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Gyula Kosice: The Insatiable Inventor

Apr 15

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4/15/2016 10:49 AM  RssIcon

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Movimiento de Arte Madí as well as the 92nd birthday of its founder and leading force, the sculptor and poet Gyula Kosice [Ferdinand Falk] (b. Kosice, Slovakia, April 26, 1924). Kosice, who immigrated with his family to Argentina when he was four, co-founded the group with the Uruguayan visual artists Rhod Rothfuss [Carlos María Rothfuss] (1920–69) and Carmelo Arden Quin [Carmelo Heriberto Alves] (1913–2010) in 1946. He invented the movement’s name, which he changed to “Madinemsor” after Arden Quin left in 1947.

Kosice’s lifelong passion for invention developed early in his life. As a child he was fascinated by Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of flying machines, submarines, and fortresses. When he was sixteen he selected as his artistic name Gyula, the first name of the Hungarian inventor Gyula Takátsy (1914–80), and Kosice, the name of his birthplace. After studying drawing and sculpture in independent academies and at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Kosice helped to spark a cultural revolution in Buenos Aires. Together with Rothfuss and Arden Quin he edited the magazine Arturo (1944), which would catalyze the formation of three avant-garde movements: the Movimiento de Arte Madí, the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (AACI) and Perceptismo. These groups sought to replace the predominant realisms of the Argentine arts scene with a kind of concrete art based on the principle of pure “invention.”

Under Kosice’s leadership, the Madí artists developed radical experimental approaches to art-making. They departed from the strict rationalism of concrete art to infuse it with ludic and mobile elements. Among their many innovations was the utilization of irregularly shaped canvases structured according to the composition, following Rothfuss’ proposal in Arturo. Kosice himself introduced the most striking Madí innovations: kinesis and viewer participation. In 1944, after experimenting with ludic compositions in bronze, steel, wire, and wood, he created Röyi, the first mobile sculpture of Latin America. The spectator could modify Röyi’s appearance by manipulating its eight articulated wooden elements. Röyi, which was featured in Kosice’s anthology Invención (1945), predated Lygia Clark’s Bichos by almost twenty years. Kosice also developed these concepts in his articulated Madí paintings, where the spectator could rearrange articulated color shapes on a wall. He is also well known for his revolutionary use of media. In 1946 he became the first artist to use neon light in reliefs like Estructura Lumínica Madí 6, well before his acquaintance Lucio Fontana or American artists like Dan Flavin or Joseph Kosuth popularized it. In the late 1940s he began to use Plexiglas, with which he achieved unprecedented effects with light and movement. In 1947 he became the first artist to employ water; after that water in movement became an essential element in his work. Starting the 1960s Kosice brought his hydrokinetic art to an architectural and urban scale, creating monumental works for public sites like the Hidromural Móvil for the Embassy Center in Buenos Aires (1967). Yet he did not stop there; convinced that one could “invent” the future and determined to create an aesthetic continuum, he created La Ciudad Hidroespacial, a utopian urbanistic and artistic project that proposed suspended habitats in space supported by the energy contained in water. Kosice’s insatiable inventive genius led him to experiment with digital art in the 1990s; his group TEVAT (Tiempo, Espacio, Vida, Arte, Tecnología), which he co-founded with the semiologist José E. García Mayoraz, the electronic engineer Ladislao P Györi, and the painter Alejandro Dron, applied Madí principles with new technologies. Last but not least, Kosice’s imaginative use of language in poems – and even a dictionary of invented Madí terms – greatly influenced Argentine literature and poetry.

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