Leopoldo Torres Aguero, beyond Optical Art - In the eye of Hugo Greiner

Leopoldo Torres Aguero, beyond optical art

Hugo Greiner makes us discover the universe of Leopoldo Torres Aguero (1924-1995), a singular artist close to the Kinetic movement but whose spiritual and symbolic dimension takes us far beyond the borders of this movement...

Leopoldo Torres Aguero is an Argentinian painter, born in 1924. He got involved in art very early, around the age of 20, by organizing exhibitions and began to paint. Under the influence of Picasso, he is well known throughout South America for having introduced cubism there, but reinterpreting it with a form of magical realism, like what we could then see in Italy.

Aguero travels a lot and evolves according to his peregrinations. Japan first, in the 1940s when he was struck by Shintoism, France in the 1950s where he supervised the section of young artists at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. Highly recognized for his commitment to the recognition of artists from the South American school like Jesus Soto or Carlos Cruz-Diez, he was their impresario. Through aesthetics and design, he gave impetus to the creation of the South American kinetic and optical movement. He develops an optical practice on his return from Japan, but adding to it all the Zen philosophy discovered there. Unlike the kinetic artists of this period, he does not only focus on a mathematical conception, he makes sure that his painting remains in a human, sensitive dimension. He was obviously a painter before being a mathematician.

If everyone could see in it a purely kinetic work, in reality it is not the notion of movement that Aguero is looking for, but light and perception. He uses simple shapes, the square, the sphere, the circle and gives them a particular dimension through the light intensity. He seeks a form of essentialism in what he sees, believes and feels. His desire is not to lose sight, but to concentrate it and as such, his approach has nothing to do with kinetic art. He brings to his painting a whole spiritual and symbolic dimension, nourished by his experience in Japan.

The painting presented here dates from 1972

Leopoldo Torres Aguero is a musician artist, very friendly with Jorge Milchberg, founder of the group Los Incas who made Peruvian music known in the world with the song "El condor pasa". This table was developed from music by Milchberg. To construct his works, Aguero took music and brought out an algorithm that he noted on the edge of the canvas. He performs a calculation using the edges of the work which forms a perfect square. Then comes a whole job of pouring paint, work that he had developed as soon as he returned from Japan. He fixes his canvas on a stand and makes the paint flow by controlling it so as to form straight lines, while using his algorithm previously noted in pencil on the edges of his canvas. He often painted with his eyes closed and could feel the paint flowing which made this act a meditative and spiritual moment. Its drips are more or less straight, but this one is incredibly straight.

Selfless and witty, he always took more to heart to defend the artists around him rather than his own work. Leopoldo Torres Aguero died in 1995. Although very well known in South America, his work remains unrecognized in Europe, compared to the immensity of his work.