In August last year, Mike and I viewed an exhibition of ceramic sculptures by Tania Astapenco at the Museo del Gaucho, in downtown Montevideo. This gracious building, dating from 1888, was formerly a private home (Palacio Herber Jackson) It’s now owned by the nation’s principal bank, Banco Republica Oriental del Uruguay, BROU, and houses a historic collection of Uruguayan money and some displays of the gaucho history and culture. The museum part is up on the second floor – and while interesting enough, it is all in need of some sensitive modernisation/conservation.
The whole interior from the dimensions of the rooms and staircases to the eclectic but predominantly Parisian style says ‘luxury was here’. The entry from the street is marble, and entering through massive, ornately carved, solid inner doors with bevelled glass panes, you pass through a marble vestibule and ascend the grand marble stairs. The flooring on the first floor is of beautiful inlaid marble, and lovely wood parquet flooring. These three rooms periodically house art and cultural exhibitions.
On my first visit for years, I was unexpectedly thrilled by this exhibition, and began to write about it within a day or two; but Life produced a distracting drama, after which I went to Brasil to teach, and in all that my partly written review was forgotten, until today. It’s been lovely to process my photos and re-read the catalogue.
The exhibition of sculptures by Tania Astapenco, was titled Pajaros en la Cabeza (birds in the head) That notion comes from a quotation by Chilean poet, songwriter, painter, sculptor, embroiderer and potter, Violetta Parra (1917-67) who wrote “Creation is a bird without a flight plan, which will never fly in a straight line” A lovely concept to which I totally relate, and the best works did have some air of creativity in flight about them, some with a touch of the wild that spoke to me, even before I read about Hiparquia !
There were many more pieces, including plates and wall plaques, but these were my favourites:
I would love to see her working in her studio with her principle materials, muds and adhestive pastes, to which she adds wood, paper, iron and amounts of different composition clays or sands. Astapenco refers to experimenting with all these effects, as being “in the dance of creation”. Using her array of materials she creates wonderful textures and artistic effects that I did not expect to see in such an exhibition, but then, I’m not really knowledgeable about ceramics.