Recalling the square, our modern art-historical memory delves back to Mondrian's pilgrimage from nature to the Neoplastic and Malevich's archetypal Suprematist icons. Drifting onward along time's line, we unearth Albers' mid-century series, "Homage to the Square," and a vast sweep of color fields. And in more recent recesses, the mind most likely alights on one or another Minimalist slab. The square - on the surface so very simple, with its four sides of equal length, four angles of equal degree - has served the twentieth century's artists graciously, comprising and conveying manifold meanings just by being its ever-accommodating self.
In its more recent incarnations, this repository, like any malleable entity, has perhaps suffered at the hands of its interpreters. Emerging in the infancy of abstraction as a lofty conduit to metaphysical consciousness, a cipher of the fourth dimension, the square becomes, by the 1960s, an emblem of the prefabricated industrial object, a cold symbol of Carl Andre's "significant blankness," a tabula rasa forbidden inscription. What woeful injustice for the shape the ancients imbued with the power to fend off plagues, the shape from which the logarithmic spiral of shells and celestial nebulae springs, the shape that, given three dimensions, promised protection from a deluge of evils, until Pandora lost her will.
It is a vital pleasure, then, to find the square, of late stripped bare, redeemed in "Square Roots," an exhibition of painting and sculpture by eight contemporary artists who reinfuse the quadrilateral (a few rectangles sneak in) with history, humanity, tactility, and spirituality. Ladd Spiegel, curator, is the second of Cecilia de Torres' artists to present a show contextualizing a loose family of Constructivist-inspired artists.
[Excerpt from the essay: Square Roots: Contemporary Quadrilateral Literalism with Heart by Jennifer Liese, editor of Provincetown Arts magazine.]
Full essay by Jennifer Liese
Eduardo Costa is an Argentine artist who lived twenty-five years in the US and four in Brazil. He started his career in Buenos Aires as part of the Di Tella generation and continued to work in NYC, where he made a strong contribution to the local avant-garde. He collaborated with American artists Vito Acconci, Scott Burton, John Perreault and Hannah Weiner, among others. In Brazil, he participated in projects organized by Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Antonio Manuel, Lygia Clark, and others from the school of Rio. His work has been discussed in Art in America, Art Forum, and in the main books on conceptual art: A. Alberro, MIT, 1999; P. Osborne, Phaedon, 2002; Mari Carmen Ramírez and Héctor Olea, Yale/Houston Museum of Art, 2004; Inés. Katzenstein, MoMA, New York, 2004, Luis Pérez- Oramas and others, San Antonio Museum of Art, 2004; Luis Camnitzer, University of Texas, 2007, among others. Eduardo Costa ́s work has been exhibited at the New Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Queens Museum of Art, Queens, New York; List Art Center, Boston; Miami Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Minnesota, MOMA, Buenos Aires; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, among others. A current project is to manufacture 30 Duchamp/Costa bicycles inspired by a 1980 model, for an exhibition on Duchamp-based work curated by Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern) for the Jumex Foundation in Mexico City.
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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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b. 1931 La Plata, Argentina – lives in Segovia, Spain
Around 1957, César Paternosto started creating artworks based on Geometric Abstraction. After attending a serial music concert, he was enthralled by Anton Webern's pregnant silences, which influenced the next development in his art. By the end of the 1960s, Paternosto moved the emphasis of depicted matter in his paintings to the outer-sides of the canvas, leaving the front blank. By shifting the attention to the sides, he was questioning the traditional viewing of paintings frontally, and as the range of the pictorial field was expanded to the sides, the three dimensionality of the painting turned it into an object. His 2012 essay, “Painting as Object: Geometric Forms and Lateral Expansions,” explained the evolution and continuity of his idea, from the early lateral vision canvases, to his most recent work.
In 1977, Paternosto began to travel to Bolivia and Peru to study the archaeological sites Tiwanaku, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu. These trips marked an important turning point in his work sparking new formal explorations in form, composition, and color. By rooting his art in American autochthonous traditions rather than in the modern European model, Paternosto created a new and original type of abstraction based on the centuries-old woven textiles and sculptural stones of the Inca.
Paintings by Paternosto are found in various prestigious collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland; and the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany, amongst others.
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