Gerardo Rueda (Madrid, 1926-1996) turns the practice of collage into an experimental laboratory; with tools and materials that are different from the usual paint brushes and pigments he is able to make a painting without paint.
Organised around technical and aesthetic issues, rather than follow a chronological order, the ninety works collected in this exhibition offer a complete approach to Rueda’s work, from his earliest compositions that combine colour paper and Chinese ink -where the paper acts as a colour and "the drawing helps link together what is dispersed" as he said in March 1996- up to the formulation of collage as a painting and the expansion of limits to the assembly, in pieces such as Evocación viajera (1982) and Cosas de artista (1986).
Rueda is a member of the Grupo de Cuenca -gathered around Fernando Zobel and Gustavo Torner- and recognised the artistic and avant-garde ideas that collage referred to, but immediately manages to overcome the limitations of historical constructivism to reach a constructive harmony. His purpose is to convert painted paper into a pictorial medium. He can aesthetically and compositionally make the most of all coloured paper, cut or torn into irregular shapes, he takes advantage of the non-defined limits of textures and chromatic games. He also introduces the notion of dimension and accepts its material qualities, seeking light or opacity effects in the overlay. When he uses envelopes, invitations or newspaper clippings he emphasises the compositional and constructive nature of the collage, and plays with printed words and texts, which generate pieces that expand the category of collage towards creations of visual poetry.
By 1957 crumpled tissue paper becomes his main material, he develops a discourse on the role of matter and colour, which also affects his work with cardboard boxes like in Tres formas (1967) o Para Manolo Silvela in Memorian (1965). As we can see in his paintings, the collages reveal his references to María Helena Vieira da Silva, Serge Poliakoff and Nicolas de Staël, in addition to his homages to Henri Matisse.
Rueda’s total commitment to the collage lies in that he considers it the best example in which one can still notice the hand of the artist at work, from this idea comes his admiration for Kurt Schwitters, Joaquin Torres García, Joseph Cornell and Robert Motherwell. Conversely, he also discovers in the collage the artist's ability to salvage materials destined for the rubbish and turn them into pictorial material. In this way, he first experiments with envelopes, which offer tactile qualities and a wide range of browns, and which he also uses to develop cumulative effects from the inside-out principle. Subsequently, in the Nineties he begins his "rescue collages." In them, most of the papers are torn with a hand gesture, so that, at the time of writing, chance and arbitrariness meets intention.
Museo de Bellas Artes de La Coruña (July 30 - September 14, 1997); Château d'O, Montpellier (January 15 - February 28, 1998); Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany (March 14 - May 3, 1998); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber (June - July, 1998); Museo Regional de Guadalajara, Mexico (September - October, 1998)
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