Marie Orensanz, work featured in the exhibition
Marie Orensanz, work featured in the exhibition "El Fluir del Pensaiento". Courtesy: Muntref

The flow of thought (The flow of thought) is the first large-scale retrospective exhibition that the French-Argentine artist Marie Orensanz performs in Buenos Aires for more than ten years. Curated by Diana Wechsler (artistic director of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo – Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero, Muntref, and vice-rector of the university that hosts this Museum), the exhibition brings together around 100 pieces, from works from the 1960s to works made for the occasion, which occupy five rooms, a corridor and the entrance to the former Hotel dos Imigrantes.

Located by the river, on the edge of the city, this building was erected in 1912 to manage the growing wave of migration, with its white mosaic corridors, its marble stairs and its windows that allow you to see, on one side, the buildings of the center of Buenos Aires, and on the other, the horizon that cuts the Rio de la Plata with its brown tones, is an appropriate space for an artist who relies on displacement and in which the boundaries between spaces are erased, the focus of her work.

The initial journey of Marie Orensanz (Mar del Plata, 1936) was the classic of Argentine artists of the 1960s: dramatic and material abstractions, paintings and drawings with resonances of neofiguration, in the first half of the decade; primary structures and a leap towards conceptualist strategies with political overtones (the coot, 1969), and the preeminence of language at the end of the decade. Since then, his work with the materialization of language has been constant.

The exhibition presents, with care, these periods and, although it allows a chronological journey, it is also punctuated by very recent works by the artist that indicate recurrences and allow for reinterpretations. Thus, for example, the first room is dominated by figurative works from the 1960s: four large enamels on canvas (Laughter, 1965), two drawings from the series The masks (1966) and a 2000 video created from the series of the dominant ones (1964)

But there are also showcases with notebooks, loose papers, sketches, catalogs and letters by Orensanz from various eras, in an irradiation of constant verbal expression that offers a review of the great works hanging on the walls: in the closed, fragmented and deformed mouths, the dialogue with the profusion of written texts makes the attempt at communication more tangible.

In one of the showcases, a piece of marble is also included, designed and annotated, a gesture that anticipates what we will see later and that underlines a key operation for Orensanz: just as the page and the canvas can acquire hardness and permanence, they can also treating marble like a piece of paper that houses an ephemeral note. A drawing in the next room says: The environment conditions people, with a typography that refers to the fantasies of clarity and classification of diplomacy and science, but also to Magritte's famous mockery. This is one of the phrases that make up the manifesto Eros, which Orensanz presented in Milan in 1974, and which constituted something like the basic text from which he would extract the axioms of his best-known works.

All works in this sector seem to respond to the phrase of this phrase, seeking to disarm spatial conditioning with opening operations. The central piece is the one that won the Braque Prize in 1969, consisting of black adhesive tape glued to transparent acrylic sheets on the floor and wall, creating the illusion of an immaterial plane. But it also includes some landscape drawings. In them coexist quadrangular grids in black and white with painted areas with blurred edges that suggest natural landscapes. Faced with the calculation and planning of reticular shapes, the fuzzy lines open up the possibility of the indeterminate and the unknown.

The next wing is divided into three parts: one focuses on his marble work; another – the largest –, in metal objects; and the third combines audiovisual and photographic works. The section dedicated to his metal works includes scaled-down versions of his best-known pieces, such as Pensar é um facto revolutionary, on permanent display at the Parque de la Memoria.

In the third room, a wall that is pure image (four photographs) opposes an installation that is (almost) pure sound (We speak, from 2007); united by a third wall that combines image and sound, with three videos by the artist, among them the well-known limitations (1979). In the first, we find large-format photographic reproductions of an action carried out in Paris in 1982. Invited by Julien Blaine to carry out interventions on baseboards and monuments, Orensanz experiments with playful poses that underline limits and exclusions in the grandiose values ​​associated with historic monuments. In one of them, the artist brings a sign that says Fragmentism at the base of the empty monument, and there he condenses the key that runs through his work of more than half a century: in it, the fragments (of faces or landscapes, of paper or marble) are not flaws or waste, but openings and, therefore, a platform for the unlimited.

Marie Orensanz, the flow of thought
Curator: Diana Wechsler
Until 25/6
Center for Contemporary Art – Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero: Av. Antarctica Argentina 1335 – Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Visitation: Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 am to 18 pm
Free admission

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