Square Roots 2000 Winter

Square Roots: Paul Bowen, Eduardo Costa, Liz Deschenes, César Paternosto, David Cabrera, Marta Chilindron, MP Landis, Ladd Spiegel

Recalling the square, our modern art-historical memory delves back to Mondrian's pilgrimage from nature to the Neoplastic and Malevich's archetypal Suprematist icons. Drifting onward along time's line, we unearth Albers' mid-century series, "Homage to the Square," and a vast sweep of color fields. And in more recent recesses, the mind most likely alights on one or another Minimalist slab. The square - on the surface so very simple, with its four sides of equal length, four angles of equal degree - has served the twentieth century's artists graciously, comprising and conveying manifold meanings just by being its ever-accommodating self.

In its more recent incarnations, this repository, like any malleable entity, has perhaps suffered at the hands of its interpreters. Emerging in the infancy of abstraction as a lofty conduit to metaphysical consciousness, a cipher of the fourth dimension, the square becomes, by the 1960s, an emblem of the prefabricated industrial object, a cold symbol of Carl Andre's "significant blankness," a tabula rasa forbidden inscription. What woeful injustice for the shape the ancients imbued with the power to fend off plagues, the shape from which the logarithmic spiral of shells and celestial nebulae springs, the shape that, given three dimensions, promised protection from a deluge of evils, until Pandora lost her will.

It is a vital pleasure, then, to find the square, of late stripped bare, redeemed in "Square Roots," an exhibition of painting and sculpture by eight contemporary artists who reinfuse the quadrilateral (a few rectangles sneak in) with history, humanity, tactility, and spirituality. Ladd Spiegel, curator, is the second of Cecilia de Torres' artists to present a show contextualizing a loose family of Constructivist-inspired artists.

[Excerpt from the essay: Square Roots: Contemporary Quadrilateral Literalism with Heart by Jennifer Liese, editor of Provincetown Arts magazine.]

Full essay by Jennifer Liese

Eduardo Costa

Eduardo Costa is an Argentine artist who lived twenty-five years in the US and four in Brazil. He started his career in Buenos Aires as part of the Di Tella generation and continued to work in NYC, where he made a strong contribution to the local avant-garde. He collaborated with American artists Vito Acconci, Scott Burton, John Perreault and Hannah Weiner, among others. In Brazil, he participated in projects organized by Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Antonio Manuel, Lygia Clark, and others from the school of Rio. His work has been discussed in Art in America, Art Forum, and in the main books on conceptual art: A. Alberro, MIT, 1999; P. Osborne, Phaedon, 2002; Mari Carmen Ramírez and Héctor Olea, Yale/Houston Museum of Art, 2004; Inés. Katzenstein, MoMA, New York, 2004, Luis Pérez- Oramas and others, San Antonio Museum of Art, 2004; Luis Camnitzer, University of Texas, 2007, among others. Eduardo Costa ́s work has been exhibited at the New Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Queens Museum of Art, Queens, New York; List Art Center, Boston; Miami Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Minnesota, MOMA, Buenos Aires; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, among others. A current project is to manufacture 30 Duchamp/Costa bicycles inspired by a 1980 model, for an exhibition on Duchamp-based work curated by Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern) for the Jumex Foundation in Mexico City. 

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Marta Chilindron

b. 1951, La Plata, Argentina – lives in New York City since 1969

From her early veristic paintings to her contemporary sculptural installations, Marta Chilindron has created art which explores perspectival, temporal, and spatial relationships. In the 1990s, Chilindron began experimenting with furniture forms, altering their shapes to reflect her point of view in relation to physical space. In 1998/2000 the artist began making collapsible, geometric sculptures in transparent colored acrylics, using hinges to allow movement. These pieces entreat the viewer to manipulate and change their shape.

In 2010, Chilindron was invited to create a public installation as part of the Fokus Lodz Biennale in Poland, and her sculptures were featured as a special project at the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, California in 2013. The artist had a retrospective exhibition at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts in 2014, and at Point of Contact Gallery at Syracuse University in 2018. Chilindron is currently working on Houston Mobius, a large-scale sculpture commissioned by the University of Houston for the inauguration of their Temporary Public Art Program. She has been invited by El Museo del Barrio to be part of their "Diálogos" section at New York’s 2019 Frieze Art Fair.

Chilindron's artworks are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; the Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; El Museo del Barrio, NYC; the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL;  the State University of New York (SUNY), Old Westbury, NY; Fonds D’Art Contemporain de Ville de Geneve, Switzerland; IBEU Cultural Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as numerous international private collections.

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César Paternosto

b. 1931 La Plata, Argentina – lives in Segovia, Spain

After beginning his career working in an informalist mode, followed by a brief period of lyrical figuration, Paternosto first created artworks based on Geometric Abstraction in the early 1960s.  By the end of this decade, his formal and theoretical explorations led the artist to push beyond the very boundaries of the medium of painting.  Leaving the surface of the canvas blank, Paternosto shifted the emphasis of his artworks to their outer edges, converting his paintings into objects, and rebelling against the inherited tradition of only viewing paintings frontally.  Since this breakthrough, he has remained on the vanguard of abstraction in both New York, where he lived for over four decades, and Latin America. 

In addition to his career as a painter, Paternosto has studied Pre-Columbian art with academic rigor.  This expertise has  not only influenced his artistic practices, but has also led him to assume scholarly and curatorial roles, including the international exhibition, Abstraction: The Amerindian Paradigm. In 2005, the artist moved to Segovia, Spain, where, just a year prior, a major retrospective of his work had been on view at the Esteban Vicente Museum of Contemporary Art.  Paintings by Paternosto are found in various prestigious collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland; and the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany, amongst others.  

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