León Ferrari: collages, brailles, ink works, sculptures

Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art (Museo Moderno)

Donation Ferrari 2015

The 2015 donation includes eight collages from the series "Rereading of the Bible", produced between 1986 and 1987, and eleven works made from press clippings. The construction of these works continues using strategies of assembly which consist in juxtaposing languages, speeches and representative images of different cultures, as the western one and the oriental one. In these works, Ferrari reflects on Western religion, politics, and culture with a critical eye, hoping to shock his audience.
From 1997, León adds as a resource the use of the Braille alphabet, which gets to occupy a fundamental place in his poetics. "Free Union", produced in 1998, is a reproduction of Man Ray's photograph of a sensual feminine face which León invites to caress with an intervention, in the Braille alphabet, of André Breton's poem mentioned in the title and beginning with the words: My wife with hair of burning splinters / With thoughts of summer lightning / With hour-glass waist...

In braille:

Since I was born, in 1899,
beside the concave vine and the deep cistern,
frittering time, so brief in memory,
kept taking from me all my eye-shaped world.
Both days and nights would wear away the profiles
of human letters and of well-loved faces.
My wasted eyes would ask their useless questions
of pointless libraries and lecterns.

Blue and vermillion both are now a fog,
both useless sounds. The mirror I look into
is grey. I breathe a rose across the garden,
a wistful rose, my friends, out of the twilight.
Only the shades of yellow stay with me
and I can see only to look on nightmares.

Jorge Luis Borges, Blind Man

The Braille alphabet first appears captured in photographs transcribing poems, and is then used to add intensity to his opinions on religious imagery, UN publications, or news stories.

To produce the series We Didn't Know, Ferrari collected press clippings during the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983), testifying to the state violence taking place in those times.

Ferrari experimented with a huge variety of different inks and paints.

I've been drawing for more than thirty years without a defined purpose...

...because I love it as a form of expression, as a mental exercise, and as a source for the potential renovation of language.

I draw words that tell stories...

...manuscripts whose texts remind of voices.

The way one writes, or draws the words, adds to their significance in the same way as tone of voice does when speaking.

And I write drawings to recount thoughts; images that words cannot express.

León Ferrari, 1997

Within the donation, the watercolors exemplify the use that Ferrari grants to the color using of the transparencies which allow him to play with the medium, are a continuation of his explorations around writing from the 1960s and 1970s.

Ferrari has expressed his criticism of Western culture using many different formats, including three-dimensional work in a huge variety of materials, throughout his entire career.

I ignore the formal value of these pieces.

The only thing for that I ask from the art is to help me say what I think as clearly as possible, inventing visual and critical signs that allow me condemn the barbarism of the West with the greatest efficiency...

... someone may demonstrate to me that this is not art; I would have no problem, I would not change my path, I would limit myself to change its name: I would cross out art and call it politics, corrosive critique, anything.

León Ferrari

Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art (Museo Moderno)
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