From B.A. to L.A.: Mondongo, Tessi, Iuso, Prior, and Grinblatt

Exhibition Catalogue Available

January 8 to February 12, 2005

Track 16 Gallery presents "From B.A. to L.A", an exhibition of contemporary Argentinean art featuring Julio Grinblatt, Guillermo Iuso, Alfredo Prior, Juan Tessi, and the collective Mondongo. The exhibition, curated by Kevin Power, brings together five distinct voices working with poetics of the everyday. The works “marked by irony, a lightness of touch, intense perception, critical spirit, ambiguity, laughter, and stories that never reach a final reading” reveal moving, telling, and often vulnerable images of the self. The exhibition runs from January 8 to February 12, 2005, with an opening reception on January 8, from 6 to 8 P.M. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 6 P.M.

During the mid 1990s Argentina was lauded as an economic miracle after its leaders decision to peg the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar in order to gain foreign investor confidence. This endeavor failed, however, causing an economic disaster which left half the population at poverty level. Paradoxically, this spawned a major creative boom in the Argentine art world, in literature, cinema, and the visual arts. New and alternative art spaces emerged, igniting the art scene; some of the artists in this exhibition have shown their work in these venues as well as in more well known galleries.

In his series entitled Pasillos (Corridors), photographer Julio Grinblatt creates a stark narrative using spaces both alluring and familiar: corridors and stairwells. These spaces are empty while at the same time seemingly infused with voices and absence, thus creating the human predicament of waiting for the imminent, whatever it may be.

Guillermo Iuso’s work consists primarily of autobiographical installations that make sense of unbridled emotions. These emotions are then harnessed into fragments and lists: he maps his own life with long dissertations of statistics and personal obsessions, from the ordinary and banal to the most intricate of personal experiences, to produce an intimate diary that registers the movements of his life.

One of the most well-known Argentinean painters of the 1980s, Alfredo Prior, exhibits a series of paintings of freak postmodern characters on vinyl records, perversely bringing together the world of art, religion, and childhood nostalgia. In his piece Silly Symphony, the subjects “little bears” are painted on twenty seven discs set out like a chessboard in an attempt to intensify the patheticism of representational conventions.

The prefabricated clichés of homoeroticism which flood the Internet as well as an obsession with the canon of perfection of the male physique, are apparent in the elegant fluid line drawings of Juan Tessi. Tessi's large-scale, realistic renderings reveal  almost photographic detail, yet they take on different connotations from their source Internet images. Occupying Track 16 Gallery for two weeks prior to the exhibitions opening, Tessi will create a series of drawings reminiscent of black-and-white films; the immense delicacy and intimacy of his work relates both to the source of the image as well as its new context

Mondongo, a collective formed in 1999, includes artists Agustina Picasso, Manuel Mendanha, and Juliana Laffitte. Mondongo constructs a portrait gallery in which each work exhibits a play between material and personality:  Britney Spears with supermarket price tags, a mass consumption pop icon; David Bowie in glitter as a glam rock idol of the seventies; the Pope made out of communion wafers; the Spanish Royal Family composed of small mirror fragments. By using food, Mondongo comments on the bloated excesses of contemporary living; their Pornography series is created with cheap-brand biscuits that now litter the world like the images they represent. In La Caperucita Roja (Red Riding Hood), the medium is plasticine, evoking memories of childhood toys as well as a parallel to the slow process of oil paint. Mondongo seeks to undermine a variety of systems, whether it be the myth of the individual artist, the idea of institutional power, or the art system itself, and they do so by rooting themselves in the popular. It is in the popular that they find their material, the "ground zero" of consumer society: trinkets, cookies, sausages, jellybeans, and other ubiquitous items.