press release

Mirtha Dermisache
10.08.2017— 16.10.2017
Curator Agustín Pérez Rubio

This exhibition revolves around the work of Argentine artist Mirtha Dermisache (Buenos Aires, 1940-2012), from her first book produced in 1967 to her final pieces produced in the 2000s. Dermisache’s body of calligraphic works entailed what Roland Barthes called “illegible writing”; starting in 1971, that French critic took great interest in Dermisache’s art, pointing out her ability to get at “the essence of writing.”

Dermisache was more concerned with the publication of her works than with the idea of the original. Her production lies somewhere between visual art and writing; it encompasses books, letters, texts, diaries, postcards, and other formats as it experiments with the expressive potential of the line rendered by hand on paper. Though she was associated with the Grupo de los 13, the Instituto Di Tella, and the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC), she largely worked alone to produce an intimate body of work.

The exhibition combines publishing devices and their manipulations with original works to interrogate the most abstract facets of writing, like the question of time, musicality and rhythm, the visual nature of handwriting, the search for meaning, writing as system, and the relationship between handwriting and typography. The exhibition also evidences the artist’s creative processes, including legible texts and exercises, as well as her extensive work as an educator at the Taller de Acciones Creativas (TAC) and in the six editions of the Jornadas del Color y la Forma (1974-1981). The exhibition project is based on research in her personal archives, which will also be on exhibit to provide context and to reconcile seemingly opposing tendencies in her production like notions of discipline and freedom of expression, edition and original, the mass-scale and the individual.

The exhibition catalogue—a joint production of MALBA and Fundación Espigas—will contain original texts by Agustín Pérez Rubio, artistic director of MALBA; Guy Schraenen, editor and founder of the Archive for Small Press & Communication (A.S.P.C.); writer and poet Belén Gache; and Lucia Cañada (UBA-IDEAS- UNSAM).

Mirtha Dermisache
Buenos Aires, 1940-2012
She studied at the Manuel Belgrano and Prilidiano Pueyrredón academies of fine art. She worked on her first book of graphisms in 1966 and 1967. Starting in the seventies, her work was exhibited at the CAYC, directed by Jorge Glusberg, and enjoyed the recognition of figures like Jorge Romero Brest, Amancio Williams, Oscar Masotta, Edgardo Cozarinsky, and others.

Her work was exhibited at Ulises Carrión’s gallery Other Books and So (Amsterdam) and published by Belgian editor and curator Guy Schraenen’s Archive for Small Press and Communication. Dermisache’s graphisms have also been published by Marc Dachy in Antwerp, and appeared in Flash Art, Doc(k)s, Kontext, Ephemera, and Axe.

Group shows featuring her work include From Figuration Art to Sistems Art in Argentina, Camden Arts Centre (London); Arte de Sistemas en Latinoamerica 1974, the Internationaal Cultureel Centrum (Antwerp) and the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels); and Arte e Ideología. CAyC al aire libre. Arte de Sistemas II, the Museo de Arte Moderno (Buenos Aires). In addition to her visual production, she was an art educator, working at the Taller de Acciones Creativas (TAC) and other workshops, and on the six editions of the Jornadas del Color y la Forma (1974 to 1981)—large-scale public workshops where different techniques were taught in order to develop adult participants’ creative capacity and to further free expression in graphic media.