Cecilia De Torres Ltd - Abstracting Gender, Seven Latin American Women Artists


Abstracting Gender, Seven Latin American Women Artists 2018 Winter-Spring

Abstracting Gender, Seven Latin American Women Artists

February 15 - April 7, 2018

In recent months, there have been countless stories of sexual misconduct and harassment, with hundreds of women courageously coming forward and inspiring the #metoo movement, among others.  The art world is also confronting these issues.  It is no surprise that women artists have struggled to receive the credit and recognition they deserve, allowing their art to speak for itself without gender barriers.
In every art historical movement engaging with Abstraction, female artists have been at the forefront, side by side with men, yet our cultural institutions have canonized the latter, causing a great number of women to be forgotten or left in the shadows.  Even after the gender issue in the arts began to be addressed by the feminist movement after 1968, many women artists were not given the chance to prove their creative worth.

At Cecilia de Torres, Ltd. our team is comprised mostly of women, and we feel it especially important to participate in the conversation bridging the gender gap by showcasing a selection of works by seven Latin American women artists working within the field of Abstraction: Inés Bancalari, Lidya Buzio, Marta Chilindron, María Freire, Gego, Sarah Grilo, and Amalia Nieto. 

These artists are prime examples of women working within modern and contemporary art, without being limited by gender boundaries.  Their rich, bold and creatively independent artwork showcases each artist’s unique engagement with Abstraction.

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Inés Bancalari

b. 1946 Buenos Aires, Argentina - lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Drawing inspiration from diverse sources ranging from the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral to Andean textiles, Inés Bancalari's artistic background is truly international. 

The artist graduated as valedictorian with a professor's degree in painting from the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredón in Buenos Aires, and studied under Aurelio Macchi and Luis Barragán.  She also worked with Robert Beverly Hale and Frank Mason at the Art Students League in New York.  Her extensive travels and experiences have profoundly impacted her approach to art.

Although Bancalari's early works were primarily representational, her career shifted towards abstraction in the 1980s.  For almost two decades, the color red dominated her brightly colored geometric canvases and collages, however, in recent years she has begun to work in soft pastels.  These new large scale works seem to evoke textiles through their layered planes of superimposed colors.

Artworks by Bancalari have been featured in group and solo exhibitions in the Americas as well as in Europe.  In addition to pursuing her own artistic career, for many years Bancalari has also taught art from her studio in Buenos Aires. 

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Lidya Buzio

b. 1948, Montevideo, Uruguay -  d. 2014, Greenport, New York

A unique talent in the world of ceramics, Buzio learned to create, form, and shape clay sculptures from the master ceramicist José Collell, based on ancient Amerindian practices.  Buzio continued to work within this same method, cutting earthenware slabs into geometric shapes, and then combining these cylinders, cones, and hemispheres to form the body of her sculptures.  Using special pigments which she mixed herself, the artist drew and painted directly onto her unfired works.  Before firing, Buzio burnished her pieces; this step serves to fuse the paint into the clay and results in the unique luminosity and distinctive hues that characterize her artworks. 

After moving to New York in the early 70s', Buzio's pictorial vocabulary shifted to reflect her new urban surroundings, inspiring her to create her New York Cityscapes, with their evocative rooflines, cast iron architecture, and water towers.  Her last series of abstract geometric designs executed in bright primary colors, represented a new direction in her practice. 

Buzio's ceramics are found in the Brooklyn Museum New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; the Honolulu Academy of Art, Hawaii; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the National Museum of History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.  Buzio’s work is also included in several other international museums and private collections.

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María Freire

b. 1917, Montevideo, Uruguay - d. 2015, Montevideo, Uruguay

María Freire is one of the Southern Cone's most productive and engaged, if also one of the least-known, artists working in the Constructivist tradition. Freire trained at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Montevideo from 1938 to 1943, studying under José Cuneo and Severino Pose and at the Universidad del Trabajo under Antonio Pose. Her first sculptures indicate the profound influence of African art on her work, something of an anomaly for an artist in South America at that time. In the early 1950s, after meeting her future husband, the artist José Pedro Costigliolo, her art became more influenced by European non-figurative art, such as Art Concret group, Georges Vantongerloo, and Max Bill. In 1952 she co-founded the Arte No-Figurativo group with Costigliolo in Montevideo, and exhibited with them in 1952 and 1953. Freire exhibited regularly in the National Salons from 1953 to 1972.  In 1953 Freire and Costigliolo were invited to the 2nd Sao Paulo Biennial, where they came into contact with Brazil's enthusiasm for geometric abstraction. In 1957 Freire and Costigliolo won the “Gallinal” travel grant which they used to live and study in Paris and Amsterdam, and to travel throughout Europe until 1960, meeting many of the historical pioneers of abstract art, including Antoine Pevsner and Georges Vantongerloo. In 1959 they exhibited in Brussels, at the Galerie Contemporain. She was invited again to the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1957 and the XXXIII Venice Biennale in 1966.

Freire developed her work within a strict, yet variable formal vocabulary, often switching between periods of greater or lesser degrees of abstraction.  Her series Sudamérica, worked on from 1958 to 1960, employed cut planes and polygonal forms in a reduced palette. Freire taught drawing in an Architecture Prep School and wrote art criticism for the journal “Acción” from 1962 to 1973.  Around 1960, she began to experiment with looser forms of abstraction, and a more expressive range of colors, resulting in her series Capricorn and Cordoba, 1965-1975, and later on she would create volumetric disturbances by dividing the surface with repeated forms or by creating chromatic modulation sequences in her series Variantes y Vibrantes, 1975-1985. In 2000, she began to produce large-scale public sculpture in Uruguay. 

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Marta Chilindron

b. 1951, La Plata, Argentina – lives in New York City since 1969

From her early veristic paintings to her contemporary sculptural installations, Marta Chilindron creates art that explores perspectival, temporal, and spatial relationships. In the 1990s, Chilindron began experimenting with furniture forms, altering their shapes to reflect her point of view in relation to physical space. In 1998, the artist began making collapsible, geometric sculptures in transparent colored acrylics, using hinges to allow movement. These pieces invite the viewer to participate, manipulate, and alter their shapes.

In 2010, Chilindron was invited to create a public installation as part of the Fokus Lodz Biennale in Poland, and her sculptures were featured as a special project at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California in 2013. The artist had a retrospective exhibition at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts in 2014, and at Point of Contact Gallery at Syracuse University in 2018. She was also invited by El Museo del Barrio to be part of their "Diálogos" section at New York’s 2019 Frieze Art Fair. Chilindron has recently completed a large-scale sculpture titled Houston Mobius commissioned by the University of Houston for the inauguration of their Temporary Public Art Program.

Chilindron's artworks are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; the Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; El Museo del Barrio, NYC; the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL; the State University of New York (SUNY), Old Westbury, NY; the Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève (FMAC), Switzerland; the IBEU Cultural Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as numerous renowned private collections.

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Sarah Grilo

b. 1919, Buenos Aires, Argentina - d. 2007, Madrid, Spain

Sarah Grilo began her early studies in figurative painting with the renowned Spanish artist, Vicente Puig. Grilo subsequently lived in Spain and France from 1948 to 1950 before returning to Argentina. Two years later, she formed part of the “Grupo de Artistas Modernos de la Argentina” created by the Argentine poet, essayist, and art critic, Aldo Pellegrini. This school of Concrete artists included Enio Iommi, Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito, Lidy Prati, and José Antonio Fernández-Muro, amongst others. The group held exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 1956, Grilo was part of the envoy to the Venice Biennial. A year later, she and her husband, the artist José Antonio Fernández-Muro, moved to Paris where they lived for the following four years.

Upon Grilo’s return to her native Argentina in 1961, the artist was awarded a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship which brought her to New York City in 1962, where she would remain for the next eight years. It was at this time that the artist broke from Concrete abstraction and began incorporating urban references in her work such as pieces and traces of letters, numbers, signs, and symbols in various fonts and typographies. Grilo’s formal appropriations during the 1960s anticipated that of graffiti artists. Her highly lyrical compositions and acute sensibility to color continued to define Grilo’s work over the course of the remaining decades.

In 1970, the artist left New York City with her husband and their two children, alternating between living in Paris and Madrid before moving to Spain permanently in 1985 for the remainder of her life.

Sarah Grilo’s work can be found in a number of prestigious collections and has been exhibited in various institutions, including: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York  The Nelson Rockefeller Collection, New York; The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C.; the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Stedelijk Museum of Art, Amsterdam; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, amongst others. Most recently, Grilo’s work was shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) groundbreaking 2017 exhibition, Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction.

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