Profile of Graciela Hasper: THE GRAMMARIAN OF COLOR

BY DINA SZEINBLUM
PICTURES COURTESY OF DOT FIFTYONE & FAENA FORUM

TODAY WE EXPLORE THE LIFE AND WORK OF ONE OF ARGENTINA’S MOST NOTABLE ARTISTS. GRACIELA “GACHI” HASPER, MOSTLY KNOWN IN THE UNITED STATES FOR HER COLORFUL GIANT MURAL PRESENTED AT THE FAENA FORUM BUILDING IN MIAMI BEACH,
DURING ART BASEL WEEK 2016, WILL HAVE HER FIRST SOLO SHOW IN MIAMI THIS FALL 2018.

FOR THIS ARTICLE, WE TOOK A LOOK AT HER WORK, EXAMINING HER ARTISTIC LONG JOURNEY THROUGH GEOMETRY AND COLOR AND IMMERSING OURSELVES IN HER ENCHANTING WORLD OF CHOREOGRAPHIES OF LIGHT AND COLOR.

With a fascination for color, and arguably a “pigmenttamer”, Hasper, an award-winning artist, belongs to the family of abstract painters. Through her painting, drawing, photography, video, or installations in the urban public space, she explores geometry, color and the interaction and fluidity of shapes in space.
Observing any of her works is like looking through a kaleidoscope, a beautiful blast of brilliant colors, used to evoke a powerful response from viewers– a shock in their eyes that she calls “a straight hit into the eye retina, so the eye, cannot rest.”

HASPER’S COLOR GRAMMAR
Her painting aesthetic is clean and direct, marked by sharp orthogonal lines and many bright colors. Basically, the main tools and content of Hasper’s work are color and light. Her language is the geometric figures, rhombuses, squares, circles, and lines in vibrant colors– mutant forms in constant movement.

For her, every color has a different emotional weight; she uses especially the purest and brilliant ones like red, blue, and yellow–colors which “catch the eye”– combining them harmoniously so as to create rhythm and movement inside every piece of art, like a perfect choreography.
On her compositional universe, she has commented: “I always painted circles and rectangles, and their variations and deformations. She continues: “I associate the orthogonal with civilization, with construction, with the city, with the house-home. The cube is the dwelling, the square is an invention of man and the round shapes are the geometric figures that are in nature. Nature is full of circles: the sun, the moon, the planets, the drop in the water and the circle is also the in the night…“

“You have a physical relationship to what you are doing. You are surrounded by the painting so you can experience the materiality of the work“

About the use of color, she states: “Color is quite devalued. There is a feminine stereotype connected to the use of so much color, it is read in an associative chain as something minor, secondary. And I like to go on the side of the unvalued, to go along the side of the non-traveled. I like to take another route.”

BECOMING “GACHI” HASPER
Hasper, 55, lives and works in booming Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was born in Buenos Aires to a Jewish immigrant family. Her grandparents came from Russia and Transylvania, and as a child, she learned Hebrew. Along with Spanish she also learned English, Portuguese, and Italian.
As she recalls, her interest in art started after some time spent in Israel, when she was 17 years old, by the time democracy returned to Argentina in 1984. A few years afterward, in 1987, she toured Europe, where she had the first contact with art on a big scale. That was the turning point in her life, a kind of “revelation” which sparked the light of what later became a passionate and thriving career as an artist.

After the journey to Europe and upon returning to Argentina, she began her studies with other artists. Between 1987 and 1991, she studied with Diana
Aisenberg while also pursuing independent studies of philosophy and art history. She attended workshops and theoretical seminars as a fundamental part of her professional training but never attended traditional art school, which at that time was greatly influenced by Argentina’s dictatorship policies.
Shortly after, in 1991, she was awarded the Antorchas Foundation scholarship for the residency of Guillermo Kuitca (1991) which propelled her career to an international level, allowing her art to be displayed in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
In 1997, she participated in the Art Omi residency, New York. In 2000, she completed her first residency in the United States, at Apex Art in New York City with a Fulbright/FNA Grant, and in 2002 the residency of the Chinati Foundation Museum in Marfa, Texas.
In 2005, she was a fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency Program, and since 2010 has been a jury member of the program.
“Abstraction is like connecting inwards. For me, painting happens with your eyes shut. It is not a representation of the world, it is a representation of ideas.”

EXHIBITIONS
Graciela Hasper has exhibited widely including several major exhibitions. In 1993, Hasper participated in an exhibition curated by Jorge Gumier Maier, Nicolás Guagnini, and Pablo Siquier, held at the Centro Cultural Rojas Buenos Aires. Titled Crimen y Ornamento [Crime and Ornament], it was one of the first exhibitions acknowledging a link to the young generation emerging in Argentina in the 90’s– only a few years after the end of the military dictatorship– with the MADI abstraction, an international abstract art movement initiated in Buenos Aires in 1946. The artists’ group became known as the Rojas Group and the exhibition subsequently, was shown in New York City, curated by Carlos Basualdo.
Even though Hasper grew up with the military regime, her art does not relate to it through documentation or denunciation. Her art is just about abstraction. About this, she says, “In Argentina, abstraction was repressed because it did not ‘explain’ national values. It had no value. So I adopted something that had no value and tried to make it valuable, an act of resistance.“
20 years later in 2013, the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires in the San Telmo neighborhood was presenting her exhibition The Grammar of Color with around 60 paintings covering two decades of her enduring trajectory, a landmark in her successful career.
Key to her work, for Graciela Hasper there is no up or down in her paintings, and each piece can be seen from any side. “Hasper’s paintings have four sides on the back so that if owners decide to place the work as they wish, they can nd their own north,” explains the director of the museum, Victoria Noorthoorn.

LEFT IMAGE: Installation at Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires. Untitled, 2013

Hasper also showed in individual exhibitions and integrated collective exhibitions in prominent institutions and venues in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Houston, New York City, Paris, Austin, Montbéliard, and Santiago de Chile. In Buenos Aires, her pieces were exhibited at the Maison Rouge Paris in 2015, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires in 2013, Museo Cara a in Córdoba and the Centro Cultural Bicentenario among many others.

HASPER’S LARGE-SCALE DIMENSION
In the last few years, with a wide experience in the art in public spaces, the work of Graciela Hasper has expanded to a larger scale, even encompassing architectural interventions.
In 2013, Hasper was commissioned by the City of Buenos Aires with a project for the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires called Nudo de Autopista [Highway Knot], in which she painted the concrete columns of several intersecting knots of highways in Buenos Aires.

Untitled

 

Article published JW magazine Fall 2018/ Pr@jwmagazine.com