Flavia Da Rin | Centro Cultural Borges

When someone says “Argentine art”, you hear Antonio Berni, Benito Quinquela Martín or Xul Solar. These big names line the walls of the permanent exhibit spaces in museums like the Bellas Artes or MALBA. But there’re a lot of Argentine artists you may not have heard of, and who as luck would have it are still alive.

“Diagonal Sur”, the new exhibit at Centro Cultural Borges, attempts to honor those artists. Because the works on display are part of a private collection owned by an individual proprietor (renowned plastic surgeon Esteban Tedesco) some of the most important contemporary artists, like Guillermo Kuitca and Luis Felipe Noé, are absent. However, the collection does feature almost four hundred pieces of Argentine art produced in the last thirty years, and still provides an incredible opportunity to put the old names to rest on their pedestal for a while and take a look at what the art scene today has to offer.

The curator

Diagonal Sur’s curator is Phillippe Cyroulnik, and is as his name might imply French, but has always been invested in Argentine contemporary art. He has not only visited Argentina on numerous occasions, but has also taken it upon himself to spread the word back home, and put many of the works he sees in Argentina on display in France.

Tedesco’s collection has remarkable range, from paintings to sculpture, from formalist to abstract. All of these works weren’t purchased with a specific set of curatorial criterion, but for the sole purpose of collecting the art he saw in his numerous visits to art galleries and simply liked. Cyroulnik, therefore, faced the challenge of having to find something that tied all these pieces together.

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Photograph by Milagros Morsella (http://www.milimorsella.com/)

How to go around the exhibit

Cyroulnik was up for the challenge. Instead of creating a sort of timeline, he constructed the exhibit so that it was more of a conversation between the pieces. The best thing to do then is to go around “Diagonal Sur” looking for the possible relationships between these remarkable pieces.

While this self-led journey through the exhibit is not only possible, but also quite enjoyable, Cyroulnik let us in on the map he had in mind when he put the whole thing together. The idea is to begin in room 27, which features works by Jorge Macchi, Roberto Jacoby and Gabriel Valansi, among others. Then you want to move onto rooms 23 and 23b, room 21 and finish in room 22. Once you’re leaving the exhibit, you’ll go by a small room with works by artists like Nicola Constantino – her photographs of eye surgery are particularly interesting – and Matías Duville, with his beautiful piece “Back to the garden” on display.

Photograph by Milagros Morsella.
Photograph by Milagros Morsella (http://www.milimorsella.com/)

Things to keep in mind

Again, the idea here is that you can go around the exhibit and decipher out the relationships between the pieces for yourself, but here are a few hints of what the curator thought of when he set them up. The pieces in room 27, for instance, were put together with an urban concept in mind. There’s a drawing of Macchi’s residence in Paris, and two photographs of ads on sidewalls by him, as well. He even saw what he called “the memory of a city” in the abstract painting by Pablo Siquier, and included Jacoby’s famous writing on old newspapers so as not to leave out the media outlets that define our urban spaces.  

Other rooms will feature works that are more evidently put together by color, forms or even themes. Pieces by Mariela Scafati and Fabián Burgos are clearly put together for using different shades of pink and red, a criteria that will also be used with pieces in yellow and with themes such as nature and fairy tales. On a closer look, you’ll notice pieces like Marcelo Grosman’s pictures of convicted criminals, called “Guilty”, wittly placed right in front of Mariana Telleria’s “Estás en todos lados”, which features Christian crosses made out of intersections in frames.

We see what you did there, Phillippe. Photograph by Milagros Morsella (http://www.milimorsella.com/)

Don’t miss the only dark room within the exhibit, where pieces by artists like Fernanda Laguna and Sebastián Gordin will have you transfixed in a way most associate with swoon worthy nightfalls and star filled skies.

Diagonal Sur closes some rooms on March 6th and the rest on March 27th.
For more details, visit this website.