Beuys and Beyond in Buenos Aires
Works from the Deutsche Bank Collection in dialogue with contemporary Argentinean Art
Following its premiere in Santiago de Chile, "Beuys and Beyond – Teaching as Art" is now on view at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires. The show juxtaposes works by Joseph Beuys and his students with works by contemporary Argentinean artists, thus combining two topics of central importance for Deutsche Bank’s social commitment: art and education.
||"Everyone should build on his intentions and ask questions so that something is clarified. This is how Joseph Beuys described his teaching approach at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in the 1960s. His primary concern was to encourage his students to discuss issues and to set their thought processes in motion. Some 50 years later Pablo Siquier – one of the most influential contemporary Argentinean artists – declared that his main interest was to foster an exchange of ideas. Like Beuys, he had a formative influence on many students in his workshops and seminars. As a result, curator Elio Kapszuk chose the artist (who was born in 1961) as a counterpoint to Joseph Beuys for the exhibition. At the second venue of Beuys and Beyond – Teaching as Art, the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Siquier will be shown together with Diego Bianchi, Tomas Espina, Leopoldo Estol, Carlos Huffman, Luciana Lamothe and Elisa Strada for whom he played an important role as mentor.
In his courses, Siquier relies on flat hierarchies in order to promote group-dynamic processes, where the role of "teacher" and "student" can be reversed. Like Beuys, he does not want to cultivate epigoni. "Pablo never tried to impose his definition of art on us. Instead, he tried to strengthen what was important in our work," said Carlos Huffmann, who attended one of Siquier’s workshops in 2002. Consistently, Huffmann’s overpainted magazine pictures of cars and motorcycles have nothing in common with his teacher’s nonfigurative compositions. He transforms the stylized motifs, which celebrate technology and speed as an expression of modernity and personal freedom, in unsettling scenarios of violence and destruction. Siquier, on the other hand, explores different possibilities of abstraction: the colorful, organic shapes in his early works from the 1980s recall the ornamentation of native South American peoples. Since the mid 1990s, these forms have been increasingly replaced by complex graphic compositions in black and white, in which the aesthetics of computer graphics fuse with the exuberance of South American baroque.
The wide variety of artistic approaches in Beuys and Beyond demonstrates the special relationship between both Siquier and Beuys and their students. The exhibition shows Beuys in direct dialogue with his students Lothar Baumgarten, Jörg Immendorff, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Katharina Sieverding and Norbert Tadeusz. The selected works from the Deutsche Bank Collection illustrate the entire spectrum of styles of the Beuys students – from Immendorff’s figurative, politically charged woodcuts and Palermo’s reduced abstractions, to Sieverdings conceptual photo works.
Independently of his own artistic position, Siquier also encourages his students to take their own paths. Thus, for example, Diego Bianchi uses waste and cheap consumer goods to make sculptures and spawling installations which seem to reflect the political and cultural confusion of our age. Luciana Lamothe says that Siquier got her to radicalize her works. And in her case, this can even mean doing damage to property. For instance, she unscrewed the seat of Marcel Breuer’s tubular steel chair Wassily, which is supposed to provide for modernist elegance in a room of the Universidad Di Tella. Subsequently, she photographed the now useless design icon together with her "weapon" – a ring of Allen keys. For other works in her series Clandestinas (secrets), she added a lock to the locks used to protect a shop from burglars and sprayed solvent on a bilious green metal grid, which gave rise to a very decorative formation of bubbles – a statement that is both reduced and expressive.
Beuys and Beyond – Teaching as Art
June 9 – July 18, 2010
Centro Cultural Recoleta