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Argentinean Contemporary Art

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Espiritú guardián

21st century
231.1 cm x 365.7 cm (91 in. x 144 in.)

Matias Duville (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1974 - ) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Argentinean
Medium and Support: Acrylic on board
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Susman Collection, 2008
Accession Number: 2008.151.1/3-3/3

At first glance, this painting seems entirely abstract. On closer examination, one notices what looks like brown tree trunks surrounded by green leaves or grass. Almost hidden is a small cabin at the upper left. Two boots and two gloves to the right, huge relative to the surrounding landscape, suggest a reclining figure that is more absent than present. The unusual support for this painting—three panels of chipboard—vies with the painted image for the viewer’s attention. Around the perimeter, flecks of acrylic mimic the board’s compressed woodchips in their size and shape. The artist further emphasized the support material by chipping away at it and then affixing the detached chunks to the panels. The attack on the surface echoes the subject of the painting: a landscape that appears to have suffered a trauma. As Duville has explained, he aims to “merge the narrative and action with the surface.” Duville’s home during his teenage years was located between the forest and the ocean, and his immersion in the natural world may have contributed to a message that permeates his apocalyptic landscapes: the forces of nature can easily overpower civilization, destroying the most monumental of human accomplishments.

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