Geometric Abstraction

Geometric Abstraction

At Fondation Cartier’s Géométries Sud, Du Mexique à la Terre de Feu (Southern Geometries, from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego), Latin American art meets European Modernism in a glorious cacophony of colour, shape and texture. Covering a long period, throughout the 20th century and up to the present day, it brings together a collection of famous and lesser-known names. Everyone featured plays with certain repeated motifs, which allows a dialogue to develop between different times and cultures.

Placed inside a specially-designed ballroom, the exhibition immediately immerses the viewer in the bright, engaging iconography of the Tiwanaku culture. Freddy Mamani (b.1947, Bolivia), described last year as the leader of a “new Andean architecture” has created this custom-built space to bring the vibrancy of his projects to the French capital in a meaningful way. The physicality of his work can be truly experienced in this context; though even through photographs (such as those of Tatewaki Nio, also included), its striking impact is immediately clear.

Within this setting, constructions by Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt, 1912-1994, Germany and Venezuela) take on an almost ethereal delicacy. Creating complex geometric structures by hand, often suspended in mid-air, she viewed her practice as line drawing rather than sculpture. Here, they sit alongside abstract pieces by Carmen Herrera (b.1915). Despite not selling a painting until she was 89, in recent decades she has received increasing recognition for her progressive, architecturally-inspired creations. The inclusion of both women is an important demonstration of the critical role female artists have played in this riotous, diverse movement. Elsewhere, ceramics, textiles, body art and more provide further evidence of the visual lineage that can be traced between very different mediums. Overall, this provides a fascinating and refreshing take on Latin American geometric abstraction and the global spread of its influence.

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Anna Feintuck

1. Neo-andina Photographs by Tatewaki Nio.