By Dolores Lamarca*
From July to mid-November, the national tribute to the Argentine artist Julio Le Parc is being carried out. The exhibition of his works is distributed between the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Kirchner Cultural Center. The artistic direction of this tribute in the cultural center is in charge of Yamil Le Parc his son, and the curatorship is Gabriela Urtiaga. There are approximately 160 works in 3000 square meters. The Mobile Rombo Colón installation could also be visited until October, at the Teatro Colón, where the artist worked in the ’50, shortly before starting his inexhaustible international career that would transform him into one of the great representatives of kinetic and contemporary art.
Born in Mendoza in 1928, he moved to Buenos Aires where he later studied Fine Arts. Antonio Berni’s work and the murals he painted with other artists in the Pacific galleries were a great influence on him. From that social and critical realism, he took the idea of ??social transformation through art that would take place years later. His training in the country, coupled with the Parisian demands matured in the works that can be admired today in the largest retrospective dedicated to Le Parc. Winning a scholarship from the French Government Secretariat was the passport for his arrival in Paris at the end of 1958.
The exhibition in the CCK is not a chronological one. The rooms have been divided by thematic axes and distributed in several levels of the institution. In the basement, there is the work Torture. Performed by the artist in collaboration with the Denuncia group in 1972. This set of seven canvases condemns the abuses of military governments in Latin America, which were occurring at that time. It is the first time it can be seen in the country. Already on the sixth floor before entering the rooms, a timeline is observed, where the most important moments of his life have been specified. The Grand Prix of Painting and his consecration as an artist at the Venice Biennale in 1966, his intervention in the French May in 1968, and his expulsion for a few months from France. Then his career to date.
Continuing down the hall, in the Modulations room, his character as an abstract artist is observed, which he assumes from before his arrival in Paris. The works are grouped by the interest placed in representing the concept of optical movement, achieved through various pictorial resources. The eye of the viewer becomes a motor capturing serials, undulations, and displacements of shapes and colors. Le Parc will resort to the concept of “open work” by Umberto Eco. It will no longer be the artist who will give total meaning to the work, but will offer the viewer freedom of interpretation. Within the same room but apart, numerous sketches of the artist are observed. This sector would be a kind of “ideas laboratory” to which it will be sent for later works.
In the Relieves and Torsions room, his series of drawings are transferred to the volume. The works are models of sculptures designed for public spaces in various parts of the world. In them the incidence of light and the point of view of the viewer take on special relevance.
Moving to the Displacements room, the value of the observer’s point of view is further accentuated since only in the visitor’s journey is the work activated. In Continuo Móvil (2019) made especially for this exhibition, a set of small metallic plexiglass plates hang on a large mobile, capturing the surroundings, in this case taking the reflection of the great lamp and the spectators. Somehow the artist is saying “no” to the unique work, given by the continuous variations that it experiences. In the work Panel of reflective sheets, a spatial and temporal game is observed. There are no slogans and it draws on collective participation. The visitor moves behind the work and its image unfolds virtually, arriving before the real image. Each viewer takes advantage of their own experience, which must be lived to understand it. Somehow it is demystifying the artist, putting the spotlight on the very spectator.
In the Contorsiones y Móviles room, the works are part of pure kineticism, of which Le Parc is a pioneer worldwide. In 1964 the artist manages to buy the first micromotors so that the work had its own movement, resorting to the surprise factor with the activation of the cranks that create varied shapes in motion.
In Alquimias, a room dedicated to the study of light and color, those sketches observed, reproduced on large scales, are observed. Light thought as a wave or as a corpuscle. It is interesting how these works were also used to realize an experience in virtual reality, totally recommended to experiment. While his style changes have ever been questioned, Le Parc points out that he has always tried to preserve his freedom of expression, at the risk of contradicting himself. And these works are part of his work as an “experimental artist”, as he prefers to define himself.
Surfaces would be chronologically the room that should be located first. In her the investigations are observed on the optical effects, the tensions and instabilities that take place in the works. The long march would be your flagship. Work composed of several interchangeable canvases, which always fit well by the arrangement of the palette that you choose from fourteen colors, with which you make infinite possibilities of combinations.
Going up to the seventh floor, the role is assumed by the light. The dark room presents various works where the environment no longer intervenes and “instability” is the characteristic in Le Parc’s work, as Dr. Elena Oliveras suggests. In these rooms the viewer should not look for aesthetic motivations and explanations, he should only live the experience. Slowly the traditional notion of art is being demolished and paths are opened to new experiences.
To end the tour, on the fourth floor are the interactive works of the GRAV group (French acronym for the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel) **. They are recreational works product of a collective work. The objective was to involve the viewer and guide them towards a reflection on the individualism prevailing in the sixties, politics, questions about the dominant aesthetics of the institutions, university academic rigidity, and other social problems. They related directly to people outside institutions and through games such as hit the establishment or knock down the myths that you can participate in this space.
The exhibition of Le Parc can be visited by all kinds of audiences, until November 18th. From children to older adults, such as those I could accompany on one of the visits and who really enjoyed the creativity of a “young artist” of ninety-one years. His greatest satisfaction is knowing that “if any of the visitors enter with any regret and could forget it throughout their exhibition, they can feel satisfied.”
** Aesthetic and artistic group founded in Paris during 1960 by Julio Le Parc, García-Rossi, Hugo Demarco, F. Morellet, Denise René, Francisco Sobrino Ochoa, J.Stein and Yvaral, in this group also participated Norberto Gómez.
* Dolores Lamarca is Lic. Management and History of the Arts, Professor Nac. Drawing and Painting. He teaches art history seminars and visits to institutions and exhibitions.