Tables of work and reflection - Camden Art Centre

This large-scale presentation featured works made by Grippo from the early 1970s until his death in 2002 and includes several of his biggest and most important installations.

Influential Argentinean artist Victor Grippo originally trained as a chemist, he emerged as a painter and engraver in the politically-charged climate of Argentina during the 1950s. Grippo made his first experiments in three-dimensions the following decade.

His sculptures and installations share a fascination with the alchemical power of everyday materials. For example, in Grippo’s hands potatoes become potent symbols of dormant energy. In a number of works the electrical charge generated by potatoes is measured by means of electrodes connected to cables. The large-scale installation Man Naturalization, Nature Humanization (1977) transforms this humble foodstuff into a symbol of the transformative potential of suppressed peoples.

Grippo’s art was one of analogies: between science and art, which he sought to reconcile; and between the artist and the artisan or craftsman. He likened sculpture to a trade, in which materials are transformed from one state into another. In the installation Some Trades (1976), the dignifying power of work is represented by traditional tools used by a blacksmith, a stonecutter, a mason, a carpenter and a farmer.

Central to Grippo’s work is the ancient art of alchemy and the idea of relatedness – in which everything is connected to everything else; he was fascinated by the transformation or regeneration of materials inherent in nature. In Life, Death, Resurrection (1980) five lead forms are filled with moist black beans, which expand and burst out of their metal containers.

The exhibition also featured a selection of Grippo’s elegant boxes from the Equilibrium series as well as his last works, the poignant groups of painted plaster forms he called Anonymous.


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