Adrián Villar Rojas’ Larger than Life Sculptures From Another Universe

published in: Art By Marcia Argyriades, 02 July 2011

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photo © Oliver Haas

What will the last piece of art ever to be made by a human look like before we disappear from the face of the earth? With this question in mind, 31-year-old Argentinean artist Adrián Villar Rojas created his imposing installation at the (current) 54th Venice Biennale (June 4, 2011 – November 27, 2011).  Located in a privileged space at the Artigliere in the very heart of the Arsenale, his project consists of a group of oversized site-specific sculptures made of clay over a framework of cement, burlap and wood; the ‘larger than life’ installation is enigmatically entitled "The Murderer of Your Heritage."

With more than two-months of working in-situ with a team of builders, engineers and sculptors, Adrián Villar Rojas presented “The Murderer of Your Heritage,” the fast-rising talented artist is the youngest artist to this day to be given the honour of national representation.  Argentina carries a long history in the Venice Biennale, as it was the first Latin American nation to participate in 1901.  This year, Argentina has been granted a permanent pavilion in the Arsenale's Sale d'Armi, which it undertook to restore.  Additionally, it has also mounted a group exhibition off-site, at the Ca' Giustinian, titled "Memory and Freedom in 20th-Century Argentine Art."
 

photo © Oliver Haas

The larger than life clay and cement sculptures crowd the 250-square meter pavilion, running perpendicularly from floor to ceiling; the handmade sculptures challenge the conceptualist traditions of Argentinean art.  Silky-soft textures alternate with passages that are vastly textured, as if a colossal monster appeared right before the humans disappeared and ferociously moulded the clay surface.  The larger than life sculptures take the form of hybrid beings – beings on the verge of fiction, a cross-breed of half-machine, half-plant like fictional creatures.  These are creatures from a far-flung planet which begs one to question whether this may be the planet where human beings now reside?  The artist does of course base theories of multi-universes, which state that many different universes could coexist at Artiglierie. Could they be seen as simultaneous apparitions of these alternative worlds in ours, calling for our attention to the other paths that humankind could have taken during its evolutionary history?  Villar Roja’s search for the inexplicable, the parallel universe, fiction vs. reality and evolutionary deviations thereby pervades the work.
 

photo © Oliver Haas

The colossal sculptures change the relationship between the viewer and the space where the viewer feels inferior to these large scale sculptures.  A cave-like feeling is given to the viewer as the height of the entrance was condensed and a special drywall construction encloses the sculptures.  A special light study works dramatically and sceneographically on the sculptures giving off an intense feeling; a feeling of agony and mystery as if a magical act will to be performed.   The sculptures are positioned in such a way that along with the existing setting and lighting installation, a strong dialogue is created among them.

During the opening, Adrián Villar Rojas' work was awarded with the 9th Benesse Prize addressed to a "promising artist trying to break new artistic ground with an experimental and pioneering spirit.”

photo © Oliver Haas

>> Adrián Villar Rojas is a talented young artist who has been receiving important critical attention over the last few years. With him representing Argentina at the Venice Biennial, we deepen our compromise with the emergent production, insufflate energy and vitality to the new venue, and bet on the future by creating a platform with which to establish an ongoing dialogue with the international art scene." /////// "His work possesses a distinct personal tone. It combines formal experimentation with the construction of a narrative, which allows him to reflect on art, its forms of appearance, and its meanings, as if it were the end of time and the end of the world. His last pieces are derived from a story which speculates on the present from a hypothetical future, unfolding a political dimension of fantasy. Focused on that end of the world—ours—he suggests that we rethink art as a shelter for existence, passion and sensibility." /////// "At the same time, Villar Rojas sees his work as an alternative to the traditional Latin American art production, linked to simplicity and ready-made. For this reason, he embarks on ambitious and complex projects, which intend to hold a dialogue with the works of his international peers at the same level of potentiality and risk''.<<  Curator Rodrigo Alonso

photo © Oliver Haas

An exceptional work, a must see if you are somewhere nearby, as the sculptural installations will be destroyed at the end of the Biennale; what will remain is only photographs, and books, and our Yatzer article to keep the story of this work alive!  To push this concept even further, the artist will develop a similar massive piece at the Jardin de Tuileries, Paris, during 2011, with the cooperation of SAM ART Projects and the Musée du Louvre.

photo © Oliver Haas

ABOUT the artist ///
Adrián Villar Rojas (Rosario, 1980) studied Fine Arts at the University of Rosario, Argentina. His work has been exhibited at international venues such as Serpentine Gallery (London), CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts (San Francisco), Galería Kurimanzutto (Mexico, DF), Akademie der Künste (Berlin), Galería Ruth Benzacar (Buenos Aires), Museo de Arte Moderno de San Pablo (Brazil), X Bienal de Cuenca (Ecuador), II Bienal del Fin del Mundo (Ushuaia) and II Trienal Poligráfica de San Juan (Puerto Rico). During 2011, he was also been appointed for the12th Istanbul Biennial.

photo © Oliver Haas

photo © Oliver Haas

sources:

Adrián Villar Rojas, 54th Venice Biennale

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