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Vivid perspectives in six strokes.

Six Argentine artists of varied and intense personalities showed their works from May 17 to June 14 at the Novus Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, in an exhibition sponsored by that city's Argentine consul. All of the artists -- Ines Bancalari, Nicolas Leiva, Matilde Marin, Carlos Regazzoni, Francisco Ruiz and Lucrecia Orloff -- have won national and international recognition and have exhibited in group and individual shows throughout the world.

It was their generation's lot to undergo a period of upheaval and change as Argentina passed through an acute political, economic and social crisis, and thus to be plunged into a continuing search for a true identity. While the artists share the qualities of originality, excellence and technical expertise, that search takes a different form in each.

The work of Ines Bancalari deserves special attention. In the forward of a recent book on Bancalari, the renowned Argentine art critic, Rafael Squirru, describes her contribution to the contemporary art world. "Her work is among the most interesting of her generation," comments Squirru. "Behind an apparently sweet and extremely feminine exterior, there lurks an iron will and tenacity."

After studying in Europe, New York and Buenos Aires, Bancalari traveled to several continents to study specific at periods and styles. Her artistic career has traversed several stages over the years. Vigorous use of the spatula achieves texture and body in her still lifes, nudes and landscapes of the late seventies. Her figurative representation then evolves into the drawings of the Viejos (old ones) and sketches for Chekhov's Ivanov essays, powerful interpretations of a classical dramatic work. Her most recent paintings are characterized by images which springs from the subconscious; their expressionist tendency is unmistakable.

Bancalari's journey leads from concrete reality and its miseries to an almost mystical subjectivity. Despite having been stylistically influenced by her mentors, the artist affirms her independence by saying, "I believe in African art, in the art of the Cyclades, of the Olmecs, in all the "ism" that pour out of Europe and the United States. But I believe much more in what's before my nose and at my fingertips."

Carlos Regazzoni could be dubbed the quinquela Martin (Argentine artist of the Impressionist period) of the railroad. Inspired by this steely subject matter, he creates lybyrinthine paintings which, in his own words, "render homage to all railroad workers." Regazzoni is a denizen of railroad stations: they are his habitat. "Their [the workers] task is based on a direct confrontation with the surface ... it generates a universe where iron and nature join in a highly poetic ceremony full of force, irony and drama."

Lucrecia Orloff shares with the artists already mentioned a decided affinity with German expressionism, manifest by her preference for everyday urban subjects. Her realistic, occasionally lyrical work takes the form of woocuts, lithographs, etchings and engravings. The subject of old age obsesses her and she spends hours in homes for thea ged, sketching, drawing, analyzing inwardness and stillness. She is also working on a series of abstract silhouettes of cupolas and angels taken from the old Recoleta cemetry in Buenos Aires. In Orloff's work, realism and poetry coexist easily.

Francisco Ruiz, who currently lives in New York, draws his inspiration from his home town of Salta. His landscapes are refractions of light that reflect both the technical rationality of today as well as the history and culture of the new World. Luminous rectangles, diamonds and other geometric shapes evoke the constructivist work of the Uruguayan painter Joaquin Torres Garcia. However, Ruiz's obsession with geometry recalls an even more distant past--that of the Mayas, Olmecs and other ancient peoples who built with geometric shapes which symbolized their relationship to the cosmos. Ruiz frequently uses gold and silver leaf on paint, giving the landscapes an almost metaphysical effect.

Matilde Marin's prints are large works executed on handmade paper. "Marin develops a design in which color and texture predominate ... A certain totemic character of several of her works also indicates a modification of the image, which after being nonfigurative for a long time is beginning to show signs of figurations. But such signs, barely sketched and not devoid of symbolism, refer less to the physical than to the intuitable presence of an image that seems to be moving toward its origin."

Nicolas Leiva, the youngest of the group represented at this show, was born in San Miguel de Tucuman. His art "shows the way into a space in which the magical, the symbolic and the mythical coexist in inspired equilibrium within a context that is unequivocally American." Unlike some of the others in this exhibition, Leiva forgoes urban influences and opens himself to the regional, creating a space where objects intertwine and take on a reality of their own.

Realism, urbanism, regionalism, mysticism, symbolism: all these "isms" have nourished these young artists who have transcended the national crisis with their work, bringing to Argentine art an extraordinary degree of vitality, maturity and originality.

Maria Gowland de Gallo is a journalist and founder of Conciencia, a women's civic organization in Buenos Aires.
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Title Annotation:six Argentine artists stage exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia
Author:de Gallo, Maria Gowland; Garffer, Pilar
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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