Siquier at São Paulo 2004 Biennial

December 2004

This year at the São Paulo International Biennial, the Argentine pavilion caused a surprise with the presence of two huge murals by Pablo Siquier, drawn on the walls by the artist himself. It was the cheapest presentation in the history of biennials: Siquier traveled with a box of charcoals. The Argentine Chancellery was happy. Laura Batkis traveled to São Paulo especially for the inauguration and tells La Mano how the Argentine presentation went.

Pablo Siquier (1961) belongs to the generation that at the end of the ‘80s began to have prominence as an alternative to the prevailing neo-expressionism of that decade. His first works were colorful ornamental structures that he made based on automatist exercises. At that time, he was interested in raw art, Dubuffet, the idea of the primitive, children’s drawing, and the relationship between art and madness. Towards the ‘90s, his work fell into the neo-abstraction and neo-geo. Taking the architectural language, he began to draw graphic symbols with clear and precise edges. The decorative character of his beginnings gave way to an increasingly minimalist stripping of the image. On a gray background, the form was based on a simple scheme of representation: the brightness given by the whites and the shadows in black, on a vertical axis of the lines. The morphological variants gradually took on connotations linked to architectural rationalism, together with patterns taken from the music of Steve Reich and Brian Eno, repeating a motif as a cutout of an infinite texture. Manipulating styles of high and low culture, he created emblems with the characteristics of a formal hybrid with references to the alluvial tradition of Argentine immigration. This is how in his current work, there is evidence of art deco together with curves and moldings of the Latin American baroque and the influence of the Argentine concrete art of Raul Lozza. Today his works are reduced to black and white. The form is given by black lines of projected shadows. The two drawings that Siquier made in the Argentine pavilion of the São Paulo Biennial belong to this series. They are 5×10 meter structures of urbanistic organic growth, made in charcoal on the wall. Under the slogan of a “Free Territory” that Alfons Hug proposed for this biennial, the artist created a kind of oppressive prison with a strong dramatic presence given by the expressive stroke of the charcoal. Defying the general curatorial script, Siquier contrasts the idea of freedom as the choice of the desired prison.