Solo show EUGENIO ESPINOZA Art Nexus, Issue #60 Mar - Apr 2006 United States, Miami Institution: Locust Projects
Miami has experienced a significant change in recent years, positioning itself not only as a new art center in the United States but also as the crucible where that country and Latin America meet. The continued presence of Art Basel in this city has contributed to this phenomenon along with the real estate market, which is less inflated than in cities like New York, and the opening of important private collections like the Rubell and Margulies collections to the public. Locust Projects, an alternative space run by young artists, was a pioneer in the Wynwood area and has been presenting contemporary art programming oriented toward conceptual work. Recently Locust Projects invited the Venezuelan artist Eugenio Espinoza to show one of his earliest and perhaps one of his most significant works, Impenetrable, first presented in Caracas in 1972. It is interesting for a space run by artists who were born in the 1970s and whose exhibitors generally fall within that generation to show this important work of art, largely unknown in the international scene. This initiative seems related to the growing interest among younger artists in the decade of the 1970s and the series of key developments that occurred then with respect to, among other things, institutional criticism and the relationship between artworks, contexts, and audiences. In a way, it constitutes an act of recovered memory in a city that practically has none, especially regarding that decade. Impenetrable was an important turning point in the history of Venezuelan art, especially in the kinetic tradition. At that moment, kinetic art had become an official language of sorts, gracing public squares, murals, streets, and transforming Caraca’s urban landscape. Modernism was seen as monumental and heroic and flowed alongside the illusion of vertiginous progress in the Saudi Venezuela of the 1970s. Espinoza’s work was a return to kinetic art’s roots in formal and spatial experimentation, and, as the artist has said, it was a matter of continuing ideas of spatial intervention such as those developed by Soto and Oiticica (who created the first Penetrables), and it is not the case, as some critics have suggested, the Impenetrable appeared as a parody of Jesus Soto’s Penetrable. Nevertheless, Impenetrable operates on the subversion of the modernist canon, through its extreme mise en scene; Impenetrable not only pointed to the rhetoric of kinetic art in Venezuela in the 1970s, but it also articulated an institutional critique based on the viewer’s spatial experience. Eduardo Costa, the Argentinean conceptual artist, writes in a recent text on Espinoza that “in a feat of creative synthesis, the young artist reformulated Gego’s structuralist geometry, Soto’s and Oiticica’s Penetrables, and Walter De Maria’s Earth Room, transforming them into his own memorable contribution to painting.” Impenetrable is in fact a painting, one that, like the life-sized map Borges describes in El Hacedor in the section devoted to the Museum, covers the entire space that contains it and renders it inaccessible and impassable. At Locust Projects, the artist didn’t simply re-install his 1972 work; rather, he rethought it and added an important element that in the first version was perhaps not fully intentional. Espinoza adapted the work to the space, creating two spaces that combined to form the new work. One space was empty and another one was entirely occupied by Impenetrable, which was visible from some openings in the former. This division of space is especially interesting. The empty space gives the keys to understanding Impenetrable from a different perspective.; there is a dialectic between the empty space that contains the public, an audience in a space without apparent artworks, and the space occupied by the work, which can only be partically accessed by the viewer’s gaze because the artist has created a series of blind spots that make it impossible to see the whole work from any perspective. In this way, this reinstallation of Impenetrable not only recovers aspects of De Maria’s Earth Room but inscribes itself in the tradition of works like Yves Klein’s 1959 Le Vide and Hans Haacke’s 1963-1965. Its presence in a young space, and in a city such as Miami with relatively little history, forces us to rethink the place of the work of art in a world fascinated with the new and the spectacular, a world that often loses sight of history in its effort to discover what is to come next.
arte al dia international
EUGENIO ESPINOZA Beyong Geometry, Conceptualism and Earth Art Eduardo Costa
“De Maria completed with Earth Room one of the highlights of a new movement, Earth Art, while Espinoza with the Impenetrables remarkably revitalized a tradition at least forty thousand years old. After 1972 a painting can be the size and shape of the venue’s floor, and it can be horizontally “hung” denying entrance to the viewer’s body, yet not quite to the viewer’s eyesight since the painting can still be seen through the doorway. This confluence proposes a return to the visual, with the condition of excluding the spectator physically from the venue’s room, so that the painting is able to fully and exclusively control the space. The painting thus acquires an anthropological quality, an almost will of its own, and is able to exercise authority.”