Pablo Suárez (1937-2006) – A journey through 45 years of the career of an artist who marked the cracks of the system with the critical tone of social realism.

Sunday, May 21, 2006.

Pablo Suárez was born in Buenos Aires in 1937. He studied at the Ward School in Ramos Mejía, and in 1955 he entered the School of Agronomy, soon dropping out to pursue his artistic practice. He celebrated his first individual exhibition in 1961 at the Lirolay Gallery with a prologue by Alberto Greco. In the 60’s he was part of the Di Tella group of artists. He is linked to critical conceptualism in the “Experiencias 68”, when he submitted his letter of resignation to the Di Tella at the door of the Institute. Also in 1968 he participated in “Tucumán Arde”, together with Roberto Jacoby, Juan Pablo Renzi and León Ferrari, among others.

In the 70’s Suárez retired to San Luis, and later to Córdoba.  He adopts a realistic style, without avant-garde intentions, referencing the painting of Argentine artists such as Fortunato Lacámera. He paints the series of malvones and still lifes. Returning to painting and taking distance allowed him to reflect on how to return to the art world, but with a change of tone. If at the end of the 60’s the historical situation demanded the dissolution of the work of art in the social praxis, Suárez felt it necessary to recover the artistic object and fill it with intensity so that art could once again become a weapon loaded with meaning. From the 80’s on, Suarez adopts a critical tone of social criticism to show the cracks of the system, no longer resigning to it, but looking for strategies of insertion that make an effective message possible. For this he relies on popular art, with the narrative structure of Spanish polychrome imagery and the ironic language of artists such as Molina Campos, Medrano and Juan de Dios Mena and the local style of Gramajo Gutiérrez and Estanislao Guzmán Loza. He adopts a realistic and occasionally grotesque style, in a line that also brings him close to Antonio Berni’s production. He takes elements from the comic culture of Aesop’s fables, irony and mockery. The ambivalence of humor allows the artist to establish a judgment on the commented reality in an oblique way, causing a dramatic reflection in the spectator on that which at first seemed funny. In his 45-year career, Suárez has dealt with various topics. The dubious taste of the nouveau riche, the intermediation of art, social climbers, double standards, destinies and social exclusion. In 2005 Suarez wanted to move away from the declamatory tone, when he perceived that mass criticism was beginning to become a media tool, thus losing its critical tone to become a message trivialized by the media. In works such as Beau Geste (Beautiful Gesture, 2005) the theme of his last period was the solidarity of body-to-body work and the small daily acts of anonymous people, carried out with no other intention than solidarity and unselfish help. Pablo Suárez was a cult reference in all generations, both for his work and for his conversations in which he debated ideas about art and life.  In 1999 he moved to his home in Colonia, Uruguay. He died in Buenos Aires of kidney cancer on April 15, 2006.