A Bicentennial Celebration: Art from Argentina


Ernesto de la Cárcova, Out of Bread and With No Work, oil, 1892-3. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires

May 25th, 1810, is the date that marks the first step toward an independent Argentina. Aiming to celebrate the bicentennial of that crucial moment, Mariano Akerman presented today [25.5.2010] a lecture titled "ART FROM ARGENTINA" at the International School of Islamabad (ISOI). Temperatures rising above 47 degrees Celsius in the Pakistani capital did not stop the planned activity nor the presence and participation of some 65 students of diverse origin, who were "very much interested" in "learning something" about the land of gauchos and tango.
The meeting included a brief reference on Argentina as a country: geography, history, facts and figures. Akerman presented some examples of Argentinean Art belonging to the Pre-Columbian, Colonial, Independent and Modern Periods. Among them, a piece of pottery from the Aguada Culture, Archangel Salamiel (Follower of the Calamarca Master, 17th century), Out of Berad and Without Work (Ernesto de la Cárcova, 1892-3) y Geometry (Juan Battle Planas, c. 1960) captivated the audience.
Akerman spoke about his early experiencies with the art of painting, which he discovered in the studio of his aunt Elisa Akerman in Buenos Aires c. 1965. This was corroborated thanks to a photograph of the atelier "Piruetas" (Stunts), where they both can be seen surrounded by surreal compositions technically known as automatisms. Along the sixties Elisa practiced and taught such a technique, which she in turn had learnt from her teacher, Battle Planas.
A need to transform reality led Mariano Akerman "to correct" a reproduction The English Girl (Henri Matisse, 1947), simplified image with no facial treats, although these were finally delineated by Mariano as he was a child: eyes, nose and mouth, without forgetting a pair of profuse eyebrows.
During a segment devoted to his works developed in Argentina between c. 1967 y 1991, Akerman spoke about the persistent presence of the Imaginary in his early imagery: "The artists of the Imaginary dream about a world that isn't this physical one surrounding us," he said. Akerman talked about seven of his works and established a parallel between the art of writing a poem and the art of painting a picture. "As words are to a poem, so are forms to the picture," he explained.

Beauty and the Beast (Akerman, 1986). An image explored by the students, who discovered analogies and differences at the time of recalling its literary source.

Beauty and the Beast, illustration by Walter Crane (1874).

As students attempted to describe or to name the various figures that characterize Mariano Akerman's early imagery, they soon found some considerable difficulty, inasmuch as Akerman's imagery has almost nothing to do with that of an illustrator. Indeed, the early imagery of Mariano Akerman involves certain designed ambiguity (both-an phenomenon in the visual arts) which can stimulate the imagination of the viewer and may even offer him new associative possibilities.

Three Figures before a Window (Akerman, 1989) is an image presenting points in common but also differences as one considers The Cheshire Cat, Alice and Humpty Dumpty, Lewis Carroll's famous characters (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865; Through the Looking-Glass, 1871).

Carroll's characters illustrated by John Tenniel, Arthur Rackham, and William Wallace Denslow.


Gab Steg said...

Mariano, una presentación muy linda, dada la combinación de la historia del arte argentino tus propias obras. Me encantaría tener una reseña tuya de cada obra, de tu imaginería, de cómo la concebiste y acerca de tus intenciones expresivas.
Interesante paralelo el de "Las formas son a la pintura lo que las palabras al poema". Me encanta la poesía, y veo que en tu caso el empleo de la palabra es importante, tanto por su forma como por su contenido. Veo tus formas y coloridos particulares e inconfundibles: sí, un Akerman es un Akerman.
Imagino que el contenido de algunos de tus cuadros tiene que ver con estados emocionales interiores o del alma. Eso es personal, produce distintas impresiones en cada observador, seguramente distintas a las del creador.
Pasando a otro tema, atrevido eso de haber querido cambiar y completar una pintura de Matisse. Me encantaría verlo. :)
Gracias, siempre mil gracias por hacernos partícipes de todo esto, gab ~

Gina desde el Centro said...

Tu presentación en el día del Bicentenario es un digno homenaje. Me alegra.

Joan Pohl said...

Dear Mariano,
You are amazing in a number of languages.
My kids and I want to thank you for coming to the school yesterday and sharing your work and ideas with us. You know how much the kids have 'taken to you'; as we say you are the best thing since 'sliced white bread'.
Love and thanks.

Odile Jouanneau said...

Thank you for sharing this very interesting, lively and instructive presentation about Argentina and its artworks. Sincerely, O.J.

Yuka Nakasone said...

Es fantástico. Comprendo muy bien de que amas el país donde vives y su gente. A seguir con tus trabajos maravillosos por la humanidad. Y sobre todo, sigue inspirando la gente.