The Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires presents the first anthological exhibition of Elda Cerrato (Argentinian, b. Asti, Italy, 1930), an artist and teacher of Argentinian artists, with a selection of works spanning fifty years of her output from Buenos Aires and Tucumán to Caracas. In both its artistic and academic development, Cerrato’s work displays a unique symbolic, conceptual and ethical lattice, within which resonate both the diverse tendencies of twentieth-century Latin American art and the social, political and cultural dynamics of the region.
From the outset, driven by a profound curiosity about the mystery of living beings, Cerrato has cultivated her knowledge of a wide array of challenging themes, present throughout her work: the study of biology and her interest in the potential of the scientific method, the research into geometry and pictorial scales that is a hallmark of her work, her contact with the Gurdjieff’s ‘School of the Fourth Way’, a century-old metaphysical cosmological doctrine, and political debates with the Argentinian and Venezuelan intellectual avant-gardes over decades of rising tensions. These coordinates, where art, spirituality, scientific knowledge and politics cross over without hierarchies, make up her advanced worldview. The power of Cerrato’s work lies in her fervent self-determination, allowing her to integrate knowledge regarded as antagonistic, push back aesthetic boundaries and connect transversally with the artistic environment. Consequently, her work takes on astonishing relevance today, establishing debates with historical narratives both within and beyond the art world.
After an informalist abstract period and facing the growing institutional violence of the civil-military dictatorships of the 1960s and ’70s in Argentina, Cerrato embarked on a fervently political period, in which she constructed a set of images, thoughts and actions that tied in ever more closely with the artistic avant-garde and the political revolution. She studied the identity of Latin American peoples, economic inequalities, struggles over territorial sovereignty and class conflicts, issues she tackled through the strategies of conceptual art and the visual language of the mass media. Crowds, maps, aerial views, worker demonstrations and symbols of Peronism became the mark of her most emblematic works and the keys to a critical stance which she has maintained to the present day and which has made her work an undeniable testimony to the political history of the Southern Cone.
The successive migrations she and her family have lived through, and her contact with different languages and social landscapes have imbued her life with movements and contrasts that have sharpened her enormous acumen for immersing herself in the context around her with both the most concrete realities and intangible experiences. Elda Cerrato’s work is the manifestation of this ability to grasp the essential nature of events from the heart. The Museo Moderno celebrates the valuable legacy of this artist, who has contributed so much to the construction of personal and collective memory, the fundamental starting point from which it is possible to assay responses to contemporary life.
Elda Cerrato is an Argentinian artist born in Asti, Italy, in 1930. Since 1962, she has participated in numerous collective and individual exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Highlights include shows staged at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Venezuela; the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.; the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, and the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC), Buenos Aires. She has been a teacher, lecturer and researcher at universities and art schools in Argentina and abroad, notably at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Buenos Aires (UBA) during the 1960s and ’70s. She lived and worked in Caracas for long periods, the last between 1977 and 1983, when she also lectured and researched at the School of Art of the Department of Humanities, Central University of Venezuela (UCV). She is currently Consulting Associate Professor in the Department of Arts and a Research Fellow at the Argentinian and Latin American Art History Institute of the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, UBA, and is an external examiner for other universities in Argentina and Uruguay. Since 1964, alongside her output as an artist, she has produced publications, short films and radio programmes, and has participated in conferences and congresses at home and abroad. She lives in Buenos Aires.