By Jian Huang
One of the exhibitions currently featured as part of the Getty Center’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative is, “Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.” This show explores an undefinable fluidity in form and space between artists and poets during the mid-century Concrete Art movement in Argentina and Brazil. Borrowing from a philosophical inquiry on objectivity, poets like Augusto de Campos pushed the boundaries of letters into three-dimensional form while artists like Hermelindo Fiaminghi expanded the depth of space on a flat painting. Creativity begets more creativity for this group of artists as their impulses blur the line between paintings, sculptures, philosophy, poems, music, and even dance.
During this period, artists in Latin America found geometric expressions as a way to rebel against how repressive regimes appropriated figurative art for propagandistic use. Geometry was free of political connotations; that freedom was itself a political stance.
At a corresponding panel titled, “The ‘Concrete’ in Poetry and Art,” curators Nancy Perloff and Zanna Gilbert, along with guest author Rachel Price, echoed the idea of interdisciplinary influence as essential during this movement. Referencing the exhibit’s cover art, Willys de Castro’s “Objeto ativo” (1958), innovation happens when artists dare to go beyond their limitations.
The form goes beyond its expectations, as seen and heard in “Concrete Poetry: Words and Sounds in Graphic Space”, an exhibition held at the Getty Center over the summer prior to the launch of PST: LA/LA. In this show, words were reintroduced as art objects. Stating them out loud, with phonetics intact, offers the idea that words were also sound art.
Revisiting Latino art as movements out of the Americas is a rich history that exhibitions from PST: LA/LA demand we consider. Through these exhibitions like "Making Art Concrete" we can’t help but realize that Latino art played a vital role in contemporary art with many sources mixing ideas and expressions.
Once PST: LA/LA is over the new question will be, “Will this inquiry continue?” Let us hope it does.
"Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros" / Getty Center / Through February 11, 2018 / This exhibition is part of the initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. [view]
Jian Huang is writer and a 2016 PEN Emerging Voice recipient. Raised in South LA, Jian graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Art History and Communication and been involved with arts organizations, including LA County Arts Commission’s Civic Art Program, LA County Museum of Art, and Inner-City Arts. Jian served as past Chair for the Public Art Coalition of Southern California and Senior Editor for Angel’s Flight Literary West.