Cities and Peinetones*

María Inés Pagés.

The work of art is a game, that is, its true being cannot be separated from its own representation, from which emerges the unity, the sameness of any construction.

Hans-Georg Gadamer, Verdad y Método, 1975.(**)

Maria Silvia Corcuera presents her exhibition, Cities, consisting of collages and wooden objects that make for a different phase in her career as an artist.

For her, subject matter has always been a pretext, an excuse for playful practices; a key to develop a vast scope of rich possibilities and variations from a truly germinal idea. She has experienced the most diverse techniques and materials, achieving consequently an unique, unmistakable identity; a style completely of her own, utterly distinctive. Every so often, her work fluctuated between representation and abstraction, revealing quite different instances that eventually operate as a turning point from one phase to another. Formerly, her motifs appeared to be performed mainly through curves, reminiscent of organic, embryonic shapes, intrinsically fertile and intense. As soon as she started to explore and experiment over the field of jewelry design, she discovered the calm attraction, and the vast possibilities, of the straight line. These approaches provided her with strong references to architectural constructions, urging her inner options towards the adoption of the city as a main subject matter.

Chronologically, the first of the exhibited collages depicts a city view from a river, as a sort of unconscious tribute to the ancient voyagers that first set foot upon this land, those who would portray later, in their travel sketchbooks, the city of Buenos Aires. This particular body of work has two different, separated phases. The first one, painted in watercolor, depicts the river’s lengthwise section, with a certain decorative quality pervading upon it, that is bound to disappear in the upcoming pieces. The second phase displays an organized urban structure of superimposed buildings. All over these assemblages made of paper, wood and cardboard, her distinctive playful attitude is revealed through the joyous encounter of former traces. Again, it’s the blue from her first pieces, orchestrated with the slight touch that defines small surfaces, the textured and stripped color of her painted toys and, virtually mimetic to the building’s conglomerate, the appearance of some teeth from the ornamental peinetón*, the leading character in her laborious former phase. Other piece is a neat example of ironic duplicity. Pretending to be a ship, two superimposed cities merge with the stylized shape of the broken peinetón*. The lower black stripe is a fragment of an aerial view of a city seen in perspective. Upon this flat surface slightly irregular geometric figures are fixed. Its meaningful combination alludes to symbolized cities, where the generic concept of “Globalized City” meets the “Individualized City”- Buenos Aires -, identified through the colonial peinetón.*

The following works are ruled by the same principles, their images gradually becoming more and more simpler, their structure more and more severe. The conclusion arrives in a climax of total abstraction, where all presence turns out to be increasingly an absence. Even the collage’s titles begin to loose its meaning. The pieces are now more directly concerned with pure shapes rather than with narrative images from models. The original peinetón* has been dismembered into its body and teeth, which now arise or penetrate the cities as if they were taking possession of them. The peinetón* is set free now, eventually transformed into a geometric pattern that either grows - showing itself as a gigantic threat - or, broken into pieces, becomes a wheel, as if to provide movement to the city’s static condition.

As far as the objects are concerned, the rules of composition are similar to those of the collages. Built on wood, they stand as absolutely sculptural assemblages, with a powerfully rigorous presence, upon which the artist again puts away the joyous side of her approach. In some of them, their parts – a crowd of elementary, geometric patterns presided by the half moon - display themselves through a sort of frieze. In spite of the final image achieved, though, the formal structure does not pay tribute to geometry. Again, we are confronted with the idea of duality of the bi-frontal image, different in recto and verso. In other pieces, the artist combines a peinetón* upside down with urban patterns in the background, thus developing strange shapes reminiscent of the archaic. Finally, the playful approach returns through the wooden objects, impregnating the unexpected joint of mismatched objects with a meaningful and surprising transformation.

(*)peinetón: a kind of stylish , outsized comb , designed as an ornamental shell.

(**)frase traducida al inglés de la traducción castellana.