Argentina's Top 5: Guido Ignatti and The Beauty In What We Have Lost

A couple of weeks from flying down to Argentina, I committed to find the top five artists there, according to me, of course. The first one has a brand new website and is Mister Guido Ignatti.

Guido Ignatti is like me. He cannot wait. Mastermind of his own destruction, he holds court. I am fat, he is ugly but both are sexy and manipulate the planets around us to get away with it in style. Like the sun, we mark the day. Everything he does, I love and hate. There is a high potency but also low energy. He is the sun and the moon in one asteroid. He knows it. It pains him so he hides away. According to him, he is an artist but he is not. He is also a father but, apparently, he is not. It is in that in-betweeness that I find him fascinating and his art so quintiessentially Argentine.

The critics of his generation (I hope) do not know what to do with him. Teo Waifred wrote his catalogue for one of his key shows called La Consulta and rightly pointed on one aspect of his work that to me is defining and is the manipulation of temporality: La consulta
He links this skill to a certain ‘Argentinidad’ that makes it even more relevant. In Nora Fisch’s gallery, Guido had gathered a series of objects that are directly linked to a very middleclass Argentine experience which is always tied up to a sense of both superiority and instability. It is about justifying more than living. It is about guilt more than power. It is never action but reaction. That is the way Argentine people have lived for generations and the delusion of grandeur became a lie and that lie became a mirror with the projection of a woman with fake lips, tits and God knows what else. Yesterday, she said that the one of the most powerful industrial groups in the country should be taken down to its knees and go bankrupt. Guido’s, how to call them, ‘objects’ create the illusion of their own destruction.

Guido captured that justification as a ‘gathering’ of objects that like perfume convey a feeling of uncanniness and discomfort but they can also convey the allure of love. It is as if in the moment of being uttered, the terms of his visual sintaxis becomes a joke of itself. So, Guido manages to create a work that in the same act of constitution as art evaporates as memory. Guido’s problem as an artist comes also from its Argentinity. His visual language finds him in the international motorway far too close to Thomas Demand urban reconstructions and Anne Hardy’s gone wrong parties. Argentine as he is, Guido does not take the pains to, like Demand, reconstruct everything in paper like a hyperrational Nazi origami. He does not invest his time either in the reconstruction of a party that is not going to be enjoyed. He would enjoy it and join it with one of his fabulous T-shirts, Anne Wintour style. He injects something that for the Dusseldorf school and the London East end derivations of that same group (mainly centered around Vilma Gold and Maureen Paley’s galleries) is anathema. He somehow makes these islands of depressive middleclass boredom into something poetic. There is something in the direction of the beautiful in them. In the same vein than the film American Beauty, he beautifies what is unbeautifiable. Argentine are used to that in the same way than Cuban were used to that twenty years ago. His message seems to be more than an omen. Yes, let’s face it, that moment has arrived. We are Cuba. That is what happens when you flirt with the future and you turn into something ‘sweet’, ‘cool’, or ‘monchito loquito’. Time becomes past and the present gets flaccid and impotent.

It is in this crossroads of temporality, modernity and its promise as ‘lo lindo’, that Guido’s work clicks. I accused him of not being commercial enough for not making C-prints of his installations. I was wrong. He was right. His work only works in the here and now of the experience of the viewer. Like a crucifix during Mass. It only makes sense there. That makes him very close to Angela de la Cruz and to what I would call a school of post religious objecthood that unfolds minimalism inside out to tell a story of interrupted beauty and innocence. Far from Thomas Demands delusions of grandeur and intellectualism, Guido’s dissects our pathetic reality and turns himself a historical man into a mirror of us. The story of a middle class that just got too spoilt.

Enjoying his work is almost an exclusively Argentine treat. With a brand new website you can try anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, Guido Ignatti, one of Argentina’s top five.

Rodrigo Cañete
Septiembre 2012

Love art not people