Parallel to the great retrospective of Julio Le Parc at the Tomie Ohtake Institute, the São Paulo headquarters of Galeria Nara Roesler brings together works by the iconic kinetic artist.
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There are ten recent paintings of the Alchimie series (2016/2017), three sculptures by the Torsion ensemble (2004) and the Alchimie Virtuel projection, which occupies the central space at the exhibition. Presented for the first time in Latin America, the work, in virtual reality, updates the question of virtuality that Le Parc has been exploring for more than 50 years, as in the paintings Réels et virtuels / serie Surface noir et blanc (1950s), Volume Virtuel (70’s), and in the sculptures Cercle Virtuel (60’s).
By anticipating this discussion, Le Parc has become a recognized visionary. Now, on the eve of his 90th birthday with this projected work, he uses technology to finally plunge into virtual reality. “The work of Julio Le Parc simultaneously experimental, visionary and playful, remains pertinent in the present, as it was in the 1960s, and his concerns related to politics, the role of the public, the artist and the power of arts organization are still relevant and significant, “writes critic Hans Ulrich Obrist in the Bifurcations exhibition catalog. Perrotin Gallery, Paris, 2017.
The current alchemies, acrylic on canvas, are large-scale works, designed from various stages of drawings and smaller paintings that expand into progressively modified compositions. “In some paintings we see a large black center that, surrounded by an overlapping of overlapping and grouped colors, appears atomized, which causes a simultaneously disorienting and hypnotic effect,” says Le Parc. The Alchimie series was started in 1988, in the form of small sketches arising from the artist’s fortuitous observations, which were gradually realized. “These alchemies are part of my lively adventure, expressed in my work as an experimental artist,” says Le Parc.
In Torsion, the artist reaffirms this persistence in a continuous experimentation, in which each new set of works has its roots in what already has developed. The series of sculptures, which in monumental sizes occupy public spaces in countries such as Mexico, Portugal and the United States, are linked to the spirit of the early reliefs, especially the “virtual volumes” developed in the 1970s. Although the works in Torsion are not virtual, but real with the forceful presence of stainless steel, this material, due to its satin surface, allows multiple changes due to its way of attracting light. The sculptures keep the seminal principle of the artist’s production, which, according to him, corresponds to a simple process: a scheme that determines the whole. “Most are organized by sequences that can be of displacement, rotation, angles, positioning in space, etc. The conception, by its rationality, allows the appearance of visual situations that can go from the simple recognition of a system of organization to the impression of chaos, “he adds.
Julio Le Parc (born 1928, Mendoza, Argentina) lives and works in Cachan, France. The artist presents the spectator with a fun and demystified vision of art and society through his perceptually illusive paintings, sculptures and installations. Le Parc interacts with color, light, shadow and movement so that the shapes appear to move, solid structures dematerialize, and the light itself looks plastic. As co-founder of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV), he worked to break the limits in art and the participation of spectators contributed directly with his famous kinetic sculptures and light environments.
Beginning in the 1960s, however, he began to develop a series of distinctive works using “milky” light: these objects, usually constructed with a lateral white light source that was reflected and broken by polished metal surfaces, combined a high degree of intensity with a subtle expression of continuous motion.
Le Parc works were the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in Europe, Latin America and the United States, in institutions such as the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA (2016); Museum der Kulturen Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2015); Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden (2015); Malba, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013); Luiz Angel Arango Library, Bogota, Colombia, (2007); Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico (2006); Castello di Boldeniga, Brescia, Italy (2004), among others. The artist was also part of several collective and biennial exhibitions such as: the International Biennial of Curitiba, Curitiba, Brazil (2015); Mercosur Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil (1999); Biennial of Havana, Havana, Cuba (1984); Biennial of São Paulo (1967), the Biennial of Venice in 1966 (when he received the Prize) and the controversial exhibition of MoMA, The Responsive Eye (1965). As a protest against the repressive military regime in Brazil, he joined artists in the boycott of the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1969 and published an alternative catalog of Contrabienal in 1971. Le Parc’s later collective works include participation in anti-fascist movements in Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Recently Le Parc has been the subject of major retrospectives, such as Form into action at the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA (2016), Julio Le Parc at the Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2014); Le Parc: Lumière at MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014); Soleil froid at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013); Le Parc lumière at Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2013); and the Dynamo exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, France (2013).