With a belief firmly rooted in the certainty that ‘in the end, everything is fiction’, Washington Cucurto (Santiago Vega, Quilmes, 1973) creates a potent visual universe, as hot as it is festive. Here, the everyday life of the working classes, high and not so high literature, modern and contemporary painting, history and politics, all cross to recreate in books and paintings the powerful cultural and ethnic mixes of the two Americas. This exhibition brings together a selection of artworks from various series, which Cucurto has created in little over two years, after deciding to continue in paint the intense fictional world he had already built up as a writer over the course of more than twenty books of short stories, novels and poetry. Like his narratives, his paintings are born of the same unprejudiced fusion of street-life, media, music and Pan-American popular art. These are further heightened by mutual immigrations which create complex composite cities that are at once Mexican, Colombian, Venezuelan, Argentinian, Peruvian, Cuban, Bolivian, Paraguayan, Dominican… This seething life, this torrent of oral, written, musical and visual tales, materialises in his paintings. These are ‘condensed stories’ in which the portrait of a street vendor, writer or historical figure, or a scene taken from a literary work or historical event, is distorted and takes on new life and forms in haphazard co-existence. This conforms to the motto of never correct, always move forward and add freehand, incorporating any elements that emerge in the spontaneous act of making, always at the highest possible speed.
If history and culture have their official narratives and canons, Cucurto’s work mixes, recombines and subverts them in an unprejudiced reordering that foregrounds their most silenced, most profoundly popular, darkest-skinned origins. In his world, Once’s Dominican women can take a Picasso painting by storm, Eva Perón can become black to embody a new historical myth or the verses of Cuban poet Virgilio Piñera can accompany a drunken brawl in a Porteño bar. From Once to Harlem – which ‘is also the Caribbean,’ according to Cucurto – his work portrays the history and culture of a continent riven by racial, social and political violence through a gaze full of love, humour and tenderness.
Project curated by Victoria Noorthoorn in collaboration with Álvaro Rufiner
Conservation: Diamela Canosa.
Production: Edgar Lacombe.
Montage: Leo Ocello
Research and texts: Martín Lojo
Special thanks: Galería Alberto Sendros