The exhibition of Guillermo Kuitca and Julio Galán presented the work of two Latin American artists. Both come from the periphery of the Western art world and yet are connected to its modernist tradition and are essential to its survival. The exhibition sought to investigate the position of non-Western artists in the context of contemporary art.

Through a personal mythology, Argentinean artist Guillermo Kuitca (1961) expresses the common experience of anonymity and isolation. Kuitca first painted apocalyptic theatrical spaces, which were related to his activities as a theater director. In these paintings, diminutive human figures are confronted with enormous spaces as an expression of existential “angst” and light is manipulated for specific purposes: one does not know where the light ends and darkness begins. In later works, he transforms the theater stages into architectural plans. Inspired by the novel The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt, about a middle class family in New York, Kuitca used their apartment as a prototype for his floor plans and used the story of the family’s son, an alter ego, to express the conflicts that arise in the search for personal identity. For Kuitca the floor plan is a symbol for The Place, a physical context to contain and reflect upon memories, emotions, and stories. He further continued his exploration of the self in a series of maps of cities and countries painted on mattresses and benches, which serve as metaphors for vulnerability, sexuality and dreams, as well as the psychoanalyst’s couch.

The paintings by Mexican artist Julio Galán (1959), rooted in the style of ex-votos and colonial retablos, are sophisticated records of personal emotions and memories that are full of complex iconographical references. His Niño Dios (Christ Child) (1986), for example, looks like a devotional icon, but sacredness is replaced by a sublimated feeling of personal identification and vulnerability. Galán, like Kuitca, uses a specific sense of place to represent a psychic state; his images are situated in another world, in an order of pre-birth, post-mortem and dream state. While Kuitca’s desolate apartments seem to remain within the boundaries of the surface of the world and of its unlivable nature, Galán’s oniric images suggest that art can be both a form of suffering and one of healing.

This exhibition, which was the first European presentation for both Galán and Kuitca, comprised about twenty works from 1985-1990 by each painter.