El Museo del Barrio has opened a bold exhibition, The Illusive Eye, that aims to defy conventional understandings about the origins of abstracionism. The title of the show already sets the tone: it is a direct comment on MoMA’s 1965 exhibition, The Responsive Eye, which explored geometric abstraction and Op art across Europe and the United States, but mostly disregarded the large number of Latin American artists working on those practices at that time.
The Illusive Eye broadens MoMA’s aproach, weaving back together Latin American, American and European artists. The works on show also represent the more “exotic” side of abrastracionism, rather than the “purity” principles of the movement. Sub-themes, such as mandalas, dervishes, apparitions, hypnosis and the notion of the sublime remind visitors of the spiritual motivations underneath some of these artists’ practices – the very “founding fathers” of abstraction, Malevich, Mondrian and Kandinsky were followers of Theosophy, an esoteric science.
As you walk trough the galleries, you will see a multitude of artists representing diverse views – from Carmen Herrera and GEGO to Josef Albers and Frank Stella. There are a few Brazilian artists/works, among them Lygia Clark, Helio Oiticica and Lygia Pape – her astonishing installation with gold thread at this exhibit (Tteia) is a small scale version of the work on permanent view at Inhotim (Brazil).
Tatiane Rosa Schilaro is a Brazilian writer and curator who lives in-between New York and California. She has an MA in Contemporary Art History, an MFA in Art Criticism and Writing from SVA-NY and she’s a PhD Student in Visual Studies at UC Santa Cruz, CA.