Thursday, December 21, 2017
Thinking on Your Feet (Partial Reconstruction of Joaquin Garcia Torres Toy Figures
as an Instrument of Research for Politics), 2017
Wood, acrylic, stucco, cement
172 x 30 x 47 cm
Kostis Velonis’s sculptural work often refers to historical events and art historical movements, while his markedly political work has at the same time a very personal aspect. He creates narratives characterized by the linking of personal stories with the reworking of past happenings. His personal experiences and reference points inflect his theoretical pursuits, and historical leaders and literary heroes often play a leading part in his newly invented scenarios. Velonis’s sculptures have a modest character, and they are usually made of wood, cardboard, small objects, and materials from the natural environment, which the artist finds and reuses in a process of bricolage. His works often transmit emotions such us loneliness, failure, melancholy, and uncertainty.
Kostis Velonis’s solo exhibition A Puppet Sun is organized by NEON and curated by Vassilis Oikonomopoulos. It is on view through January 14, 2018. It features twenty-five new works that the artist conceived for 11 Kaplanon Street in central Athens, responding to the history and architecture of the building. This neoclassical residence has a remarkable history. It was constructed in 1891 and first occupied by Pavlos Kountouriotis, the first president of the Second Hellenic Republic (1924–35, the second period in modern Greek history where Greece was not headed by a king). At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Zouzoula family acquired the residence, and the ground floor became the office of the politician Apostolos Zouzoulas, one of the founders of the People’s Party. Between the 1910s and the 1920s the building served as party headquarters. Later, during the authoritarian Metaxas Regime (1936–41), it was transformed into a residence for female students.
Kostis Velonis and Daphne Vitali in conversation
Mousse Magazine. Between the Private and the Public, the Intimate and the Political : Kostis Velonis
Within the history of modern architecture in México, collaboration is a recurring theme. Urban planners, architects and artists praised collaborative actions as a way to integrate new buildings into the city in a coherent manner as well as to achieve a synthesis of the arts with architecture. Through these collaborative efforts, outstanding works of architecture were raised, such as the modern campus of the National University (1953) and the Housing Complex of Nonoalco-Tlatelolco (1964), just to mention a pair. Nevertheless, there were some projects that, with time, ended up contradicting the original spirit of collaboration through intense debates concerning authorship. The Towers of Satellite City, built by Luis Barragán and Mathias Goeritz between 1957-58 are infamous in this regard. The dispute around authorship for this monumental sculpture broke any sort of relationship between the architect and the sculptor from the late 1960s until Barragán’s death. Even today, followers and fanatics of Barragán’s or Goeritz’s production continue arguing about this dynamic.
In contrast, the history of modern architecture in Mexico is full of examples of fruitful collaborations. A case in point is the exemplary collaboration between Juan O’Gorman and Max Cetto, sustained in great part by their close friendship. O’Gorman, credited as the first architect to construct a modern building in Mexico, met Cetto shortly after he arrived to the country in 1939 as refugee escaping from Nazi Germany. Friendship between the two developed rapidly; they shared, among other things, progressive ideas regarding art, architecture and politics. No one knows with certainty the extent of their collaborations, dialogues and mutual influences; however, their use of stone and other natural materials in the process of construction in an almost expressionist fashion, the stair as a sculptural element, and their respectful and close attention to the relationship between architecture and the landscape are some of the interests and defining characteristics that their architectural practices share.
Collaboration between Cetto and O’Gorman has not yielded any sort of polemics, even though the Mexican architect signed and registered the work of his friend until he became a national citizen. This absence of disputes can be understood, partly, if the nature of their relationship beyond their professional practices and dialogues it is taken in consideration. Juan Guzmán’s (Hans Gutmann) series of color photographs from the 1950s in O ́Gorman’s well known residence/studio at Avenida San Jerónimo, features images of what appears to be Cetto playing chess with O ́Gorman, an activity that they practiced habitually. In other photographs, the daughters of the German architect play and lounge around the property, as if it were their own house.
In 2005, Anuar Maauad found an architectural drawing of Rufino Tamayo ́s house and studio located in the Anzures neighborhood. The building, completed in 1949, is part of Cetto ́s production, although Maauadńs finding is signed by O ́Gorman and the drawing showcases some architectural features that easily relate to his functionalist period. There are differences between the drawing and the final buildings, like the stair in the studio, but the general concept of the construction is very similar. Intrigued by the history of this project, Maauad began researching the work of O’Gorman and Cetto, and also included the presence of Tamayo who commissioned the construction. Without finding any reliable information about this house’s history, Mauuad’s speculation began: Is this drawing a preliminary study of the construction signed by O’Gorman shortly before Cetto became a Mexican citizen in 1947? How much discussion existed between the architects, as the project demonstrates s shared interests and solutions between the two? Did Tamayo play any part in this story, since his confrontational stance against figures such as O’Gorman increased during the 1940s?
For this exhibition Anuar Maauad has built three models of Tamayo’s house and studio--as it appears in the drawing that he found, as it was constructed in 1947, and as it appears today after decades of unfortunate interventions and modifications. Each structure represents a point in the history of this building that, miraculously, is still standing. He also gives a physical presence to Cetto, O’Gorman, and Tamayo who were involved in the mythology of this house. The large-scale plaques made of stretched canvas with their signatures rendered in bronze serve as an index of identity and authorship. The artist has collected and displays photographs and documents that serve as fragments from which to speculate about the house’s history and the three characters involved with it. In one of these images, it is possible to see the functionalist houses built by O’Gorman for his family and Diego Rivera in San Angel between 1929 and 1932. In the photograph, a sign on his family’s house reads “This Modern House for Rent.”
It is from this document that Maauad borrows the title of this exhibition. If in this case, the title announces This Modern House for Sale it is because this project aims to be an open invitation for someone to acquire Tamayo’s former residence and workplace. As part of his initiative, the artist seeks to find a buyer for the house, in order to restore it and redefine its history. As such, This Modern House for Sale is an invitation to collaborate with the artist, in the spirit of O’Gorman and Cetto, in order to preserve an example of modern architecture and launch a platform to advance research and programs on this matter.
- Daniel Garza-UsabiagaAnuar Maauad
This Modern House for Sale
November 18 - December 10
Efrain Lopez Gallery
Monday, December 18, 2017
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Friday, December 15, 2017
Lene Berg, Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of a Woman with Moustache, 2008. Façade-banner. Courtesy the artist.
In Amos Tutuola’s 1954 novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the young protagonist is running away from slave-catchers when he accidently crosses the border of reality as he knows it. His flight from bondage, however, does not earn him freedom. Rather, he finds himself in an absurd, liminal world of conversing symbols and delirious phantasms, in which the entire regime of meaning-production is subject to tectonic shifts. Tutuola—whose idiosyncratic use of English language and Yoruba folklore propelled a battle of interpretations—would later become a member of the Mbari Clubs, the first of which was established in Ibadan in 1961. These cultural centers, initiated by the German-Jewish expatriate Ulli Beier, were a gathering place for a generation of African artists, writers, and musicians. Together, they spearheaded a renaissance of Yoruba culture.
There are many like me.
I was made in a world of wood and old wives' tales.
I was made, with rings in my head and heels, to hold only
the strings that hold me.
the strings that hold me.
Vaclav made me with his several knives.
His middle daughter made me with her milk and silver needle.
I lost my sword at sea when the captain ran off with me
in the play
in the play
and Sundays by the Vltava.
I was laid aside, like Czechoslovakia.
My strings were made of raw silk, red, and rotted
at sea and knotted themselves around me.
at sea and knotted themselves around me.
Gillian Allnutt, 2004