No. 15 – January-March, 1995
The Ruth Benzacar Art Gallery exhibited, during the month of October, a set of works by Liliana Porter. Born in Buenos Aires in 1941, Porter has lived in New York since 1964. Today, she is one of the most prominent artists in the national and international art scene as a notable representative of Latin American production.
In her works, she proposes games between the real and the imaginary with an impeccable technique that combines acrylic, collage, and serigraphy. Truth and falsehood are conjugated in a series of conceptual games, evoking a certain familiarity with the riddles of the language of the surrealist René Magritte, whom the artist considers an important reference in the elaboration of her poetics. Porter creates her works by composing the image on a table in her New York studio. This is the moment before the execution, when she gathers and juxtaposes, in an eclectic way, the elements that will populate her paintings. In this stage, she chooses some of the postcards that illustrate paintings from the official history of art, which are those that integrate her personal sphere of interests, influences and artists that, in some way, have delineated the plot of her aesthetics. Along with these images, she adds objects, toys, ornaments, and souvenirs from her private world. Some of them are recurrent in most of her works, such as the image of a ship — memory of exile and metaphor of the journey. Like a scenographer, she assembles and mounts the scene where her own representation will take place. She then proceeds to photograph the ensemble, which is subsequently taken to the canvas or paper in a tautological operation that combines the mixed technique of printing, collage and painting.
The meaning of her work comes from the elements that the artist chooses to put together this puzzle. Icons with strong social content, such as the image of Che Guevara, coexist in it with absolute indifference with other forms of anti-culture and icons of advertising and mass media: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, among others.
The banal and the real are mixed in a plot where the apparent contradictions are diluted. A real toy, a painted one, a little shelf stuck on the canvas; everything shares the same existence, as in the current discourses of art, in which theories and questionings proliferate and end up appearing, like other values, in the very phrase of circulation and consumption.
Porter’s work problematizes the generalized aestheticization promoted today by the products of the subculture, its strategies of simulation and seduction, and the introduction of the non-artistic into the field of the aesthetic. In a slow-moving manner that appeals to silence and introspection, Porter works with a bipolar analytical attitude: the polarity of visual seduction with the formal resolution of “beautiful appearance” and theoretical reflection with conceptual roots, in an atmosphere of great poetic intensity.
BY LAURA BATKIS