This exhibition devoted to the painter Joaquín Torres-García (Montevideo, 1874-1949) aims to present his work chronologically throughout his career and identify his logic according to his theoretical and aesthetic discourse. The objective is to highlight how the principles of tradition, construction and universality are the constants on which the work of Uruguayan are based throughout his artistic journey, which extends for the whole of the first half of the twentieth century. The words of Tomas Llorens, curator of the exhibition, referring to Torres-Garcia’s work summarises the purpose of the exhibition: "[his work] is inseparable from the sharpness and coherence of the views he defended as an artist."
The different stages in which he transited, the styles and artistic practices that he assumed and exercised, connected, in turn, to the different cities where he lived (Barcelona, Paris, New York, Montevideo); they are different manifestations that respond to a fundamental idea: constructive universalism. Thus, interest in the artist shifts from artistic languages to the constructive principle that underlies all his transitions, which are now understood to be not radical breaks, but experimentational periods on the same problem: painting as a language and illusion. The multifocal composition developed in a single plane and articulated by orthogonal structures based on the golden section appears in his decorative programmes within the political and cultural project Noucentisme (1906-1923); they can also been seen in his cityscapes translated into the language of vibrationism. After arriving in Paris in 1926, and because of his connections with representatives of neoplasticism and geometric abstraction, this constructivist principle is enriched in his work, while also transferring wooden objects and other poor materials.
Torres-Garcia plays a leading role in founding the group Cercle et Carre, in 1930, but almost immediately and especially after his definitive return to Montevideo in 1934, he rejects the very notion of avant-garde (because of its spirit of exclusion) and a tectonic order in his paintings becomes more rigorous through the inclusion of grids which distribute his motives. The represented figures, which are subjected to a geometricisation process, appeal progressively to American Indian iconography and imagery (pottery, anchors, Inca suns, pyramids). His series and variations on Estructura abstracta tubular (1937) and Formas libres (1943), where he reaches the peak of paintings as pictograms, offer the best synthesis of Torres-Garcia's career as a performer and reformer of the two cultural traditions that he made his own: the archaic Mediterranean and Pre-Columbian cultures. These works also show his undeniable role in the development of Geometric Abstraction, along with his universalisation, and modern Latin American art.
IVAM Centre Julio González, Valencia (September - November, 1991)