Artforum Critics' Pick: Gustavo Dìaz at THE MISSION

Jun 5, 2012

Chicago
Gustavo Díaz
THE MISSION
1431 W. Chicago Avenue
April 27–June 30

At first glance, Gustavo Díaz’s drawing De natura sonorum invisibilis (Sounds of the Nature of the Invisible), 2011, seems premised on the smudge. Two fuzzy, roughly equivalent shaded areas, aligned vertically and connected by faint skeins of pencil lines, can be read in either abstract or representational terms: They bring to mind Peter Halley in soft focus, or a pair of lungs or kidneys. Get in closer, however, and a wealth of detail spills forth: The apparent contours are made up of countless tiny shapes, each filled with nearly microscopic stippling. In Díaz’s drawings and similarly intricate acrylic vitrines, this movement from further away to up close unveils obsessive virtuosity.

The Argentinean artist’s “Justificaciòn a priori” marks the one-year anniversary of THE MISSION, whose primary focus is Latin American art. Díaz’s sculpture draws on numerous Argentinean precedents: less discussed figures such as Rogelio Polesello and Margarita Paksa, who from the mid-1960s onward employed industrial materials to produce kinetic-Minimal hybrids. Yet within, and traipsing beyond, the limits of Díaz’s containers are thousands of details: smaller, meticulously cut acrylic pieces, side by side or one in front of the other, superimposed designs. With the exception of his drawings, the artist’s gesture is rarely apparent, but in truth the lines have been applied by hand, sometimes in vinyl or, in the case of Mutatis mutandis distantis, 2012, burnt on, with a slightly yellow hue.

Díaz’s lengthy, esoteric titles inevitably recall Jorge Luis Borges, but his maniacal detail engages a different legacy: the meditations of León Ferrari, Guillermo Kuitca, and others on 1970s state terror. Mapped onto the kinetic geometries of a more hopeful era, infinitesimal marks accumulate, encoding the social where it seems least likely to appear.

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Gustavo Díaz,