"A persistent way of being in the world", by Gustavo Marrone


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.