8th December 2006 — 4th February 2007
current exhibition at Camden Arts Centre is the first major
survey of the late Argentinian artist Victor Grippo in
London. A quiet and reverential exhibition, the work of
Victor Grippo is presented neatly to us here as the lost
brother of that generation of artists that includes Beuys,
Hacke, Oiticia and Broodthaears. Works date from the mid-1960's
until 2002 but overall, the exhibition has a definite historical,
belonging-to-a-by-gone-era, feeling to it.
Gallery One is taken over by 'Naturalizar al hombre, humanizar a la naturaleza, o Energía vegetal'. Here a large, electronic Last Supper table is presented to us; piled on the white cloth hundreds of potatoes are each hooked up to electrodes and and at a buttons' touch we can see the energy they produce en masse by means of an voltmeter. Here, the energy of the potato is harnessed and turned into electricity, and, to Grippo becomes a symbol of the transformative power of Human consciousness.
Also in the room is 'Algunos oficios' - this display of tools and traditional manual trades; blacksmith, stone-mason, bricklayer, carpenter and farmer. Is a clear and simple homage to pre-industrial trades and ways of life. More though, Grippo has also managed to create a composition of materials, sand, soil, iron, wood and stone play against one another and from which the aesthetic experience is built.
One of the most memorable and gripping installations is 'Meses de trabajo y reflexión'. Dimly lit by suspended stark, bare light bulbs, a series of seven old school tables are displayed. Each table has been inscribed with a quote which describes its past as a support and passive witness to a series of diverse human activities, or are quotes from poets, writers and engineers. This poetic and minimal act marks each table with its past and imbues it with a new and transforming life as a story-teller. The work shifts the gear of the exhibition, slowing it down to almost static.
Throughout the exhibition, Grippo's upbringing in 1940's rural Argentina, and his early interest in science both clearly inform his artistic practice; in terms of materials and aesthetics certainly and also in terms of a meta-discourse that runs though. This is a body of work which uses the strategies of science; objectivisation, the properties of matter, repetition, observation and experiment to create an aesthetic experience. One which creates energy from nothing and transforms everyday materials and objects through the power of science.
Camden Arts Centre
London NW3 6DG