Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Puma Urban Art

In school, artists were usually one of three types. There were the people who liked doing portraits, landscapes and still lifes following classic traditions (boring types). Then there were those who produced abstract doodle-style works, which either didn't portray anything or looked like a lot of miscellaneous crap thrown together and connected with swirls (stoner types). The last group, who you probably considered artists by default of any other politically correct term, expressed themselves via mutilated dolls and skulls (or like motifs) scrawled across every surface they possessed (creepy types). The first group probably missed high time for fine art, but maybe could end up as art teachers or curators. The last two groups didn't seem like they were going anywhere with their talents. They were though, to South America (obviously), and more specifically a weekend long urban art exhibit.
Since 2008 Puma has hosted an annual Urban Art exhibit in Buenos Aires. The two day long event, which wrapped the 2012 edition March 4, at the Centro Cultural de Recoleta, attracted scenesters, families and random people of all ages. International artists of all types including musicians, film makers, painters, photographers, cartoonists and tattoo artists presented their work through a variety of channels. An eclectic mix of gallery work, performances and screenings worked together to tell stories about the minutiae of life, Argentine and international cultures and the struggle of self expression for artists working outside of traditional parameters.
El Centro Cultural  de Recoleta is a beautiful facility with open air hallways, an outdoor stage and a series of indoor galleries. The stage area has an incredible view of statues, a park with palm trees and the general comings and goings of one of Buenos Aires' most exclusive neighborhoods, a place where you could easily pass hours. For those needing a reprieve from the sun, one of the indoor rooms was set up with carpeted bleachers, a live DJ and a promo table giving out free vitaminwater. Some screenings and discussions with artists were scheduled, but the rest of the event was leisurely and relaxed.
Many of the works were really out there, and a little alternative for my taste. Thus, my favorite pieces from the show were part of a customized bike exhibit. Biking was not invented in Argentine, and relative to other places is not even very popular here. However, the artists made bikes their own (Argentine) by painting the them in fileteado (a uniquely Argentine painting style) and adding leather (which Argentina is world famous for) details such as the embossed leather seat shown below.
One of my favorite exhibits wasn't actually part of the Puma exhibit, though it was open during the exhibition. It is a series of painting representing the writings of Roberto Arlt, one of Argentina's most influential twentieth century authors. The series called Aguafuertes porteñas is the namesake of Arlt's daily opinion column which was published in a Buenos Aires newspaper for more than 10 years. Ten of Arlt's titles were illustrated by more than 250 artists using a variety of techniques and styles, creating series of diverse interpretations on the same topics.
 
 
I don't have the title for these last two. (If anyone reads this and knows, tell me!) But, they represent Buenos Aires to a T, so I can't omit them. Wine from viñedo to copa, family and mate is what it's all about.

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