Julio Alpuy - Works of Wood and Drawings 1960s-2003
This is our third exhibition of Alpuy’s work and celebrates the gallery’s ten years of presenting Constructivist and geometric abstract art from Latin America.
We are very pleased that this presentation of Alpuy’s woods has been curated by José Roca, the talented curator at the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango of the Banco de la República in Bogotá. In 2002, Roca was invited to New York as a Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow. He then taught at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. It was an appealing pairing: Alpuy at 84, although as young as ever, is two generations ahead of Roca and has very definite ideas about art, while Roca, who is in touch with young artists here and abroad and with the latest developments in art, immediately recognized what is timeless and unique in Alpuy’s work. Furthermore, an important phase in Alpuy’s artistic development took place during the three years he lived in Bogotá.
Alpuy has always been fiercely independent, belonging to a category that could be defined as a worker in the arts, because for him, giving concrete form to an intuition is not a fluke of inspiration but the result of constant and daily work. This means spiritual, psychological and physical effort in equal parts and none less important than the other. Alpuy’s reliefs and drawings are totally unlike any other contemporary artist’s work, which is why many artists took notice of it. His iconography, for example, predates Jean Michel Basquiat’s, and Ana Mendieta, later revisited Alpuy’s pursuit of the origins and the telluric. Today, looking at these archetypal carvings and assemblages, some made forty years ago, it is difficult to date them, as they appear timeless. After spending time with Alpuy and his work, José Roca selected Alpuy’s latest pieces for this exhibition, along with his seminal wall reliefs and ink drawings from the 1960s, all of them created in New York. Having known Alpuy for 40 years, I find it interesting to view his work through the new and illuminating perspective that José Roca brought to this exhibition. It has been a great pleasure to work with both of them.
b. 1919, Cerro Chato, Uruguay - d. 2009, New York City
Growing up in the Uruguayan countryside with little exposure to art, Alpuy first began drawing at the age of twenty. Within a year, the young artist met Joaquín Torres-García. Inspired by his theories on Constructive Universalism, Alpuy joined the Taller Torres-García.
In 1944, Alpuy painted two murals as part of the Taller's project to decorate the St. Bois Hospital in Uruguay. He would continue to paint murals throughout his career. Encouraged by Torres-García, Alpuy and other Taller members travelled to the Andean region of South America in 1945. This experience, along with other periods of travel during the 1950s in South America, Europe, and the Middle East profoundly affected his work. For Alpuy, nature functions as a framework for his archetypal personal symbolism, based on a fascination with the organic and the primordial.
In 1961, Alpuy immigrated to New York, where he remained for the duration of his life. Alpuy's work has been featured in numerous exhibitions about the Taller Torres-García, as well as in several international solo exhibitions. It is also included in major international collections, including: the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York; The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection, New York; and the Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay.
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