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David Siqueiros: the mural of discord returns to the foreground

David Siqueiros: the mural of discord returns to the foreground

The mural “Plastic exercise” that the Mexican David Alfaro Siqueiros painted in 1933 in the Buenos Aires country house of the owner of the newspaper “Crítica”, Natalio Botana, is located in the museum built on the ruins of the Taylor Customs. It occupies a decent space, if compared to the containers that for 17 years housed the Latin American master’s paintings outdoors. Be supposed to This masterpiece of art, already restored and expropriated by the legislative branch since September 2009, occupies its “definitive location”.

During the fierce struggles for ownership of the mural that sentenced him to painful confinement, the work suffered alarming heritage neglect. Today, “Plastic Exercise” shines in all its splendor. However, judicial issues become complicated, since no one is resigned to losing this formidable capital.. The supposed owners of the mural assure that the expropriation by Law 26,537 is unconstitutional and that “it is suspended by a Court ruling.” Through their lawyers, they announce that the exhibition agreement signed with the government has already expired.

“I am going to ask for the return of the work”, argued the lawyer from the Dencanor firm, after the celebrations of May 25, 2010. The amount that the State would then pay for the expropriation (12 million pesos) was not accepted. Dencanor purchased the mural in 1994 for $820,000, the highest value so far paid for a work of art in Argentina. In 2009, the fierce legal battle between those who invested money in the costly dismantling to remove the work from the villa and take it on tour around the world, it was not known if it had ended.

“Nothing is finished yet”clarifies these days Luis Porcellilawyer and representative of Dencanor, to an Argentine newspaper. “It was a loan with a promise of return and then a temporary export permit for the work to travel around the world. It did not happen and the expropriation was issued, something that according to the company is unconstitutional.”clarified the lawyer. According to him, those who consider themselves owners of the work are claiming it and threatening to sue the State for 200 million dollars. When a former senator who promoted the expropriation was consulted, he responded: “We know about long battles. In addition, we can pay for the mural with 30-year bonds.”

Is there speculation that in an impoverished Argentina like never before, no one is going to defend a work of art? Furthermore, how can you take a fragile painting of colossal dimensions on tour around the world? Would they cut the mural again to put it in containers?

“Plastic exercise” It is a rarity of muralism given its avant-garde imprint. The basement of the country house where Botana gave refuge to Siqueiros, a recalcitrant communist, when they were going to take him prisoner, was not ideal to put his own political statements into practice.. But, far from limiting himself to decorating a rich man’s basement, the Mexican concentrated on the analysis of visual problems and strengthened the relationship between art and technology; he manufactured an authentic machine of perception, anticipatory of kineticism.

Siqueiros avoided the political issue and the fans of his ideology replaced it with a marketing melodrama: the love triangle formed by the muralist, the powerful Botana and Blanca Luz Brum. The Uruguayan writer, beautiful and adventurous, supplanted aesthetic analysis. The forced permanence of the work with its erotic nudes in the darkness of the controversial tycoon’s basement, the revolutionary desires of Siqueiros, made up an explosive story. But the work, although few appreciate the artistic value, is much more than a serial: marks a milestone in the international avant-garde and refounds muralism.

Siqueiros explains the meaning of his work eloquently, saying that the mural is a machine intended to activate the viewer’s perception, who must travel it almost alone. Studying and addressing these claims is the responsibility of those who own it. “Plastic Exercise” is a fragile work and its conservation is an extremely delicate topic. The piece is a rarity that demands care for its specificity, it has an “aura” that must be protected.

Just like people, Works of art have “moral rights”: in fact, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works contemplates the right of the author to oppose any deformation or other modification or action that damages them.. With its special characteristics, the mural requires particular attention, such as recreating the intimacy of the place or making the films that its author so insistently demanded.

Before traveling to Buenos Aires, Siqueiros was already a friend of Eisenstein and worked with Disney cartoonists.. Thus he painted a work that aspired to movement, with the aim of having it filmed and conquer the mass art cinema audience par excellence. That is to say, he designed a matrix, he found a way for the work to transcend, without the need for any transfer and without cutting it into pieces. He would be hidden: the work would be free. If his writings had been taken into account, today the image of “Plastic Exercise” would be on all the screens and the story would be different.

However, now that the mural has just recovered its formidable visual attributes, it is worth asking: how could the aesthetic values ​​of this imposing painting go unnoticed, even in the eyes of the artists who worked with it? The harsh criticism of Berni, who treated him as an “opportunist” (like the filmmaker Héctor Olivera) is not understood.); Nor is the enigmatic silence of Spilimbergo or the Uruguayan Lázaro understood, and the late recognition of Castagnino. The absence of a political message is unforgivable to the ideologues of communism. In Mexico they don’t accept it either.

Meanwhile, the Bicentennial Museum has just recovered its original name, Museo de la Casa Rosada, and of the 13,000 pieces on display (mostly uncatalogued), belonging to Argentine presidents, they decided to exclude the most recent ones. An elegant way to get rid of the moccasins of a former president and other objects that have nothing to do with this masterpiece, unrelated to political art.

Source: Ambito

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