Alfredo Londaibere (Buenos Aires, 1955-2017) believed painting could concentrate all an artist’s capacity for expression and all the truth about art. Painting was his language, his economy, and his field of action. He explored it from multiple perspectives in his different roles as an artist, curator and teacher, based on a work system with a guild logic that focused on his craft.
The Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires presents I am holy, the first panoramic exhibition of his work that tells the story of his religious conversion through the images he produced along the way. Religion took on a coded form in his work, becoming embodied in it to then take flight in a flow of consciousness, becoming prayer, thought and invocation. Like a portal, his work became a hinge between two worlds.
His works were a coming together of classic European art, primitive Christianity, baroque colonial painting, pagan, Catholic and Afro-descendant beliefs, central and peripheral modernisms, east and west, the avant garde and local appropriations, the artisan system and the learned arts, elite culture and popular consumption. Painting also gave him a field of research that he explored through diverse techniques and materialities which he used to revisit traditional genres, and which at the same time became a way to reach a spiritual state that became increasingly explicit in his themes, his procedures and his vision of the world. Londaibere ultimately made painting a personal religion and a daily procession.
I am holy brings together a broad group of works – many of them for the first time in public – from his surreal first pencil drawings from the 1970s to his last ensembles of paintings and collages made between 2013 and his death. In these works, the immediacy configured a way of making that was meditative and centred on aesthetic enjoyment, appearing to leave behind the hermetic impression of his earlier series. His assemblages, produced with crushed cans, are also present, the beauty of consumption affected by waste and scavenging. These works bring together some of the key visual themes of the 1990s and early 2000s, including the recuperation of “minor” techniques and popular materials in the quest to reinstate their sacredness. Exvotos, syncretic icons and a mix of opaque, deformed gloss, like the alpaca sash that covers his paintings, like popular shrines and trinkets from the neighbourhood of Once, so mysterious and yet there to be unveiled.