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Step Into a Parallel Universe: ‘Argentine Banksy’ Comes to MALBA

Leandro Erlich's sculpture and installation exhibit opens Thursday, July 4th.

By | [email protected] | July 2, 2019 1:42pm

LEANDRO-ERLICHPhoto via Sección Ciudad
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Do you love contemporary art for its ability to challenge the way you see the world – or for its ability to dial your Instagram’s aesthetic up to a full “artsy kween”? Either way (or perhaps both), Leandro Erlich‘s work is sure to surpass your wildest dreams. Over the past two decades, Erlich has achieved international fame for his ability to transform commonplace spaces into perceptual whirlwinds, undermining the ways viewers perceive these locations or perceive space at all. His exhibits are entry-points into his own personal parallel universe, where the rules of the material world are flipped upside down and mere spectators of art become its creators. What is most transient – like a cloud – adopts static physical traits, and what is most solid – like a basin of water – is nothing but an illusion.

Get ready to social media the hell out of your next museum visit, folks, because Elrich’s mind-binding installations are coming to MALBA this week.

Two children exploring the installation Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich (Photo courtesy of MALBA)

Liminal, an Elrich retrospective, will be officially inaugurated at the famed museum this Thursday, July 4th at 7 PM, but don’t worry if you’ll be too busy cracking open a cold one for U.S. Independence Day that night (at this fiesta at Chicken Bros perhaps?) because the exhibit will remain open through October 27th, 2019, giving you plenty of time to stop by for an iconic Swimming Pool pic for the ‘gram.

Liminal is the first survey exhibition of Erlich’s work to appear anywhere on the American continent, bringing together twenty-one of his installations from 1996 to the present into a single monolith. Curator Dan Cameron‘s intention with the exhibit is captured in its one-word title: he aims to situate the viewer in a “liminal space,” constantly on the verge of crossing over into another dimension without ever fully getting there. To remain on this liminal edge is to be stranded and trapped at the same time – caught between a past experience that can’t be regained and a future experience that can’t yet be accessed. Cameron, who previously served as Head Curator at the New Museum in New York for ten years, believes the exhibit will have a profound impact on viewers, leaving them with an intensified sense of such a duality.

In order to compel visitors to question their own certainty about the world around them, the art is deeply linked to the everyday lives of its spectators. Visuals throughout the exhibit include clouds, the subway, a classroom, the sidewalk, a pool, a beauty parlor, one’s neighbors, doors, and a vase of flowers. In each of these seemingly ordinary objects, the viewer will find something uncanny and will be shocked by the matter-of-fact manner in which the manipulation is presented.

Art by Leandro Erlich (Photo courtesy of MALBA)

Erlich was born in Argentina in 1973 and hosted his very first solo exhibition at the age of 18 at Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires, and since then has traveled the world, winning countless awards and fellowships for his work. His most recent exhibits at the MORI Art Museum (Tokyo, 2018) and the HOW Art Museum (Shanghai, 2017) attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. This July, he becomes the first non-Chinese artist to occupy the entire exhibition space of China’s premier museum, the CAFAM (Cultural Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing), with The Confines of the Great Void. He developed his signature installation Swimming Pool while still a student at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, Texas.

In 2015, his MALBA work for La Democracia del Símbolo captivated Buenos Aires, when he created the artistic illusion that the top of the iconic Obelisco had been cut off. To this day, his work focuses most on closing the gap between the museum or gallery space and daily life. He depicts the architecture of the everyday, always putting it into dialogue with the conceptual tensions between what we see and what is truth.

MALBA | Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 3415 | July 5 – October 27 | Wednesdays – Mondays, 12 PM – 8 PM | AR $200; free Wednesdays | More Info

Art by Leandro Erlich (Photo courtesy of MALBA)

Art by Leandro Erlich, featuring himself in the installation Swimming Pool (Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts of Houston)