The Art of Guillermo Kuitca

Loayza-Lauffs, Mariana
Supervisor: Prof. David Clarke

Guillermo Kuitca was born on the 22nct of January of 1961 in Buenos Aires where he still works and lives. His four grandparents were Russian Jews who immigrated from Russia to Argentina at the beginning of the century. Kuitca is considered to be one of the most prominent contemporary artists to have emerged at the end of the 20th century in Argentina and Latin America. He has successfully developed an international career exhibiting one-person shows in important art institutions such as in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1991), the Whitechapel Gallery in London (1995) and the Museo Alejandro Otero in Caracas (1997). Kuitca has also participated in group exhibitions sharing the space with prominent international artists.

Kuitca’s emergence in the art scene occurred at a time in history when the value of painting re-emerged with force in Europe and the U.S. during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a period when the Neo-Expressionist and the Trans-avantgarde “movements” were setting the aesthetic parameters in many of the western countries including Argentina. Kuitca was part of the artistic current of his time but he developed his own artistic independence.

This thesis is the first comprehensive study of Kuitca’s artistic development focusing on the body of works that he produced between 1981 and 1997. The main theme of this thesis is the integrity of his work as a whole. It is the first time that the evolution of Kuitca’s pictorial language has been studied closely and traced back demonstrating that clear links between each stage of his artistic production. The human condition is the underlying theme that unifies his whole oeuvre which is represented by the following groups of images: the interior rooms, the apartment plans, the city and road maps, and the institutional spaces. The structure of this thesis is based on these images with four chapters focusing on each of the groups of images respectively. This thesis explores the internal development of Kuitca’s imaginary as well as the personal and cultural background of the artist, which also had an influence on his art.

A major characteristic in Kuitca’s artistic development is that the significant influences for the construction of his images have mostly come from outside the sphere of painting. During the first half of the 1980s, Kuitca began an intense relationship with theater, particularly in response to the work of the German choreographer Pina Bausch. During the second half of the 1980s, he turned to architecture, which to the present day has remained the major source for the construction of his images. Other sources include literature, music, film and cartography.

The bed is the departure point for Kuitca’s imaginary trip which leads from an interior space to an exterior one, from a private space to a public one, from the particular to the general. Kuitca takes us on a mental journey to a world of relations where nothing exists in isolation.