Sept 13 - Oct 6, 2007
by Marcela Cabutti & Monica Millan
CABUTTI | MÓNICA
Spanierman Modern is pleased to announce the opening
on September 13, 2007 of Argentine Arcadia, an exhibition
and sale of new works by the Argentinean artists Marcela
Cabutti and Mónica
Millán. Concerned with the notion that the work
of art consists of a coalescence of the viewer’s own
perception with the object, both artists—showing in
New York for the first time—create multi-leveled works
in a variety of media that explore the nature of experience.
Marcela Cabutti, who was born in La Plata, the capital city
of the Buenos Aires Province in Argentina, and currently lives
in Buenos Aires produces an art of fantasy and magical transformation
that can be associated with Surrealism. However, her pieces
are more specifically connected with the rich Argentinean
literary tradition of Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar,
Silvina Ocampo, Manuel Puig, and Ernesto Sábato, whose
writings Cabutti has passionately absorbed, along with that
of the Uruguayan writer Marosa di Giorgio and the Japanese
writers Tanizaki and Kawabata. As in the short stories of
Borges and Cortázar, shifting points of view and a
metaphysical sense of time and place are essential aspects
of Cabutti’s work. For the artist, a challenge has been
to capture the narrative moment and the varying perspectives
of literature in visual form. Making us see with a child’s
sense of innocence and magic, her works are multi-layered,
with naïveté often overlaid with a self-conscious
awareness, while sometimes it is the other way around. Indeed,
usually there are several levels of recognition and experience
in her art.
A flower of epoxy and resin is blue and large, evoking the
surprise of a child discovering it in a garden, yet the flower
also seems over-mechanized and perhaps too blue, as if to
remind us that a garden itself consists of controlled and
transformed nature. Her landscapes, enclosed within glowing
, boxes, have an antediluvian look, like mountains and lakes
in a formative stage, yet that a landscape could be boxed,
and that a small box could represent a larger world, is recognized
by the way that Cabutti has “gift-wrapped” these
forms. There is a metaphor in the way that these simply made
watery landscapes have been set within complex constructions,
wired electrically. Even the volcano within a box is less
complicated than its outer packaging.
Cabutti has also used photography to invert layers of reality.
Epoxy and resin cacti stand against photographs of these sculptures.
While the images seem larger in scale than their source, they
are no less real than the epoxy creations—made to seem
perhaps more diminutive than they would without this juxtaposition.
For other works, Cabutti has made silver-colored epoxy leaves
and hung them on a real tree, which she then photographs.
In her final images, the epoxy leaves are hung onto the photographs
including images of them. A group of nine painted blue women
add further to Cabutti’s plays on reality. All the women
have the same bodies, reflecting submissiveness, yet their
differently sprouting-plant heads convey their inner spiritedness;
although evoking the garden in a child’s imagination
coming to life at night, an adult awareness and sense of irony
preside among these succulent creatures.
Sophisticated in their process, Cabutti’s works remind
us of the bittersweet desire within each of us to freeze our
childhoods with the knowing awareness of this impossibility.
Mónica Millán, who was born in San Ignacio,
in the Misiones Province of Argentina and currently lives
in Buenos Aires, creates lavish and sumptuous “gardens”
and “rivers” that flow, surge, and roil. These
works evoke the movement of water, subterranean realms, overfilled
gardens, picnics by the sea, luxuriant tropical jungles, but
the forms in these works are not natural; none are even individually
or botanically recognizable, and they are made of constructed
materials, foreign to their subject matter. Millán
has transformed a natural world into a fantastic version of
itself, a child’s idealization of nature, a fairy tale,
or a pure expression of nature’s freedom. There is also
a sense, though, of beauty taken too far, to such an extreme
as to stir up a sinister undercurrent of possible danger and
tension. As the artist has built her works three-dimensionally
within space, the uncertainties of distance and scale evoke
our ambiguous relationship to nature.
Then, standing back and taking a more distant perspective,
we are aware of these creations for their craftsmanship. Although
Millán’s process involves acting on instinct,
the work is clearly labor-intensive and obsessive, consisting
of embroidering, braiding, beading, and knot-tying, which
she uses to produce intricate connections, tiers, and overlays.
The works seem to lack seams and edges, making it extremely
difficult to follow the twisted skeins and determine what
holds these pieces together. Yet we cannot stand back passively
and pensively. It is necessary to let go of our sense of space
and the need to quantify and identify. Only by becoming involved
in these works can we receive what they have to give us; we
can only get energy out of them by putting in energy of our
Millán’s drawings have a similar effect of calling
our attention first to their sheer visual splendor. Natural
and floral forms seem to materialize and bloom as if by magical
invocation against monochromatic fields of miniaturistic detail.
On a closer look, we become aware of the artist’s meticulous
draftsmanship and wonder at a process that involves working
in the dark from a single projected beam of light.
While invoking the history of Arcadian imagery, from the
eighteenth-century dreamscapes portraying lush bowers through
French Impressionist celebrations of suburban outdoor amusements,
Millán’s interactive nature-based fairy tales,
in needing our engagement, are ultimately metaphors, calls
to leave behind our jaded and dispassionate selves.