Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this essay published in 1985, educator and literary critic Roberto de Espada describes the situation of the visual arts in Uruguay in the sixties. He analyzes how informalism was assimilated and internalized by important artists in the country and describes different variations in technique that emerged from abstraction. The article attests to the revisionist and historiographic attitude characteristic of the restoration of democracy in 1985.

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During the sixties and early seventies, many intellectuals continued to embrace a Sartrean existentialism that first made itself felt in the fifties. Driven by a utopian spirit that demonized the market, the mass media, and the excesses of consumer society, many artists assumed an iconoclastic stance. That position was behind “informalism,” a movement whose origins can be traced back to Jean Fautrier (1898–1964) and his interpretation of the nihilism that arose in the wake of World War II. In Uruguay, informalism was bolstered by the 1960 exhibition Espacio y color en la pintura española de hoy, known as the exhibition that Antoni Tàpies and Alberto Burri held in the country during that period. Local informalism was described as “a style” where the painter engaged the material directly on the canvas or surface in a spontaneous gesture, leaving the sign or calligraphy of immediate and vigorous actions. Only on very few occasions did Uruguayan informalists turn their backs on easel painting. In 1959, informalism was institutionalized in Buenos Aires at the Museo de Arte Moderno—which showed work by Alberto Greco, Kenneth Kemble, and others—owing in part to Jorge Romero Brest’s theoretical work in the Río de la Plata. Exhibitions in the region by Tàpies and Burri, as well as the launching of the São Paulo Biennial, also helped shape the new informalist aesthetic.

According to the text, Lino Dinetto was one of the pioneers of informalism in Uruguay. Originally invited to Montevideo from Italy to decorate churches, Dinetto later concentrated his efforts on teaching and disseminating abstract art, building ties between artists. Another point of reference was Américo Spósito, who worked with color-light, marking contrasts between the opaque and the bright (he called them “the full and the empty”) in complex compositions with winding brushstrokes. Another important figure in Uruguayan informalism was Óscar García Reino, with his intimate and romantic works. Others like Vicente Martín, Julio Verdié, José Cúneo, Raúl Pavlotzky, Hugo Mazza, Nelson Ramos, Andrés Montani, and Manuel Espínola Gómez also experimented with informalism.

Researcher
Marina Garcia, Gabriel Peluffo
Location
Archivo Gabriel Peluffo