The Power Plant

Ignacio Iturria

Ignacio Iturria

Past Exhibition

Sep 23 – Nov 19 2005

Ignacio Iturria 24 September - 20 November, 2005 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Curated by Wayne Baerwaldt

The Power Plant presents the first exhibition in Canada of Montevideo-based painter Ignacio Iturria. Iturria’s quirky figurative-abstract style and humanist subject matter invariably reveal through their conceptual patterning a human iconography of the Americas. Lilliputian figures – either frozen in limbo, busy with daily tasks or in the thrall of an embrace – inhabit segregated, sparsely furnished rooms, illuminated by dangling bare light bulbs. They occupy basic urban high-rise shelters, built in the brutal Modernist concrete style common to the Americas. Iturria’s anonymous apartments are containers for humans, with expansive windows, portals to the larger world of shared human experience, and can be seen as symbolic of the surreal psychic turmoil endemic to urban life in Latin America. Viewed through Iturria’s microscope, domestic space becomes an inhabited monument to both the banal modernity of contemporary living and the private hell of solitary confinement in the mental health ward.

Iturria repeatedly returns to the theme of the "contained human." He often renders the human figure pictographically, reduced to its bare essentials, just as he strips down living spaces to their essential furnishings, transforming them into cellblocks or theatre sets with a distant window or skylight or, occasionally, a barren doorway in the background. These dramatic skylights and doorways always seem just out of reach, although even a glimpse of an unexpected exit may come as a relief in one of Iturria’s desolate interiors.

Iturria’s painted support structures contain and reinforce the quirky, handcrafted qualities of his forms. His "cupboards" may have imposing dimensions (ranging up to six feet in height), but on closer inspection their temporary, fragile nature is revealed in their warped surfaces, made of thin layers of paper, cardboard and paint. These buckle and bend as elements that are never quiescent. His largely barren cupboards and his more recent eviscerated, pop-up-picture coffee tables are sentries that mimic the stark, abstract high-rises – or human containers – depicted in his paintings. Some pieces may recall the cement-encased wooden furniture sculpture of the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo; however, Iturria’s forms are more whimsical than the haunted sentinels of Salcedo. If nothing else, the vacuity of their sculptures mirrors the artists’ respective memories of repressive political systems – right-wing military juntas that are common to the histories of many South American countries. Iturria adopts a grid format reminiscent of the abstract art of the 1950s and 1960s as his organizing language. Nevertheless, his metaphorical vocabulary remains historically and regionally disparate, showing stylistic traces both of Salvador Dali’s Cadaqués-inspired Surrealism (Iturria experienced this seaside Catalonian village during a ten-year residence in Spain beginning in 1977) and the grotesque forms of the American painter George Condo. Each of these influences reflects traditions in academic Euro-American abstraction, whose own true roots are firmly entrenched in the forms of pre-Columbian art and Peruvian textiles.

Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Mixed media. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Photo: Rafael Goldchain.