Index Card Marvels with Joaquín Torres García

Looking for a way to spend a few leisurely hours this week? At Galeria Animal in Vitacura, viewers are invited to peruse the current exhibition of artwork by Uruguayan Joaquín Torres García.

Borrowed from Emilio Elena's collection and housed in oversized frames, these tiny works consist of index card-sized rectangles of brown paper. Quadrants in pencil or ink divide up everyday objects: a bell, clock, fish, house and hammer. Their whimsical simplicity belies a deeper investigation into man's relationship with the world around him. Created between 1906 and 1947, the thirty-three unnamed, symbolic drawings are a fine display of cubism.

Photo by Lauren E. Martinez
Photo by Lauren E. Martinez

The drawings portray subjects from multiple perspectives. Objects are broken up and reassembled into cylinders, triangles or cones. One shows two men standing behind bottles at a bar, and in another, tiny figures wave to an enormously tall ship. Bottles rest on a chest of drawers beneath handwritten notes about aspect, light and convention. "Exchange the naturalist aspect absolutely," Torres García writes.

Photo by Lauren E. Martinez
Photo by Lauren E. Martinez

Considered the founder of Constructive Universalism, an aesthetic-philosophical movement from the 1920s and 30s, Torres García based his work on proportion and rules of composition, such as the golden ratio. A piece called ‘Estructura 1’ involves balance scales, circles and triangles, initials, numerals, an anchor and a ladder. Almost hieroglyphic, it is unclear whether the images should be viewed horizontally, vertically, or collectively.

In the gallery, viewers chatter animatedly in small groups. Everyone shares white wine, including elderly people leaning on canes, middle-aged folk wearing blazers and a messy-haired fellow with his excitable but precious Chihuahua.

Photo by Lauren E. Martinez
Photo by Lauren E. Martinez

Upstairs, Diego Santa María showcases a fabulous collection of paintings called 'No Se Si Tus Pinturas Estan Apareciendo O Desapareciendo' (I Don't Know if your Paintings are Appearing or Disappearing). The first oil painting, 'One' covers a wall with luminous figures, their faces highlighted, ghost-like, in soft focus. They seem almost processional. A corner terrace breaks up the paintings, where a younger audience enjoys the sunlight. The opposite wall features panels numbered two through eight in bright blues and greens. Each present a central figure, whose features or appendages are either smudged, missing or dripping. In one, the subject’s eyes are askew, whilst another's mouth is erased. A girl in pastel pink and goldenrod loses a leg; yellow leaks from her hand and foot. Layered colors and textures in the pieces draw the viewer’s attention to details such as a neon blip, a textured sweater, and black jeans fading up from the ankle; her foot missing.

Four scenic oil paintings by Torres García's wife Manolita Piña are also on display. The exhibition runs until June 11th, so be sure to catch it in the coming week.

Joaquín Torres García, Manolita Piña, and Diego Santa María
Closes June 11th 2011
Free Entry
Galeria Animal
Alonso de Cordova 3105, Vitacura
Metro: Vitacura

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