Cecilia Biagini: Agua Viva
The exhibition will be on display from January 30 - March 16, 2019
RUIZ-HEALY ART 201-A East Olmos Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78212
Opening Reception Wednesday, January 30, 2019 | 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Ruiz-Healy Art is pleased to present Cecilia Biagini’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery featuring recent works in painting, sculpture, and sound. Agua Viva opens to the public with a reception on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Cecilia Biagini and Iloa Biagini-Rosenbaum will perform during the opening improvised pieces with sounds and movements inspired and in response to the works in the exhibition.
Working within the borders of geometry, Biagini explores the properties and relations between abstraction and construction, appearance and disappearance, lines and surfaces, as well as form and structure. “Aguaviva” is the Spanish term for jellyfish and the literal translation for “water alive.” Biagini draws inspiration from the movement of the body’s rhythmic contractions while underwater. Utilizing a bold sense of color and line she juxtaposes chaos and order. Biagini states she “cannot avoid the nature of improvising with tools, as she creates a system that allows [her] to work beyond [her] expectations.”
Her paintings depict transparencies, curvilinear structures, and visible impressions, in dialogue with wall reliefs. Biagini’s sculpture and sound works are constructed with the repetition of one element and the transformation that occur within the process. She maintains the value of innocence and exploration in her exhibition Agua Viva.
Cecilia Biagini currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received the Photography Critics Award from the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC, 1989) and was a recipient of the Guillermo Kuitca Scholarship in 1994, and then again in 1997 when her work was shortlisted for the Braque Award and the Gunther Award in Buenos Aires Argentina. In 1998 she moved to New York, where she co-founded the exhibition space The Hogar Collection, in Brooklyn. Biagini is currently featured as part of MoMA P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center’s Studio Visit, a virtual presentation of artists’ studios. Her work is included in many collections including MACBA Museum collection, Buenos Aires; The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX; The New York Public Library, New York and Ministerio de Educación de la Nación Argentina
Founded in 2004 and located in the historic Olmos Park District of San Antonio, Ruiz-Healy Art specializes in contemporary art with an emphasis on Latinx, Latin American, and Texas-based artists. To request high-resolution images and more information about the exhibition, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-804-2219. Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM and by appointment.
Cecilia Biagini: Agua Viva will be on view through March 16, 2019.
Galeria Van Riel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August, 2018
Working freely within geometry, Argentine artist Cecilia Biagini explores the boundaries set between space and media, traditions and geography in this recent body of work made in her East New York studio.
Though abstract, Biagini’s paintings set a space for visual action. The interaction between curved lines and blocks of color create shapes and give them density. However paradoxically, these same processes dismantle the shapes in the canvases rendering them shapeless and deconstructing them.
The artist’s relieves incorporate this playful artistic process as well. These are constituted by a group of straight, monochrome, rectangular blocks. What at first sight appears as a unity or a unified composition, is actually created by independent shapes on the wall.
While working in New York, Biagini recovers the rich traditions of Latin American abstraction where women artists have been active participants since the 1930s such as Argentine artists Yente and Lidy Prati. This recent body of work crosses lines between media, artistic traditions and geographies.
Clemente Soto Velez, NY NY, September, 2017
Remembering, Constructing, Inventing
“The island was only visible for a few moments, but the air was so clear, and the sea framed it which such cruel thoroughness that even the smaller details would implacably adjust to the memories of the previous passage”
Julio Cortázar, The Island at Midday
Cardboard trees, narrow paths through lush spaces, gypsum coral, a green foam rubber lake, fragile cotton clouds, a flaming tulle fire, and a ladder suspended in the air form an evanescent space like memory; which artists Dolores Furtado and Cecilia Biagini evoke from their experience as migrants in New York.
The installation presents a lively island that may hide a hint of what it sometimes means to migrate: the constant reminiscing, the overlap of a physical and a mental landscape, the acceptance of an agreement for a better survival. The urban nature of the materials contrasts with the natural illusion of this environment; while at the same time this island of memories and fantasies changes to resemble that other island they now live in.
Instead of a recreation of nature, the exhibition can be thought of as the reconstruction of a memory. What is a memory but the construction of a new territory? The idea is to delineate a human geography, a space made of little islands, small and inhabitable formations, disjointed, that are nothing but evocations born in that space between the conscious and the unconscious, where associations and scenes from the past cohabit with the present and a new reality. It is a simple exercise, neither solemn nor nostalgic, that proposes the idea of memory as an invention.
Verónica Flom, September 2017
Praxis International Art, NY NY, 2015
In order to question the reason behind stylistic transformations, one must necessarily be granted a retrospective outlook. Without the luxury of such historic distance, in the present experience of modern vertigo and urban life, one can only trust that authentic development will be unpredictable. This time-window gap is brief, but suffice to expose the fracture in Cecilia Biagini’s latest paintings, where far from the more explicitly structural drawing, a new constructive subtlety emerges.
Abstract painting will always be motivated by its own formal impulsion. Just like the Russian constructivists saw their utopic and heroic projects interrupted by post-revolutionary circumstances, Cecilia’s constructive spirit is paused here. The reticular plane is now de-composed, its constructivist roots appear slashed. Brief cuts on the surface air that bring to mind the original stab with which Lucio Fontana slashed the surface, enabling the exploration of space. Lines on flight, in an uncontainable rush, reveal the porosity of space, the skeletal background of things.
As in topology, the branch in mathematical sciences that studies the properties of space that are preserved in a geometric shape undergoing continuous deformations, Cecilia’s painting has undergone transformation, but retains its quality of space. Style has certainly shifted, but the physicality of her work remains untouched, such as that of a topological space. Insistent upon the creative process, she is geared by a schematic impulsion ever so articulate. But regardless of her incessantly varying painterly ways, beyond her impulsions, there lies a subjacent diagrammatic order. The pictorial novelty doesn’t erase the footprint of previous painting, but rather exposes the trace of the primitive grid, which remains visible, as in a palimpsest, subtext of the wounded constructivism.
This restless, probing, unrestrained draftsmanship crystallizes in the series of painted woods, sculptures constructed based on color fields. Color builds the plane and also the line; color is figure and background, form and content, building imagined architectures, freed from the tyranny of utilitarianism. Articulated fields of color make for these mechanical, transformable sculptures in the way of Gyula Kosice’s Röyi, Torres-García’s toys, Lygia Clark’s critters, and eventually, Gego’s reticulareas. Proto-kinetic works that contain the legacy of a genealogy of Latin American geometric abstraction, and at the same time germinate infinite possibilities in the movement of its pieces.
Parallel to the incessant variation of her painterly ways, Cecilia achieves permanence in her sculptural work. The multiple possibilities of their own re-structuring are contained within the sculptures, accounting for the immanence of this practice.
It might be a cry of victory for constructive rationalism; truth is Cecilia’s work inhabits a space in between abstraction and construction, two different ways of distancing away from mimetic representation. Abstract is the synopsis at the beginning of a scientific paper, a summary that overarches and contains a larger narrative. Rationale is the basis for a course of action, the logical grounds that dictate successive occurrences. Iconic as devotional objects, Cecilia’s work is both ideal and imperatively present.
New York, 2015
Ruiz Healy Art, San Antonio Texas, February 2013
Adrian Geraldo Saldaña
Reaching the Far Edge
We proclaim: For us, space and time are born today. Space and time: the only forms where life
is built, the only forms, therefore, where art should be erected.
-Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner, 1920
Naum Gabo and his brother Antoine Pevsner penned these words in the “Realist Manifesto,” proposing new applications of time, space, and mass in art. Inspired by the Russian Revolution and its potential for new a social and economic order, they laid out the tenets of the burgeoning Constructivist movement. Artists like Malevich and Lissitsky used geometric shapes and non-objective compositions to present a rational and scientific world. A new pictoral language of
grids and planes was forged, radicalizing color and form.
The preeminent Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia would create La Escuela del Sur after seeing the 1928 pre-Colombian art exhibit in Paris, "Les Artes Anciens de L'Amerique." His school linked European Constructivism with the geometric tradition in art found in indigenous American cultures. Torres-Garcia's Universal Constructivism would not privilege intellect over the spiritual, but find a balance to show the structure and rigor of elemental forces.
It is after these traditions that one finds the richness in Cecilia Biagini's body of work. She demonstrates a formal command over geometric abstraction, drawing out the more seductive aspects of mathematics and leaving the viewer with an experience of rhythm, of movement, of the ethereal. Her extensive body of work includes painting, photograms, sculpture, and mobiles (not to mention film and theater acting), and over time the work has unified; her common themes reflected with greater skill and in more succinct terms.
Biagini is first and foremost concerned with language and semiotics, developing sign-systems to translate elements from quantum physics to architecture. This communication is developed with a dynamic use of color and line to paint currents of air or water or energy. They undulate and swirl in lightening fast formations, while other works imagine sprawling and inert grids brimming with potential energy.
In the electric “Singular,” a yellow mass dotted with shards and squares rests suspended in space, poised to collapse upon itself like a black hole. Reaching into the subconscious she depicts cosmology and the primordial state. The viewer is confronted with most basic truths found in the mitochondria of a plant cell – phenomena like expansion, diffusion, replication.
Her layering technique with paint gives even her smaller-scaled works a sense of richness and profundity. Achieved through complex taping patterns, this saturation of the canvas produces a potent combination of hard edges and seeping paint spreads. This effect is exemplified in the painting "Relation of production," a diptych of cascading triangles over fields of blue. Hinting at a pair of abstracted maps, the shapes bleed past their angular borders to heighten our awareness of the medium's liquidity. The symbols resonate not only within their forms but in the interstices.
Biagini's photograms invert her painting style by flattening the composition and accentuating the transparency of the color exposures. The sumptuous "Reflecting on space" offers waves of red, blue, pink, and purple, while the more fractured "Super nova" is an ensemble of jagged fragments and layers, both atop a background of diamond grids. While seen also in "Relation of production," the gridded pattern more pointedly references Moorish architecture, another
historical source of geometric design.
"Intermitencias" is a more formal use of the medium, stacking squares to conjure a cosmic snapshot of matter in space, or even salt crystals under a microscope. Her use of the photogram technique itself harks back to the early experiments by László Moholy-Nagy, an artist greatly influenced by Constructivism. With a vivid color palette, she investigates a romanticism of the rational and continues her characteristic style of imbuing warmth to her subjects.
She uses large-scale format to great success in the painting "A state of infinite expansion,” making a conscious choice to restrict herself to shades of blue and interspersed whites. Squares and triangles join to make larger forms, not unlike an abstracted stained glasswork in a state of simultaneous fracture and cohesion. Any rigidity of this configuration is attenuated by subtle curvilinear strikes rolling across the canvas in echoes and swoops. "Subtle submersion" follows suit in its forms and palette, while presenting a cohesive and even monolithic structure.
These two paintings are complemented by the sculpture "Unexpected Materialism," a grouping of asymmetrical wooden block formations. Upon first glance the shared color palate is the initial connection between the works until one registers the effect of the varied cuts in the wood. The compression of blocks with faces at differing angles and lengths is a three-dimensional translation of the frozen motion of "A state of infinite expansion." The best vantage point to view the work is slightly to the right or left, when the shadows and unpainted surfaces give the
impression of the material shooting forward in space.
Biagini's sculptural practice is one the artist developed just over the last ten years, upon moving to Brooklyn, New York from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her sculptures are accumulations of wooden pieces, alternating between custom-cut blocks and items commonly found in hardware stores such as shims and moldings. These works are very precise articulations of the aesthetic language she has crafted over her career. The hard edges do not waver but she does make them
hum with activity.
Pieces like "Active reactive" and "Perspective of language" trigger feelings of instability, breaking from her earlier trend of forming gently curving structures. Imperfectly stacked formations isolate each shim with poking and jagged ends, dramatizing the forces of gravity
upon the delicate and precarious gestures.
The work "Designated significance" is a sculptural exercise of the classic grid pattern, subverting the flatness of Piet Mondrian while alluding to the equilibrium and tension of his trademark geometry. She has formulated a type of architectural maquette, offering an aerial-view of a futuristic urban complex with interlaced strokes of piquant color. The narrative is then tempered by the organic quality of the visible wood grain. Similar elements draw us towards "Far edge," the work that gives the exhibition its name, and the painting "Accounting space." The amalgam of grids combine into what could be maps of a metropolis or skyscrapers' facades. Both set against natural colored backgrounds they have a lightness unique to themselves, revealing an investigation of volume and negative spaces by the artist.
Cecilia Biagini follows a line of geometric abstractionists coming out of Latin America, though far from producing calculated or stringent works, she draws out the heat and the light of complex systems moving (imperceptibly) all around us. Her uses of symbology and language not only introduce the ephemeral into geometry, they give us endless invention and examination. A quiet and enduring revolution in the name of space and time.
Hogar Collection, Brooklyn NY, 2010
As Air, the latest solo exhibition of new painting and sculpture by Cecilia Biagini continues on a free-form journey that further contemplates the mysterious exploration of space, color, visual poetry and movement. Like drifting networks of spider webs fluttering in the wind and awaiting their prey, her works weave a complex system, that catches the viewer in ways that reveal and reflect the ephemeral building blocks that comprise multifaceted and infinite views of the mind’s labyrinth and its connections to universal inter-relationships. Evoking a visual sense that furthers the depth of perception into sublime models, the works skirt boundaries of the third and fourth dimensions where ideas postulate playful sensibilities of metaphysics engaging in a dialogue of complex and intricately simplified layers. With a loose and skillful use of layered line and geometry, the multiplicity of these building blocks combine a postulated model of life as we know it to exist with the realms of our unknowing yielding an abstracted sense of mysticism. They push at a visual essence where color and that which it hides and reveals, speaks about painting in the most basic aspects; the simple awareness of the medium and what it can do in it’s purest existence.
Hogar Collection, Brooklyn NY, 2008
Requests for Expansion
“The useless is beautiful because it is less real than the useful that extends and prolongs itself, while the marvelously futile, the gloriously infinitesimal, remains where it is- doesn’t stop being what it is, lives free and independent.”
Cecilia Biagini: Requests for Expansion
Language runs deep through Cecilia Biagini’s art. She openly confesses her fascination with linguistics and semiotics which she studies from a poetic perspective. Paintings done in Argentina have Spanish titles while the ones done in New York are in English. Her sculptures are lyrics composed of light and shadow, suspended, swirling and climbing up from the ground. Biagini’s paintings are epic structures, like plays, slow and carefully built. Individual intense sessions of performance, like endurance testing, sometimes five hours long, carve out from motion, the forms that become physical spaces of her photograms.
Echoes of the legacy of Jorge Luis Borges and Xul Solar’s mystical symbolism are reenacted in the darkroom setting where Biagini’s photogram process is dancer-like. She balances like an acrobat, with her metal bars, scissors in hand, the colored filters like those that cover the lights as on a stage. These are the materials of her photograms. The results are ghosts, with no trace of human touch, only magical results. They are the photographic documents of secret ceremonies. Symbols akin to Joan Miro’s constellations and cosmological forms emerge from the darkness in The Ladder Continues and Lateral Thinking.
“I am a nomadic wanderer through my consciousness,”
The passageways revealed in Biagini’s paintings follow the warp and weft of thread-like filaments and the angled planes of vast, boundless spaces. The bones of the paintings can be biomorphic or rectilinear, but the momentum remains. Biagini’s canvases propel the viewer carefully as though being guided through tall grasses. The visceral dimension is central to their playful interaction. The Radical Nature of the Memorable Thing invites free association and passage through time. In the mid 1940s, 'Madí' art in Argentina, attempted to combine abstract art inspired by Russian Constructivism with increased physical movement and randomness within the structure of the works. The hydrokineticism of Gyula Kosice, a Czech-born Argentine sculptor comes to mind. The purity of Biagini’s strong colors and clean lines is tempered with something elusive, something hiding in plain sight.
Both Epiphany and Pendulos with their arching, rhythmic forms swing between the poles. They evoke sensations not unlike William Blake’s celebrations and indictments of innocence and experience. The gradual erosion of line most evident in the contrasting lines of different weights in Transmission Circular, is sinuous dance of entropy and mixed signals.
Biagini’s sculptures are explorations into de-constructed form. Even the stabiles feel mobile and de-stabilized. Color is forced outwards and attaches to the ends of things. Units of measurement and support, dowels and shims, shore up the whirling masses, the shifting shapes of infinite continents and towers. Shadows endow the questions asked in these narratives with more ambiguity.
While performing in a Fernando Pessoa play in Buenos Aires in the early 1994-95, Biagini portrayed three sisters: one as a disembodied voice on a tape recorder, the other videotaped onto a TV screen, and one an actor on the stage. They were all together on a set, designed by Biagini, an apartment containing the sea. The artificial boundaries and the physical limitations of the stage reinforced the dislocation of the voices and the overlapping texts. Pessoa developed different identities for himself and his characters. By doing so, he changed the parameters of the conversation. These themes of alter egos and myriad illusions approximating truths continue in the current work of Biagini. Continued over page.
During the 'leaden years' of the military government during the 1970s, there was little space for alternative art and many left-wing artists abandoned art in favor of direct political action.
In 1983, that all changed. Biagini emerged in the early 1980’s into an age of pure artistic freedom. She spent her days at the age of 15, acting at night and painting during the day. As a result, her approach is multi-disciplinary as was her early induction into the artistic world. She transcends the limitations of the individual mediums and brings them together as a gestalt. They are quiet, ceremonial poems written in a language that looks strangely familiar, but is not instantly accessible to the brain.
“To pretend is to know oneself.” Fernando Pessoa
Leslie Lund, Independent Curator, New York, October 2008