Ambitious abstraction: Guillermo Kuitca’s monumental works at Hauser & Wirth
Guillermo Kuitca’s latest show at the London arm of Hauser & Wirth brings together the Argentine artist’s recent body of work while heralding a new dimension to his art, a diverse collection with a cohesive dialogue shifting between abstraction and an illusionist approach to figuration.
Discarding his usual methodology of preparatory sketches, the exhibition’s key work is the ambitious Untitled (Exodus), a cubist composition covering a vast 6.5m canvas that took nearly four months to complete. The piece is the result of a challenge he had set himself to reinterpret and expand on the style manifested in his Desenlace suite of paintings, that represented Argentina in the 2007 Venice Biennale.
The work, an expanse of dynamic and triangular brushstrokes, is contraposed by a rectangular portal, a suggestion of a plane beyond the physical parameters of the canvas. The theme of interim space and doorways is recurrent throughout, and is a response to a series of important murals painted recently by the artist in his studio in Buenos Aires for Hauser & Wirth’s Durslade Farmhouse in Somerset, and an installation for the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris.
Figures also feature prominently, from subtle allusions to explicit forms shrouded in dark mysterious dress, revived from the era of 19th century symbolism. In Untitled (2014), which takes centre stage in the main room of the gallery, a foggy grey, slanted door seen from afar reveals a complex layering of green, purples and reds up close, a ghostly silhouette emerging from the smokey brushstrokes inviting the viewer to take a second contemplative look.