Guillermo Kuitca at work on "The Inhabitants" at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

Oct 29, 2014 10:08PM

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain invited artist Guillermo Kuitca to organize an exhibition reflecting the museum's dedication to the works of international contemporary artists. Images of Kuitca at work at Fondation Cartier and his preliminary drawings for The Inhabitants take us behind the scenes of this highly interactive exhibition. 

The Inhabitants, an installation created especially for the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain by the Argentinian painter Guillermo Kuitca, borrows its title from a film of the same name by Artavazd Pelechian. Occupying the entire lower level, it plunges visitors into a pictorial and sound environment, building an intricate network between his own art and that of fellow artists Tarsila do Amaral, Francis Bacon, David Lynch, Vija Celmins, Patti Smith and Artavazd Pelechian. Guillermo Kuitca’s work mirrors the history of the Fondation Cartier and its unique way of establishing relationships between artists and artworks, inciting encounters of many kinds, and making connections from one project to the next over the years.

The idea for The Inhabitants came from David Lynch’s life-sized recreation of a living room, inspired by one of his own small drawings. For Guillermo Kuitca, whose work is filled with references to theatrical interiors, seeing David Lynch’s 2007 exhibition The Air is on Fire at the Fondation Cartier, where the living room was shown for the first time, was an important experience that struck a profound chord. Kuitca further explores this encounter by inviting visitors to rediscover a concert given by Lynch and Patti Smith at the Fondation Cartier on October 28, 2011 as part of the Mathematics, A Beautiful Elsewhere exhibition. For Kuitca, this event embodied the concept of reinterpretation that underlies his entire project, and he incorporated the concert’s sound recording into his installation. During this unique performance of music and poetry that brought the two artists together on stage for the first time, Patti Smith adapted a text written by Lynch that told the story of an antelope who wanders through a city and observes its people. A long and troubling poem, it echoes The Inhabitants by Armenian filmmaker Artavazd Pelechian. Also presented in the exhibition, this film is an ode to nature that depicts images of animals frantically trying to escape from an invisible threat.

Painted in infinite shades of black, white and grey, American artist Vija Celmins’ starry skies converse with paintings by Lynch and Francis Bacon, which are, in contrast, saturated with color and dominated by the presence of the human body. Francis Bacon, a major influence for David Lynch, acts as a pivotal element in Guillermo Kuitca’s installation, linking the various artists and allowing their works to respond to each other and to the various forces at work. Urutu (1928), masterpiece of the Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral, also shares strong links with these pictorial works and resonates in a surprising and powerful way with Artavazd Pelechian’s film. This piece is a true icon of the Brazilian Cannibalist movement, which marked the beginning of the modernist revolution in Brazil. Its exceptional presentation pays homage to this striking artist of Latino-American artistic modernism. In a certain way, the numerous Latino-American artists exhibited at the Fondation Cartier for many years, like Beatriz Milhazes and Adriana Varejão, all bear the mark of this leading figure.

Guillermo Kuitca’s installation The Inhabitants constantly plays on viewers’ sensations and creates optical illusions. It also invites visitors to reflect upon his oeuvre as a whole, characterized by references to maps and the intersection between places and things, as well as allusions to physical, mental and emotional territories in which the human figure is conspicuously absent. The Inhabitants is inspired by the same spirit. Stimulating dialogue and making surprising multilayered connections, The Inhabitants also reflects the unique manner in which the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain has operated for 30 years bringing together works, artists and ideas.