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Jorge Pietra inaugurated last week a great exhibition of paintings, drawings, objects and installations in the UCA Arts Pavilion that continues until the end of July and today he inaugurates another exhibition of paintings and some objects in the Rubbers gallery.

The UCA exhibition is an anthology that brings together works made over the last twelve years and includes recent paintings. There is a plus in the small room in the back: a group of four drawings from the mid-1980s that he made in Mexico, plus a small triptych from 1975. The power, the multiplicity of scenes and simultaneous spaces in each work, the protagonism of the color in his paintings, the cultural combinations and the transformation into images of the experiences (and inclusion of objects brought) from his travels, show the richness of the artist’s world, and a recognizable work, a Pietra style. The exhibition is entitled “Dream America” and the common substratum is his travels through America.

Let’s start with the 1975 work.

-Well, that drawing was in my first exhibition. And there is a whole story behind, in which Yuyo Noé is essential. His work was the one I liked best from the group of new figuration. And it was Marcia Schvartz, with whom we were close friends, who insisted that I show my work to Noé. Marcia was studying with him, she set up an interview and I went to see him: I didn’t even have a folder, I brought the works wrapped in newspaper. Yuyo liked my work and, as always, was very open and generous: he introduced me to his gallery, Carmen Waugh, and got me a date for my first exhibition. The inauguration was on a fateful date: March 24, 1976. When I crossed Plaza San Martín to go to the gallery there were war tanks. But the activities had not been suspended, nor the inauguration.

The Mexican drawings are the verification that you were already then what you would be later. And there’s a world of its own.

-That compositional structure, in part, responded to a connection between four or five friends from Fine Arts. We shared a workshop with Eduardo Stupía and in another workshop we had been with Roberto Elía. That was very important. We passed materials, we discussed about the works. When I was 21 years old I made a trip with Marcia Schvartz to the Amazon and experiences arose there that I continue to use in my work.

Since when does the oneiric appear in your work?

-Since ever. And it is not something that I have proposed, but it appears. It is in tune with trips, readings, experiences. And also, of course, amorphous images suggested by color and contrasts emerge. All of this makes up a world that materializes in my work. The key is creative freedom.

There is also an evocation of childhood. And a structure often related to the comic strip, both in the structure and in the narrative component of your paintings.

-For me the comic strip is an important source and also childhood, the vindication of a time without age. From a very young age, at seven or eight years old, I locked myself in a little room and copied characters from Dartagnan and Tony magazines. He greatly admired cartoonists. And that fantastic world entered my work, although never directly. I like to narrate. And there are also cinema and literature.

In turn, each work is very complex and elaborate.

-Nothing comes out “like this” all at once. There is a lot of elaboration, yes. And a long time. Because every painting has a starting point. But then the thing stops. And I see it again later. Time is part of the work. Sometimes it can take years for a work to be finished. And I can pick up each painting, get back into that world, no problem. That includes developments and adjustments in various aspects. That is why they are works without time, where a parallel world is seen.

There are citations to mythologies and founding stories from different cultures and religions.

-I look for a relationship with the fantastic and also with the magical and sometimes the mystical and not always in this or that narrative data, but in the intensity or tone of a color. On the other hand there are many similarities between stories, religions and aesthetics of America and the East. I think we all have many worlds and each of us are many. And I think, what about all that? is it energy? is it matter? Those worlds are always acting. And I think I’m looking for him to appreciate that.

Where do those characters and objects come from in your “theaters” and “installations?

-I review things that I brought from my travels, that I kept and I make assemblies, I transform them, complement them and include them in the works.

Characters appear in the paintings that seem to monitor or control.

-Okay. I have no doubt that there is a lot of paranoia as well. Those characters must be agents of I don’t know what force. And there are also children’s things there.

The exhibition of paintings (and a couple of objects) that opens today at Rubbers is made up almost entirely of new work.

-Most of them are new and some paintings are not so new in their origin but I saw them as unfinished, and so I finished them lately. In this sense, the exhibition is called “El concierro”, not only because of the pandemic and the quarantines, but also because of reviewing the paintings that I had started a while ago and then resumed.

* The exhibition “América onírica” can be seen in the Pavilion of Fine Arts of the UCA, in Alicia Moreau de Justo 1300, until July 24. The exhibition “El encierro” opens today at the Rubbers gallery, Avenida Alvear 1640.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.