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    Sale 2005

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    28 - 29 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 34

    Gunther Gerzso (Mexican 1915-2000)


    Price Realised  


    Gunther Gerzso (Mexican 1915-2000)
    signed and dated 'GERZSÓ 80' (lower right); titled, signed and dated 'AZUL-VERDE-AMARILLO, GERZSÓ, IV.-80' (on the reverse)
    oil on masonite
    23¾ x 36¼ in. (60.3 x 92 cm.)
    Painted in 1980.

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    This lot is sold with a photo-certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and dated April 24, 1981.

    During a period of nine years, between 1961 and 1969, Gunther Gerzso produced work characterized by mounting tension, shattered space, injuring and injured forms, and bloodless wounds. Each painting mirrored his state of mind, what seemed to him like an endless hell. But nothing lasts, and this troubling time would come to an end.

    Unbeknownst to Gerzso, he was developing iconography on which he would build all the work that he produced subsequently, even after he had stopped feeling vulnerable. Although the painted forms remained similar--Gerzso never gave up the original conflict--the destructive impulse that initially had shaped them as damaging or damaged gradually transformed them into smooth architectural constructions that fit together tightly, puzzle-like. The ragged wounds became straight lines; the sharp edges softened or, if pointed, became a suggestion of impending danger. The work retained its feeling of disquiet, although Gerzso transformed the aggressive impulse from being actively destructive into premonitions of what to expect should the perfect balance among forms be tilted.

    In the latter part of 1969, Gerzso's art began to reflect his newfound relief. By 1970, he was establishing a fresh iconography to represent ambiguity characterized mostly by flat forms modeled on figure-ground reversals--visual perceptions of two equally held figures in which the figure immediately seen alternates with the ground. Gerzso sought to establish simultaneously the presence of something that was there and something that the eye could make out, but which was not actually there. Only once before, in Archaic Landscape, 1963, had he suggested this optical illusion to tighten the composition. But now he began using it more frequently until it became one of his leitmotifs. The compromise that Gerzso had devised to express ambivalence shaped opposing images that could be manifested as one: those that attacked were also victims, and vice versa; those present were at the same time absent. In the end, the suggested insult could not take place, as both structures reflected an internal experience rather than an external reality.

    Included in this sale are three works showing an overview of the evolution of this iconography that Gerzso continued developing for thirty years and for which he is best known. From the middle seventies is Untitled, 1976 (see Day Session, lot 157) he painted three versions, one exhibited in France at the Picasso Museum, Château D'Antibes, Peintres Contemporains du Mexique, 16 July-21 September, 1980, No.15. Among the simplest and most stark compositions created by Gerzso, Untitled is nearly square in format, though slightly taller than wide to emphasize it emotional content. Gerzso splits the image into one blue and one sand colored wall. The blue wall, slightly tilted from the top, reveals the figure as a tricolor pointed structure; simultaneously, the ground suggests an open space behind both walls. In Azúl-Verde-Naranja, 1981, (see Day Session, lot 158) a flat blue structure is broken up by a triangle that points toward the opening formed by two walls coming together toward the left of the viewer. Each form, the triangle and the opening, is figure and ground, solid and empty space. In Azúl-Verde-Amarillo, 1980, (the present lot) the conflict between two forms that often characterizes Gerzso's work portrays conflict with the viewer. A solid light-blue wall to one side of the composition warns not to come near, while behind, a darker blue horizontal form splits in half to reveal a small vertical dark-green shape that beckons. The green shape is solid; its ground, an opening.

    Salomon Grimberg, Dallas, Texas,April 5, 2008.


    Acquired from the artist.
    Private collection, Mexico City.


    O. Paz and J. Golding, Gerzso, Neuchâtel-Suisse, Switzerland, 1983, p. 63 (illustrated in color).