“Painting is a battlefield… about what is, what is not, what ought to be, what I like, what I hate, what I love.” (Guillermo Kuitca, 2006)
Guillermo Kuitca is, quite simply, a divinely gifted painter. An amiable person who leads a very discreet life, reclusive rather than extroverted. An artist who protects and prizes his privacy. A painter who, despite all, has remained true to his hometown Buenos Aires through the decades, who goes about his business without much ado, who constantly experiments and yet always returns to his own core, an artist who likes to be the way he is and who explores time and again who he is and what his painting could be like.
My regular visits to Guillermo’s studio became a beloved habit of mine that I really miss today. We used to look at his most recent works or other, not yet completed ones intensely and for a long time. Working together in deep concentration like that, we immersed ourselves in contemplation and gained an incredible closeness to the works that would not have been possible in any public space. We all but perceived the atmospheric vibrations of his works. Thanks to the regularity and frequency of my visits to Guillermo’s studio, I was always very well informed about his production, and, over a certain period of time, I was accordingly able to purchase the works I regarded as the most interesting ones for the collection.
Guillermo Kuitca’s works require the viewer’s attention; they are not easily digestible; they cannot be reduced to a common, easily definable point; rather, they constitute ever new paraphrases of his engagement with what art or painting actually is. Kuitca belongs to those painters who create «from within themselves» as it were. In this sense, he is absolutely committed to a «classic» art canon, which takes its beginning and end in the creator of the works. He describes nothing but his own, nothing but his specific (view of the) world. All themes of his visual art production are like excursions into the wide world that ultimately serve for self-verification. Countless variations of his own bed as a child as the smallest unit—which nevertheless encompasses our entire cycle from conception to birth to death—form the starting point from where he conquered the rest of the world in his painting. He successively tapped into the larger units of our life, starting from the room and the apartment, presented as floor plans, up to «global order».
His maps form a central thread weaving through his oeuvre. Of course, they don’t serve the immediate purpose of orientation. Kuitca rather uses them to playfully sense out unknown territories that he carefully explores—as an instrument of self-verification to understand where he is not; in order to find his bearings in this world, into which he was thrown, and in order to allow himself to lose his way playfully, without, however, really getting lost.
Kuitca likewise takes a keen interest in life as a stage, as a «theatrum mundi», in which we nolens volens participate and which he sublimates in his paintings. The private as well as the public drama lurks in every corner and manifests itself most beautifully in the most artificial and hysterical of all our traditional forms of art: opera. For Wagner’s «Flying Dutchman» at Teatro Colón in 2003, Kuitca demonstrated his skills for outstanding stage design.
The sharp navigating at the edge of nothing, the permanent threat to humankind with its incredible vulnerability always remain themes in Guillermo Kuitca’s works. This also holds true for the potential disintegration and extinction of humanity that loops through his entire work and comes into full effect with a wonderful symbolic force in many of his works.