Herlitzka + Faria (Buenos Aires) and Henrique Faria Fine Art (New York) are pleased to announce their participation in the 2019 edition of Frieze Masters, one of the major fairs in the international art market, based in Regent’s Park, London. The galleries are returning to Frieze Masters after their successful experience in 2018 with works by Mirtha Dermisache; this time presenting a group of 34 works by Margarita Paksa, on view between October 3 and 6, in the section Spotlight, stand G09.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1933, Paksa is recognized as a pioneer of minimalism, political conceptualism, and the cross between art and technology, something which, with the passage of time, has turned her into an ineluctable reference for contemporary artists and cutting-edge Latin American art. Herlitzka + Faria and Henrique Faria Fine Art are taking to Frieze works by Paksa produced between 1967 and 1983, in media ranging from paper to acrylic and steel. The artist is known for having taken part in watershed events for Argentine art, such as Experiencias 67 (Experiences 67) and Experiencias 68 (Experiences 68) at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella (in which she anticipated ideas for future interactive installations) and the activity of Tucumán Arde (Tucumán's Burning), which marked the political radicalization of the neo-avant-gardes of the '60s.
On display at Frieze Masters will be her works on paper from the series Ojos Ciegos [Blind Eyes] (1977), Dibujos Rorschach [Rorschach Drawings] (1983), Diagramas de batallas [Battle Plans] (1972-1976), Obras tipográficas [Typographic Works] (1969), and Situaciones fuera de foco [Out of Focus Situations] (1967-1968), as well as Silencio [Silence] (1967-2010), a steel, glass, and acrylic cube, exhibited in the group show Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2017). After the 2012 retrospective at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires that led to her definitive enshrinement and the impact of her anthology show Un mundo revuelto [World in Disorder] (Herlitzka + Faria, 2019), international interest in Paksa's oeuvre has grown in parallel with the rediscovery of the subtle code with which she sutured the abyss that opened up between the artistic and political avant-gardes beginning in the turbulent year of 1968. In the face of the historical power of its events, Paksa has reflected: “I asked myself if, after the events of May '68 I had had trouble continuing with my work, and I have to respond that in fact I did. I had an ethical problem: What sense was there for me to express myself through minimalism when confronted with the moment of profound revolt that the world was experiencing and the prevailing hunger and indigence in our country?”. The dramatic transformations affecting the world led Paksa to withdraw from the art scene in order to devote herself for four years to teaching in a crisis-bred barrio in La Tablada, in the province of Buenos Aires. She returned to artistic practice with the series Ojos ciegos [Blind Eyes] in order to coincide with one of the harshest years in the repression headed by Argentina's military junta government. In these works, Paksa takes as a platform the constructivist grid and the symbolic alphabet of the great Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres García. There, she organizes a vocabulary of interchangeable elements: angry and worried faces, clenched fists and outstretched hands, dislocated breasts, TV sets, toothbrushes, traffic lights and phallic warheads. All of them arranged on the page like words in a sentence, as part of a fragmented and juxtaposed utterance. As the art scholar Julia Dechton (University of Texas) remarked, “toward 1976 (in Argentina) the codification of messages had turned into not just a semiotic problem but also a political one. Her texts are barely perceptible. The pure colors of the spectrum and the industrial materials do not form phrases of protest. They are a sensation of exasperation, of resignation in the face of the silent denial of an oppressive, nay-saying culture."
The associations bound up with political emancipation are well known in the series Diagramas de batallas [Battle Plans] and Fuera de foco [Out of Focus], produced in times of high instability and violence, whereas, with the return to democracy in 1983, she chooses to appropriate the iconography of psychoanalysis, as we see in her pieces from the series Dibujos Rorschach [Rorschach Drawings]. In all cases, her work is defined by a poetical tension that pervades it from beginning to end: between ethics and aesthetics, structure and ambiguity, materiality and metaphor.
To complete a profile of the artist selected for Frieze Masters, one would have to point out that she also explored the field of digital art and holography. In 2004, she won the National Salon Grand Prize [Gran Premio Salón Nacional] in the category of New Media and also won a Guggenheim fellowship. Three times she was awarded the Konex Prize; she won first prize in painting in the Fortabat competition, and was invited to a residency at the Banff Centre in Canada.