Alfredo Londaibere. Yo soy santo
Museo de Arte Moderno
26.09.19 | 01.03.20
The Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires presented the first panoramic exhibition of work by Alfredo Londaibere (Buenos Aires, 1955–2017). Curated by Jimena Ferreiro, Yo soy santo featured over one hundred works, ranging from early pieces produced in the seventies to the artist’s final series of paintings and collages produced from 2013 to 2017. The selection narrated in images the artist’s gradually turn to religion and his ties to spirituality.
Londaibere engaged painting as language and as field of action. He was not only an artist, but also a curator and teacher. His logic always revolved around his craft and art history. As the museum explains “His works were a coming together of classic European art, primitive Christianity, baroque colonial painting, pagan, Catholic and Afro-descendant beliefs, central and peripheral modernisms, east and west, the avant-garde and local appropriations, the artisan system and the learned arts, elite culture and popular consumption. Painting also gave him a field of research that he explored through diverse techniques and materialities which he used to revisit traditional genres, and which at the same time became a way to reach a spiritual state that became increasingly explicit in his themes, his procedures and his vision of the world.”
In the eighties, Londaibere’s production became more systematic (it was often divided into series). Notwithstanding, he did not participate in the exhibition circuit or in juried shows. He was involved in the Grupo de Acción Gay (GAG), with which he read social theory, engaged in micro-activism, and socialized with figures like Jorge Gumier Maier and Marcelo Pombo. In the late eighties, he took part in critiques held at the Centro Cultural Ciudad de Buenos Aires (today the Centro Cultural Recoleta) with artists Pablo Suárez, Luis Wells, and Kenneth Kemble. Pombo remembers—and Ferreiro recounts—that in those critiques Suárez encouraged Londaibere to pursue collage. He formed part of the group of artists close to the art gallery at the Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas from the time of that venue’s opening until the end of Gumier’s tenure as its chief curator. In 1989, he exhibited Mapas y pinturas at Rojas. His first solo show, the artist also considered it a retrospective. He exhibited at Rojas two more times, once in 1991 in a show curated by Magdalena Jitrik and finally in 1992.
Organized in a chronological sequence that “strays occasionally,” the curator explains, Yo soy santo began with four walls under two intersecting arches from which four central works hung. One of them contains an encoded message amidst constructivist-like lines and colors: the phase from which the exhibition gets its title (I am holy).
The exhibition continued with a selection of small and medium-size works produced from 1983 to 1992. In them, the artist uses collage and assemblage to decontextualize images and objects from consumer culture—women’s magazines, gay porn, and art history—but also images of Sai Baba, Saint Sebastian, and the Virgin Maria along with Spanish playing cards, Tarot and other fortunetelling decks, and characters from comics like Don Fulgencio. These images are sometimes combined in what Ferreiro calls a “decorative dripping.” In his paintings on wood in particular, nails make reference to wounds and lacerations. The exhibition included as well his works made from crushed soda cans, where “the beauty of consumption [is] affected by waste and scavenging. These works bring together some of the key visual themes of the 1990s and early 2000s, including the recuperation of ‘minor’ techniques and popular materials in the quest to reinstate their sacredness,” the museum goes on. Also on exhibit were the backs of works bearing prayers and laudations.
Londaibere also made sculptures, which he exhibited in 2005 at the Centro Cultural Borges in a show curated by Fernanda Laguna and featuring as well paintings by Florencia Bohtlingk. Those works were exhibited in another gallery alongside works from the 2000s. According to Ferreiro, “a more direct gesture predominated” in Londaibere’s work from this period. “He felt that he was painting for the first time.” This gallery contained a selection of his final paintings, works that make use of large formats in an effort to grapple with the “isms” of the historical avant-gardes by, for instance, using a constructivist style in an image of decorative flowers.