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Jose Gurvich: Un Canto a la Vida/A Song to Life

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Constructive in Black and White by José       Gurvich
Constructive in Black and White

Constructive Man in Red by José       Gurvich
Constructive Man in Red

Cosmic Couple by José       Gurvich
Cosmic Couple

Cosmic Man by José       Gurvich
Cosmic Man

Cosmic Man by José       Gurvich
Museum of Latin American Art ,
Sep 24, 2000 - Jan 14, 2001
Long Beach, CA, USA

Gurvich: A narrative walk-through of the exhibit
by Cynthia MacMullin



The foundation for Gurvich's visual language began in 1944 when he joined the Taller Torres-Garcia, or TTG. Joaquí­n Torres-Garcí­a, the revered master of Constructivism, returned to Montevideo after forty years in Europe, where he was an active member of the avant-garde International Constructivism movement, begun in Russia in 1913. The Taller Torres Garcia in Uruguay was formed in 1943, and remained active until 1963. Torres-Garcí­a instructed his students to paint within the parameters of abstraction:to study composition, perspective, and proportion to produce constructive structures; to simplify the figure and object; to employ the use of black, white and the three primary colors yellow, blue, and red; and to maintain the frontality of the paintings' subject. José Gurvich remained at the epicenter of this movement during the greater part of his life. Many of Gurvich's drawings and canvases from this period reflect the key elements of the Constructivist vocabulary.

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This series of paintings amplify Jose Gurvich's love affair with the couple and this union is one of his most important and recurring themes. The inspiration for his couples is drawn from the traditional Jewish song Shir a Shirim (The Song of the Singers) from which numerous dances and folk songs were performed on the Israeli kibbutz. These songs praise the consecrated couple as the pillar of Jewish society and celebrate the various forms of love-the corporeal, the cosmic, the sexual and the sensual.

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During this period, Gurvich also executed an extensive and fantastic series of compositions depicting strange space ships and astral beings floating in the extra-terrestrial sky. The catalyst for these works was the exploration of space, the first orbit of the Earth by a manned spaceship on April 12, 1961 and the landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. Gurvich read H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Aldous Huxley and most especially, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. In their writings he found references to inter-stellar and inter-planetary journeys searching for intelligent life beyond the Earth. Gurvich's fertile imagination responded with optimism to these visions. His fantastic cosmic world did not fear an unknown future. The colors of red, white, and blue refer to the space race between the United States and Russia, and offer an observation on the use of technology to advance humankind. Illustrated in these works are missiles, space stations, and scattered flying stick figures seeking refuge on orbiting planets.

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