In Red Plan, Guillermo Kuitca transforms a seemingly objective architectural floor-plan into a poetic vehicle for exploring universal themes of migration and dislocation, place and non-place, isolation and the significance of memory. For over thirty years, Kuitca’s celebrated practice has engaged spatial, architectural and cartographical mapping systems, theatre sets and beds in a rigorous exploration of spatial representation in painting. Created in 1989, the same year that Kuitca also represented Argentina in the XVII São Paulo Biennale, Red Plan is notably one of the earliest examples to feature the distinct architectural floor-plan of a one bed-room apartment –one of the artist’s signature motifs. Covering the vast deep red canvas with a fragmented network of faint lines reminiscent of decorative wallpaper, Kuitca creates a phantom spatial field, combining the aerial view of the sparse interior with a perspectival mise-en-scene of a bed and overturned chairs outside the perimeters of the floor plan.
Kuitca, who was raised during the brutal period of military dictatorship known as the ‘Argentine Revolution’ (1966–1973), began studying art at the age of nine and became known as a child prodigy, granted his first exhibition at the age of only thirteen. Faced with the proclaimed ‘death of painting’, the end of history and dissolution of social utopias, Kuitca chose painting as a means to engage with what art historian Yves-Alain Bois refers to as the ‘task of mourning’ - similar to the way in which Anselm Kiefer or Gerhard Richter took up the challenge of painting history, as well as incorporating influences from sculpture, architecture, theatre, film, and literature. Though demonstrating the decisive shift in Kuitca’s practice towards visualizing architectural plans, mapping systems and networks, Red Plan nevertheless retains the sense of dramatic foreboding, ambivalence and indeterminacy that emanates from his psychologically charged paintings, inspired by the world of theater and his encounters with Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater in the 1980s. The floor plan, normally construed as an objective diagrammatic tool, is here recast as a means of meditating on the intersection of private and public space, dislocation and isolation.