Abstraction in Action Emilia Azcarate, Sigfredo Chacón, Emilio Chapela, Eduardo Costa, Diana de Solares, Marcolina Dipierro, Jaime Gili, Juan Iribarren, Bárbara Kaplan, Luis Roldan, Osvaldo Romberg, Horacio Zabala: Dirty Geometry https://abstractioninaction.com/happenings/dirty-geometry/


Artists: Emilia Azcárate, Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck, Cecilia Biagini, Sigfredo Chacón, Emilio Chapela, Eduardo Costa, Willys de Castro, Diana de Solares, Marcolina Dipierro, Eugenio Espinoza, Jaime Gili, Mathias Goeritz, Juan Iribarren, Bárbara Kaplan, Ramsés Larzábal, Raúl Lozza, Beatriz Olano, César Paternosto, Alejandro Puente, Luis Roldán, Osvaldo Romberg, Joaquín Torres García, and Horacio Zabala.

Dirty Geometry
December 2 -7, 2014
Curated by Osvaldo Romberg
Mana Contemporary
Miami, FL, USA

Dirty geometry has existed throughout 20th century art although not in a manifest way; it implies a subversion of the laws of logical rigor, systemism and utopian modernism that have pervaded geometry since Kandinsky. In his milestone book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky argues against geometry as decoration; instead, he promotes geometrical painting as a spiritual tool. The quest of the spiritual, of a balance between the mind and intellectual order constituted the fundamental idea behind geometric art. Geometrical abstraction was used in different times, as we see for instance in Kandinsky’s compositions, in the rigorous nihilism of Malevich’s “Black on Black”, and in the concrete iconography of Max Bill.

Through my concept of “Dirty Geometry,” I want to undermine the rigid, global imposition of geometry that has dominated from the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, other artists have already played with this approach more or less consciously: Rothko when he broke the grid, Frank Stella with his Cone and Pillars series from the eighties.

However I came to realize that Latin-America offers the most prominent examples of “Dirty Geometry.” First, this might be explained by the often rudimentary absorption of the center by the periphery, as peripheral access to major art trends has long been mediated by art reproductions, and perceived through local cultural prisms. This is even truer in Latin-America where most countries lacked a radical and contemporary art scene. Secondly, in Latin America one always finds forms of political and existential resistance against the values of neo-liberalism embodied by the center.

“Dirty Geometry” will question different aspects of American, Russian and European abstract art such as the imposition of polished finish on paintings, the compositions and the purity of its lines, classical applications of colors inherited from the Bauhaus, Concrete Art, etc.

In the forties for instance, the Latin-American group MADI challenged the format of the canvas, the relation between two and three dimensions, etc. In the sixties the Latin-America group of Kinetic Art in Paris challenged the static geometry produced by artists such as Vasarely and Herbin, and introduced movement, light and shadow to abstract art.

I would therefore suggest that Latin-America has proceeded to elaborate a kind of creolization of the dominant geometrical art; this is a recurrent phenomenon in other fields of Latin-American culture, and we encounter it in religion, education, food, inventions, etc.

The more figuration moves away from reality and representation, the more it needs to resort to theory in order to retain legitimacy. Geometry as we traditionally conceive it can only be legitimized by a tight, rigid theoretical framework. “Dirty Geometry” is therefore a rebellious attempt to break from all theoretical frameworks and thus invent a geometry that would be free from theory. This is a dirty war, one that we could define as “below the belt”.  George Bataille believed that “divine filth” brings about true eroticism; likewise, I would suggest that it is possible to bring about an eroticism of geometry through dirt.

November 24, 2014 Juan Iribarren https://abstractioninaction.com/artists/juan-iribarren/

Translated from Spanish

I work mainly in oil on canvas, although I also regularly produce works of paper in ink, pencil or color pencils, as well as photography series. I make a seemingly abstract painting, nevertheless based on the light that comes through the workshop on an empty wall, and how it affects color.

I depart from a lighting situation (of lights and shadows) that I observe and to which I remain faithful. I believe simultaneously in a geometric structure (given by the planes of light or sun rays on the wall), and the shapeless color fields applied gesturally (though my attempt to reach color and shape precision in light). The result is a collision between two types of painting apparently impossible to reconcile: an ideal geometric structure and an atmospheric, gestural and undefined painting.

Photography takes geometry beyond the oil paintings, transforming them in flat and immediate images. At the same time they speak about the effect of light on color, since they portray the paintings subject to new light situations that complicate color and confuse what is painted with what is captured with the photographic lens.

I am interested in the legacy of modern geometry, but subverting it through the confrontation with an opposing painting that allows the environmental, the soft, the mudded, and the polluted. I research through my works the equivalence, deceptively unrecognizable, between geometry and light.


Trabajo mayormente en óleo sobre tela, aunque tambien produzco regularmente obras sobre papel hechas con tinta, lápiz o lápices de colores, así como series de fotografías.  Hago una pintura aparéntemente abstracta, sin embargo basada en la luz que penetra en el taller sobre una pared vacía, y en como ella afecta el color.

Parto de una situación lumínica (de luces y sombras) que observo y a la cual me mantengo fiel. Creo simultaneamente una estructura geométrica (dada por los planos de luz o sol sobre la pared), y campos de colores informes aplicados gestualmente (en mi intento de lograr la exactitud de color y forma de situaciones de luz o luminicas tan cambiantes). El resultado es un choque entre dos tipos de pintura aparentemente imposibles de reconciliar: una estructura geométrica ideal y perfecta, y una pintura atmosférica, gestual e indefinida.

Las fotografías llevan mas allá la geometría presente en los óleos convirtiéndolos en imágenes planas e immediatas. Al mismo tiempo ellas hablan del efecto de la luz sobre el color, ya que éstas retratan los oleos sometidos a  nuevas situaciones lumínicas que complican el color y confunden lo pintado con lo captado por el lente fotográfico.

Me interesa el legado de la geometría modernista, pero esta vez subvertido a través de su confrontación con una pintura normalmente contraria que permite lo atmosferico, lo blando, lo turbio, lo contaminado. Investigo a traves de mis obras una equivalencia, aparentemente irreconciliable, entre la geometría y lo lumínico.

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October 5, 2013