Cars and bicycles in Benito Laren’s exhibition “Locomotion”

Monday November 17th, 2003.

In Sonoridad Amarilla’s renewed gallery, Benito Laren (1962) presents his new exhibition, Locomotion. The excellent show defines an important change in the artist’s production. Laren began his career in the gallery of the Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas, which under the curatorship of Gumier Maier, brought together a group of artists that took the art scene during the 1990s, establishing a style for the time that grew further away from the revisited 1980s expressionism. Laren was born in San Nicolás, a city in the Buenos Aires Province, and pursued formal education in the field of chemistry, while experimenting sporadically with painting. He developed a particular technique, that consisted in painting with enamel and gluing shiny paper on glass, which is afterwards covered with another layer of glass. This way, the painting remains protected between two transparent layers. His early works contained a ludic and ornamental aspect, almost resembling decorative pieces found in the neighborhood of Once, where cheap merchandise is sold, or in a “Todo por 2 pesos,” a variety store. Now, Laren has polished his technique and presents objects that lack accessories or decorations, with impeccable finishing touches. He takes popular motives from the world of TV and combines them with resources of his interest. With absolute freedom, he appropriates Miguel Harte’s synthetic enamel backgrounds in trimmed frames resembling arabesques that remind us of Gaumier as well as of Beto de Volder’s “firuletes”. As in Cacho Fontana, these painting-objects enclose holed metal plates where the artist refers ironically to Lucio Fontana’s cuts (tagli) as well as the television anchor scandal, or La Fontana de Gloria Trevi, a piece related to the Mexican singer’s turbulent life. This apparent game always involves a parodic comment, where the story against the current events escapes solemnity through humor. In Bicicleta Financiera, there are two wheels with 420 ten-cent coins and 1 austral (an old currency of Argentina). Car doors with painted windows, collages or assamblages also stand out. La más cara de todas o Nilo veía, located on the door of a Fiat Duna, and A la puerta bonita show the aestheticized violence of a car covered in bullet holes right beside John Lennon’s image painted on the window, where the memory of the assassinated singer joins Oscar Bony’s work.