Guillermo Kuitca (Argentinian b. 1961)
Property from a European Collector
Guillermo Kuitca (Argentinian b. 1961)

Untitled (Van Gogh Room)

Guillermo Kuitca (Argentinian b. 1961)
Untitled (Van Gogh Room)
faintly signed and dated 'Kuitca, 1989' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
32 x 45¼ in. (81.3 x 114.9 cm.)
Painted in 1989.
Galerie Barbara Faber, Amsterdam.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Lot Essay

We are grateful to Sonia Becce from the artist's studio, for her assistance cataloguing this work.

For me the bed was a plane surface, it was a space of occupation. The bed, that rectangle was the world I lived in. We humans live in a bed, it's our first geographic space, the most proximate, the most private, but in some way it's our earth.
-Guillermo Kuitca(1)

Guillermo's Kuitca's prolific production encompasses a varied, yet highly cohesive body of work that focuses on the intersection between the spatial and the corporeal through a repertoire of visual references to beds, apartment interiors, floor plans, maps, city grids, and diagrammatic renderings of stadiums and theatres that function as poetic ruminations on the pathos of contemporary life.

The present work, Untitled (Van Gogh Room) was executed in 1989 at a time in which the artist was already a regular fixture on the international art circuit. Yet, less than a decade earlier in 1980, the precocious artist had nearly abandoned painting after seeing a performance by the German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch at a theatre in Buenos Aires. Kuitca would later recount the experience as follows: "At that moment, in the thoughts of Pina Bausch, there was something that struck me a lot--she had shown that in dance walking was enough. That was a kind of minimalist thinking that I understood profoundly. Sometimes walking is enough. To see that on stage made me ask myself: How can I make work from that point of view? How to reduce things to their essence? And I realized that I had never done that in my painting."(2) Kuitca's ruminations would lead him to a deep introspective period about his own work and a nearly year--long sabbatical from painting. And when he returned to the studio he fully embraced the philosophy he had interiorized from Bausch. The result was the 1982 series Nadie olvida nada (No one forgets anything), pared down, schematic, almost nave--like renderings of objects or figures painted against a barren, amorphous background. It was in this series that the mnemonically charged image of the bed first appeared in Kuitca's work, signaling one of his most pervasive concerns-the liminal space between the private and the public. Indeed, Kuitca's representations of beds would eventually lead to a larger exploration-the representation of space through architecture and the Investigation of symbolic modes of inscription.

Nearly a decade later, Kuitca was invited by the Van Gogh Foundation in Amsterdam to participate in an exhibition commemorating the centennial of the artist's death. Artists were given the tasks of creating works inspired by a Van Gogh painting. And, Kuitca gravitated to one of the Dutch master's most iconic works (Bedroom in Arles, 1888) and certainly one that must have resonated with the young artist's own preoccupation with the "bed" or domestic interiors as the locus for investigating the relationship between the individual and space. In Untitled (Van Gogh Room), the trapezoidal, cramped, yet well-appointed quarters depicted in the original work have given way to a tableaux-like setting reminiscent of Kuitca's dream--like paintings of apartment interiors. The centrifugal lines of the wooden plank floor accentuate the larger, rectangular space while the furnishings have been simplified, and the room seems nearly empty in its newly expanded space. The original content of the bedroom, including the bed, small table, chairs and artwork on the walls situated to the right remain virtually unchanged but the elements on the left side have been inexplicably strewn about or repositioned in a manner that suggest a pervasive uncanniness rather than the orderly interior of a charming French countryside room. Much like the original work--whose seemingly quaint appearance belies an underlying tension and anxiety conveyed in its irregular lines, asymmetrical architecture, and uneven patches of color--so too Kuitca renders a synecdochic space replete with psychic turmoil that perilously evinces the delicate fissures between the private, public, corporeal, and geographical.

1 See Hans-Michael Herzog in "Conversation with Guillermo Kuitca" in exhibition catalogue Guillermo Kuitca (Zurich: Daros-Latinamerica AG, 2006), n.p.

2 Ibid., n.p.

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