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Nicolás García Uriburu and the Coloration of the Grand Canal
From June 29, 2018 to Nov. 11, 2018
39 and 40. First floor
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This exhibition constitutes the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes’ commemoration of Nicolás García Uriburu’s intervention from June of 1968 of dying the waters of the Grand Canal in Venice green during the Biennial—and without the organizers’ knowledge—which signified an unprecedented aesthetic event in contemporary art, as a reflection not only on ecological catastrophe, but also on the role of art and how it configures the world.
Though seemingly simple, many of the issues that were redefining the way art was being made and thought about at that time were condensed in this gesture, such as art’s aesthetic autonomy, the role played by institutions and the public and the use of new materials and means of expression.
Fully immersed in these debates, the artist considered water to be an ideal support for his work; in this way he transformed it into an immense canvas, a penetrable work that the public could navigate: art was expanding the limits of painting to intervene in real space.
With the passing of time, this large scale installation came to be an emblematic action among different manifestations of performance and conceptual art, where the primacy of objects in the art system was put to the test by viewers’ active participation and the relevance of processes and experiences.
Fifty years later, this exhibition brings together testimonies from that era and in relation to other essential instances of coloring that García Uriburu carried out between 1968 and 1974. Along with a group of contemporary paintings, they shed light on some of the ethical and aesthetic propositions he formulated during six essential years of his career.