A vast panorama of Argentinean art, including works by its greatest representativesBrowse collection ›
European art from centuries XII to XIX
Argentinian art from XIX century
International art from the XX century
Argentinian art from the XX century
From July 6, 2022 to Aug. 7, 2022
Room 42, second floor
25 works on display
Curator: María Florencia Galesio
Download press kit
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes salutes Ides Kihlen on her 105th birthday with an exhibit displaying five decades of her career path, from her automatic creations ‒constantly interpersing her inquiries into music and painting‒ through her most recent works of the Pandemic series, in which black and white prevail.
Having an artistic career as lengthy as it is hidden, during eight decades Kihlen worked in her studio, indifferent to styles and movements and, above all, to the art system. Her interest was centered in creation itself, with no concern for mandates and strategies implicit in the construction of an artistic career. Her drive to create inspired her to set aside the notion of treasuring and keeping her own production, so she distroyed some of her canvases or reused them as a support for new creations, as if painting were pure expansion, mere future and an eternal work in progress.
Up to the end of the last century, her work was one of Argentina’s visual arts scene best kept secrets. It was only at the beginning of the 21st century when her paintings left her studio to be publicly displayed. In 2002 the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo organized a large retrospective that was, at the same time, her first solo exhibit. Ides was 85 years old then.
Since then, the renown of her work took Ides to exhibit it at domestic and international galleries and fairs. Keen interest by public institutions led to invitations to participate in individual and collective exhibits at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Latinoamericano in La Plata (MACLA), the Museo Caraffa in Córdoba and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires.
Today the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes joins these recognitions with this exhibit that accounts for her enormous work and of the originality and freedom of Ides Kihlen’s poetry in the field of visual arts.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Ides Kihlen was born in Santa Fe on July 10, 1917. The Paraná river, on its way through Corrientes and Chaco, was part of her early geography. The family context ‒her art-loving father and her mother, a piano enthusiast‒ went along young Ides’ interest in painting and music.
Once in Buenos Aires, at fourteen, she entered the Escuela de Artes Decorativas, then headed by Pío Collivadino. From then onwards, she never put a stop to her studies. She studied with Vicente Puig and attended Emilio Pettoruti and Juan Batlle Planas studios. On an European stay she visited the collections of the largest museums and while in Paris atended the studio of the well known painter André Lhote. Starting in 1961, she studied at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Cárcova, where she had Kenneth Kemble, an artist from the Informalist group, as one of her teachers. In the 80’s she worked with Adolfo Nigro in his studio. He was shown her works for the first time. She completed her education with advanced studies in art history, to understand the context of art production. All this experience constituted the seed of an original production, unfolded throughout an art career spanning more than ninety years, outside the museum and gallery tracks.
Her lively spirit can be sensed when entering her studio. There are traces of her ceaseless work: brushes, paint tubes, scissors, paper clippings and rags covering all possible spaces. A piano, music stands, drawing boards and a coffee table (on which she works when not doing it right on the floor) set up the stage where she paints every day. In the privacy of this almost sacred place, tirelessly, she has followed a routine combining moments devoted to painting with others set aside to play her own pieces on the piano.
Kihlen’s production went through a first stage in which figurative language prevailed. This was left behind in the 60s. “Figuration left me as if it were diluting itself” explains the artist. This change of direction implied a process (that continues even today) in which she explored the roads of abstraction, always within her own individual experience.
Changes during this first stage showed images in which rectangular forms are suggested upon textured backgrounds. At the same time, Kihlen started to incorporate spots, lines, circles and triangles. These elements continue living in her compositions today, on occasions as a result of an automatic process. Then numbers and letters break in, dealt with slate-type backgrounds interspersed with lines and colored shapes.
Around the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the new millenium, black backgrounds became present, interrupted by white-line arabesques that freely interplay with colored shapes. He also uses black or white painted paper stripes, like a piano keyboard or a tiger’s skin modulating the surface of her works. From this moment onwards, her work can be organized in series (Negra, Blanca, Del Tigre and Roja).
In the last few years these backgrounds lighted up until they became white. At the same time, her growing eagerness to experiment with matter and textures led her to forcefully explore collage’s expressive possibilities. She also resorts to strings and colored papers. Rythmically distributed on the surface, they generate movements that seem to follow the artist’s internal music at the time of creation. Sometimes, background and forefront play with the juxtaposition of overlapping pieces of paper and are mutually excited as a result of the effect of color, where, in addition, the tactile gains relevance.
Predominance of white backgrounds yields to a vibrant red which in turn dialogues with collage areas. In other works, the lines’ body language invigorates the background which assumes a predominant role. The series devoted to musical scores (Partituras) presents a type of synesthesia: the artist resorts to printed scores and musical notations interrupted by colorful collage.
In the presence of Kihlen’s production it is possible to wonder about her closeness to Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky and Joan Miró’s abstraction. However, her vital direction took her along an independent and autonomous course. Ides reclaims the importance of handcraft in her collages, the joy of color, matter and texture. Over her work, intuition and games fly over, speeding up creativity, extoling poetry.
María Florencia Galesio