Oscar Bony – Filo Espacio de Arte

No. 14. October – December 1994.

A new art gallery has opened in Bajo Retiro, an area in Buenos Aires where art galleries have historically been established. The opening of this space, called Filo Espacio de Arte, was accompanied with an exhibition by Oscar Bony curated by the marchand Alvaro Castagnino.

Oscar Bony (1941) is an artist who played a key role during the second half of the 1960s in the pursuit of experiences that attempted to merge both aesthetic and social aspects. He belonged to the group of artists who opposed the cultural ideas promoted by Jorge Romero Brest as director of the Di Tella Institute, which eventually closed in 1968, coinciding with the events that took place in France in May 1968. Following the idea of the death of art, he refused to exhibit in official venues and retired from artistic practice, settling in Milan until 1989, the year he returned to Argentina.

In this exhibition, Bony still shows a strong rebellious nature, with a proposal that challenges the established social order. His Obras de amor y de violencia (Works of love and violence), as the exhibition is titled, consist of a series of pieces of glass, blindex and crystal of different thicknesses, as well as metals, all perforated by the impact of guns of different calibers, mounted on golden frames of baroque opulence. The irony of the traditional painting, which is consumed by the art market, is completed with a bronze plate engraved in italic typography with an epigraph of each piece.

The whole set is a powerful reminder of the violence, power and doom of the human condition. Bony manipulates late-modern strategies of sensitive conceptualism, which operates simultaneously through a double approach. He contrasts the warmth of the frames, which metaphorically refer to the idea of a painting in a museum, with the distant coldness of the gunshots. The contrast is also evidenced by the different textures and qualities of the materials: the transparency of the glass, the brightness of the bronze sheets, the mirroring effect of the aluminum, the porosity of the lead corroded by acids, and the soft appearance of the melted lead. It is on these backgrounds that he shoots and pierces, creating a cut in the surface of the piece, similar to Lucio Fontana’s cuts.

With aseptic precision, he describes the type of firearm used for each case: Ingram 9 mm. machine gun; Four SW 32 short-barrel shots; Six revolver shots, and amongst others. The speech on power and violence is articulated in a process of aestheticization of the elements.  The exhibition is then completed with the installation Ella me tenía a mí como la muerte la tenía a ella (She had me the same way death had her), consisting of an armchair covered by a white canvas, on which a photograph of the infant artist in his mother’s arm is placed. 

The way in which the ideas of the forgotten and memory are used, become a reference point that Oscar Bony aims to address in this exhibition, this is, his personal experiences, and the collective memory that generates the values and feelings that constitute the essence of a community.