Guillermo Kuitca began making what he calls his Diarios in 1994. Currently on view at MCA Denver, each of these works begins as an abandoned canvas––often as the beginning of a
painting that was, for some reason, cast aside. He then stretched the canvases across an old table rescued from his parents' garden and situated in the center of Kuitca's busy studio. Over time, these once-forgotten paintings accumulate small sketches, doodles, notes and other evidences of the artist's daily thoughts and activities. Every three to six months, the artist removes the canvas, replaces it, and the process begins anew.
The seriality of the Diario project is a significant part of the way an audience reads the works. Diarios are created in sets of eighteen, over a course of years, and once a set is created, the works must be purchased and shown together. They are displayed around the room in chronological order and the artist asks that they be hung so that someone in the center of the gallery can turn in a circle and see every work. The premiere of Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios at the Drawing Center in New York marked the first time the Diarios had been shown in the United States, though the first two sets were exhibited at the Cartier Foundation and as part of the Argentina pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. The set on display at MCA Denver is the third and most recent product of this now twenty-year-long pursuit.
The Spanish word diario can be translated into English as either "diary" or "daily," and the ordinary and mysterious details in these works honor both meanings. The canvases feature structured blocks of color, intricate lines and delicate sketches that reveal the works' identity as recycled canvases from cast-off paintings. In many works, a viewer can pick out endless numbers and disorienting maps and floor plans, which are common themes from the artist's larger ouvre.
In addition to this living chronicle of his creative practice, the hastily scribbled telephone numbers, listless doodles and small artifacts filling each canvas also draw attention to the diurnal happenings inside Kuitca's studio. The layering of the purposeful and accidental elements around and on top of each other blends them together, often making the "diary and the "daily" indistinguishable.
Kuitca's exhibition at MCA Denver presents Diarios created between 2005 and the present, complete with a video of the artist working on his next Diario in his Buenos Aires studio. Through these uniquely transparent works, the viewer is invited to take a look inside the artist's studio and to understand the process and its record as work in its own right.
–– Sonya Falcone
Guillermo Kuitca's Diarios is on view from June 21–September 15, 2013. The exhibition is presented as part of the 2013 Biennial of the Americas.
image: Guillermo Kuitca. Diario (16 October 2008 – 14 April 2009) (detail). 9002. Mixed media on canvas. 47 in. Courtesy the artist.