am not talking about prototypes of car or houses shields but about a kind of mass incredibly solid and irregular: a dwarf meteorite made of glass. The surface of these samples is usually covered by long fissures and peeled-off areas; under the surface, thousands of still splinters lay like insects preserved in amber. These marks are a result of the resistance proofs undergone by glass; the record of amusing procedures such as throwing it into the void from high places or hit it with a drop hammer. In this way, sellers aim to unveil for their customers the elemental heart of the product that is being commercialized: the material reliability and its ability to fulfill the function for which it was designed, that is, in this case, to keep the illusion that nobody could ever shoot you down.
The sculptures to be seen at Protoforme are also samples of pure matter, but it is difficult to imagine in which senses they could ever become reliable. Materially speaking, they doesn´t say anything about the broad practical potential of resin. As a representation, it would be too hard to try to define the idea they intend to represent; actually, they seem quite literal, self-evident, incapable of representing anything else. As an exercise in contemporary art, they put themselves on the margin of mainstream. The apparent invariability of its look can be also questioned: they have the faculty of renewing their details independently, of altering their textures and reorganize their surfaces at any time. At the end of the day, the only certainty they bring ends up to be a requirement: to oblige the spectator to align him or herself with his o her own physical presence, to synchronize with them. Furtado´s work plasters the gap between body and mind trough a proposal of synesthetic vision, a vision that emerges from movement, something like a tactile concentration.
At Protoforme, the artist doesn´t work for the creation of an ambient; her interest is not to stipulate the conditions of the exhibition machinery. She doesn´t mediate in the relation between her sculptures and the space, neither controls the incidence of lighting upon them. She delivers them directly into the frozen waste land of the room as if they were just brought into the world, leaving them to manage by themselves in their changing and adaptation. Precisely, given an environment that is not controlled by any conceptual guideline, the circumstances in which one faces these figures get deeper; at the same time, in the spectator grows not only the need of mixing with them but also the need of constantly realize the terms in which that relationship develops. One can see one of the figures from here, for instance, and obtain a certain result, but immediately one will feel the urge of watching it from over there, from a further point of view, or even to delicately touch it to feel its rough and smooth areas. One will tend to get as close as possible so that, through this physical approach, the myriad of singularities that cover the external face of the work keeps broadening.
There is a kind of mineral called garnet and there are varieties of it of virtually every color. Green, black, orange, yellow, violet or pink garnet can be found. Some of them, like the recently discovered blue garnet, present an anomaly, a particularity in its chemical composition that makes it change colors when exposed to different kinds of light. Under a natural light beam, the chromatic range goes from blue to chestnut, going through grey, brown and several green shades. If it is exposed to a LED light, it gets pinkish. It is inert but it reacts almost like a living organism when it is stimulated in a certain way. This biological potentiality is also present in Protoforme. To be in touch with these figures for a prolonged period of time, may lead us to think about different organic processes, regulated or unconscious: the slow invigoration of the muscles, for instance, or the soft tissue that swells up with blood; the appearance of stains in the skin, the unwilling secretion of fluids or simply blushing. This biological potentiality prompt us to imagine how Protoforme` sculptures will be some time from now. Not in five years, standing in the middle of a collector`s living room, or hidden in a gallery storage room. Not even in one hundred years, when the collector dies, when whoever might be reading this dies too and galleries become something from the past. I am talking about six hundred years, a thousand years, a million, when there won´t be anybody around to relate with them ad when the impossibly gradual change that works at every moment over their figures shall transform them in something else, something unidentifiable.
Abate Gallery just opened the exhibition "Protoforme" Dolores Furtado. The suggestive abstraction of two large translucent forms that dominate the room, as the artist explains, arose spontaneously, with the expansive force of the objects themselves. "In the past my sculptures were the size of the manipulable and now confronted with the extent the body, "Furtado notes. Mild forms of transparency (or protoforms), the gummy aspect of surfaces and whitish drips falling a phallic cylinder to give you organic sculptures made rom polyester resin qualities. The forms stand as monuments of desire.
Sexuality, eroticism and organic symptoms are present in the work of several artists of recent generations. Since the eighties, the Argentine Guillermo Kuitca or brazilian Tunga, used frank references to body fluids as material for his works full of meaning.
In the text you type Alejo Ponce de León about Furtado´s sculptures explains: “as a representation, it would be too hard to try to define the idea they intend to represent; actually, they seem quite literal, self-evident, incapable of representing anything else (…)To be in touch with these figures for a prolonged period of time, may lead us to think about different organic processes, regulated or unconscious: the slow invigoration of the muscles, for instance, or the soft tissue that swells up with blood; the appearance of stains in the skin, the unwilling secretion of fluids or simply blushing”
“I have more concrete, more concrete than a truck or than an aeroplane”
Furtado´s objects have the capacity of being thought as “something that already existed”; not the representation and re-elaboration of a cultural object that moves from an historic period to another, but the presence of an intermediate state between the virgin material and the most essential manufacture.
A wall could be the exact happy medium.
Thought as sculptures, they could probably replace stone; so as stones, they could be catalogued as remains from a work of experimental archaeology.
“I am never certain of what I am going to do; it`s usually born from a material, a color, a texture and I move on from there. During the process everything can change completely, I incorporate whatever comes up. I also choose materials that particularly have a big margin of “error”, like resin and I use them in a way that little can be controlled.”
If we come close to "Menhir" and to "Amante" we can see all kinds of fissures, small transparencies and bright parts that if we compare them to a wall or a stone, we could say that Furtado has the ability of being much more delicate. Nevertheless, looking at the shapeless finish of some of her stones we could also say that she has as well the capacity of being absolutely unconsidered with the material.
An intermediate state between the most essential manufacture and a sculpture.
If they make me choose I rather find them in an initiation ritual than in a gallery.
If I can´t choose I go to see them to the museum.
Kinship is recognition of belonging and projection, regardless of whether or not the parties involved concede. It entails common ways of looking at and understanding the world. Renart, Harte, and Furtado perfectly illustrate both meanings of kinship. None of them is affected by the distance between generations; the only thing that separates the work of the first and the work of the last artist featured in this exhibition is years, half a century in all.
It is immediately apparent that they form part of the same species of artists; like demiurges, they share a restless curiosity about matter, which they demand make itself known. Rather than endowing matter with truth, they seek truth in it.
All three partake of a saga of Argentine artists—and not only visual artists—that address the present on the basis of the construction of an imaginary place. They create parallel worlds, worlds whose coordinates diverge from those established by the discourses that happen to be dominant during each one’s era. That imaginary place, that world, is inhabited by the specific concerns of each artist. Rather than dodge the customary, the commonplace, the standards of social behavior, they analyze them on the basis of a specific idea of the organic, the visceral, the cosmic, and emptiness.
All three understand matter as something alive with thought, the bearer of a cultural weight from which they cannot be pulled. This requires a deep commitment to the fragile course of existence. Evident in all life’s facets, life’s permanent and relentless need to reproduce, which foretells its limitedness, is the key to grasping that commitment, that urgency: it is in relation to that truth that they conceive their work.
Indeed, the words of the artists themselves evidence the doggedness and insistence of the research on matter and its understanding in which they engage: “The genealogy of consciousness lies in matter which, over the course of millions of years, culminates its development in man’s cerebral cortex. Due to the material origin of the brain, some of the responses of rational consciousness are instinctive, sensitive and glandular.” (1) This statement by Emilio Renart sheds light on his poetics, the importance that he places on matter and its malleability understood as builder of the universe and life, and of the subject insofar as rational and subjective. Miguel Harte shares those beliefs and formulates them on the basis of a specific understanding of the function of sexuality as means to grasp the intangible: “The holes I make may be organic or spiritual. They are, indisputably, related to the sexual. They are bodily orifices, often taken to the limit. They are also passages to somewhere else: black holes, cosmic holes, gateways. They may be connected to the orgasmic and to death. The facet of the hole that troubles me most is the sense of emptiness” (2). Regarding her intentions, Dolores Furtado says “I don’t think much about form; I try to make a hunk of something, a piece of matter, a ball. A primitive, basic form that is not overly defined; in a certain way, the shape makes no difference. I call it an approximate form…. Before gestation how does a baby grasp the world? A baby’s preverbal perception.” Furtado, then, acts as what in chemistry and physics would be called a conductor: the element that steers plasma, a state almost prior to matter whose purpose is to give matter form. In this, her stance is connected to the thinking of Renart and to Harte’s more spiritual and thanetian vision.
It would be redundant and provide no new knowledge to add anything to the thinking evident in the words of these three artists. In closing—and as a way of acknowledging the narration I have ventured—I would like to recall a fragment of an article written by Rafael Squirru in 1963 entitled “El Arte de las Cosas” (3). The article opens with a photograph of Emilio Renart’s Bio-Cosmos Nro 1, a work featured in this exhibition. It analyzes art from the early nineteen sixties, comparing its denominations. He discusses the meaning of North American Pop Art and of French object art, comparing them to production from Argentina at that time, which he calls “The Art of Things.” Regarding the latter, he says “It is doubly charged with objectivity and subjectivity. Things are outside of us yet we say that things happen to us, which means that things—the things that happen to us—are also within us.”
The exhibition Una Persistente forma de estar en el mundo addresses the enormous power of matter, form, and attitude. It formulates singularities while also pointing out the shared conceptual and formal concerns of the works included. It sheds light on a continuity of intentions and sensibilities, of ways of thinking and making art over time at this particular place, one that will undoubtedly endure in the future.
It is possible that the visitor get his or her stomach turned. But that is not going to be it. The body, that always tends to scatter, also seeks balance.
We are in the presence of three artists that represent the body, the human body as an element and as a metaphor of existence. It is not the Other's body, which can be modeled from one`s look, but one`s own body, the inner perception, what we feel with eyes closed. The emphasis is on the visceral, but again, do not expect the torn muscles of -since we talk about affiliations- Carlos Distefano, Norberto Gómez and Alberto Heredia; nor the turgidity of the Antonio Berni`s ramonas , nor the fiber of Pablo Suarez` chongos. This is a primal body, say pre-verbal. It is the drive of the flesh, of the embryo, of the cancer that ultimately will end up forming some kind of consciousness, an intellect which, by the way, is increasingly decisive in the biological building of humanity. But we don`t need to go that far.
Renart's work operates in the theoretical field, it is a manifesto that advances without brakes through disciplinary boundaries. The Bio-cosmos No. 1 (1962), emerges as a drawing -perhaps a pubis, the origin of the world- that becomes a painting and, from its material plane, jumps into space, lands its claws in the room, scans the panorama and goes for more. His breakthrough is fundamental in the history of Argentine art. The artist wonders how far a work of art can get, and the creature develops authonomsly, adrift, coming to theory from pure experience. No dalliances or speculation.
As Renart, Harte pieces are halfway between painting and sculpture. Wall sculptures, paintings that rise from the floor: clearly his forte is volume, the representation of a degenerate body that reaches moments of great joy and of course, absolute horror. Is there, by any chance, anything gloomier than the anus, the mouth of the abyssal serpent that is the digestive tract? We warned that this could be disgusting. And it is. Harte confronts us with the vertigo of a lush body, without control or censorship. He refers to the material, not so much for the matter itself (polyester resin with fiberglass and putty camouflaged with paint) as for the flowing, the constant transformation of matter. Therefore, Harte´s representation, which is clear, is also relative, when resin, so good for polychrome mimesis, shows itself as it is, translucent and divine. There are also insects, real insects, the least animal incarnation of animals, which are also expressed in their corporeality while fulfilling their interpretive role in a fiction that confuses them with pearls and fairies.
Harte does not give up the narrative, the stigma of the contemporary work of art. Although the curator Gustavo Marrone has chosen his most abstract pieces, in the selection it is still possible to see the remnants of Harte`s earlier work that alludes to pop, comic, science fiction and, why not, surrealism (Fermin Eguia could be another of his parents). Yes, a flood of references, perhaps too many; Harte, as Renart, is elusive and lush.
Furtado, no doubt, is the most placid of the three but, at the same time, no less intense. Her sculptures, which retain the pictorial pleasure of color and brightness, fail to define a form, they are just hints. The same erratic drive of her predecessors but in a calmer tempo. Definitely abstract, their protoforms allow the material to take on his own life. Matter as an entity, denied to any interpretation, to any word. But the material speaks for itself, it is inevitable. The pieces tell about their constructive origin, their course through the world, their history. They have traces of the hands that molded them, they are smashed, broken. Unlike the works that accompany them, that one day by determination of the author were ready, signed, finished, Furtado` pieces remain unfinished and will be never complete. Surely, from their being in this room, they will get scratches and yet continue to be themselves. And of course, others.
It is for this elusive attitude of constant transformation, that Marrone's work becomes relevant. It is a natural offspring that, as it usually happens in these cases, was sought. Harte recognizes Renart as one of his influences. Furtado attended Harte`s workshop. However, production of each of these artists requires a series of wide and varied readings and interpretations. Here there is no DNA test that is valid. Often on a whim one wants to establish an affiliation, name it, draw an historical line. Silence is unbearable. Naming is the human urgency. And Marrone does it tactfully, without violating the polysemy that these bodies proclaim.
The affiliation is then exercised from a double command that alternates between gratitude and independence. One kills the father while they inherit. It is the example of Renart when, holding on to informalism, he breaks with the past and gets out of it into the transformation of things, to end up proposing a comprehensive art that is the conclusion of everything. If asked who they are, Renart, Harte, Furtado don`t say anything, they answer with the body.