Born in Buenos Aires in 1966.
Studies: 1984-l987, Visual Arts at the National School of Plastic Arts of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Federal District, Mexico. 1989-1991, Art, Faculty of Humanities (Filosofía y Letras), University of Buenos Aires.
Grants: 1991-1993, Art Workshop coordinated by artist Guillermo Kuitca, Antorchas Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 1998, Resident Artist, Centre Regional d'Art Contemporain, Antorchas Foundation, Montbéliard, France. 2000, Resident Artist, Espace de l'Art Concret, Mouans-Sartoux, France. 2000, Encuentro de Confrontación de Obra (Work Confrontation Meeting), Trama Project, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2001, Grant to artistic creation, Antorchas Foundation, Buenos Aires.
Individual shows: 2002 Photos from December 20th, 2001, Cabildo Nacional, “Aguante Cultural del 19 de diciembre”, Buenos Aires. “2001Socialista”, Dabbah-Torrejón Gallery, Buenos Aires. “S/T”, Casona de los Olivera, Buenos Aires. 2000 “Ensayo de un Museo Libertario” (Attempt of a Libertarian Museum), Federación Libertaria Argentina, Buenos Aires. “Magdalena Jitrik in Arcimboldo”, Arcimboldo Gallery, Buenos Aires. “Filles indignes de l’art concret”, Espace de l’Art Concret, Mouans-Sartoux, France. 1999 “Desobediencia” (Disobedience), Galería del Rojas, Buenos Aires. 1997 “Revueltas - 11 pinturas de Magdalena Jitrik” (Revolts – 11 paintings by Magdalena Jitrik), Borges Cultural Center, Buenos Aires. 1992 “Pinturas” (Paintings), Recoleta Cultural Center, Buenos Aires. 1990 “Pinturas 1990”, Galería del Rojas, Buenos Aires.
Main collective exhibitions: 2003 “Ansia y Devoción” (Longing and Devotion), Proa Foundation, Buenos Aires. “Contemporáneo 4, Res - Trímboli – Jitrik”, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA). “Res-Trímboli-Jitrik”, Complejo Cultural de la Provincia de Santa Cruz, Río Gallegos. “Energía Libre” (Free Energy), Casona de los Olivera, Buenos Aires.“Taller Popular de Serigrafía” (Popular Screen-Painting Workshop), Casona de los Olivera, Buenos Aires. “Taller Popular de Serigrafía”, Fábrica recuperada (recovered factory) Grissinópoli, Buenos Aires. “Dechirures de l’histoire”, Centre Régional d'Art Contemporain, Le 19, Montbéliard, France.
Public Collections: Fonds régional d'art contemporain-Provence/Alpes/Côte d'Azur. 1999 . Museum of Contemporary Art, Bahía Blanca, Arg. 1999. ARTEBA Foundation, Buenos Aires. 2000.
Vision of art
1. Choose a work that represents you, describe it in relation to its format and materiality, its relation with time and space, its style and theme; detail its production process.
I come from painting, it is like the real territory for me. This is, the works that are not paintings and are part of my work were conceived practically by painting, it is the foundation where everything else emerges. And painting, techniques and the manual aspect of the work, is something about which I am deeply concerned. In the sense that I am fascinated, regarding art, by the issue of the transformation of matter, and that happens in painting. I am starting to look for that transformation using other materials. But that is what I like a lot about art; the craft, the manual work.
About the production process. Well, based on the manual work and combining it with things that I am living and feeling in quotidian and historical reality, and at the same time our readings. Those three things are the production process. From painting, at a particular moment not quite related to it, I developed my pictorial work by reading about history in general and history of the twentieth century in particular, and a little about Argentine history, and about the world, and mainly the history of revolutions, the uprisings, the political and social movements in the world. Those are about ten years in my production in which I painted and at the same time studied a series of historical issues, and all of that enters my works. First, as titles. The painting was entitled with something I took from reading, not directly related. But I started by forcing that relationship. And the production process, in that environment of reading about histories, social and political movements, revolutionary times, their development, and all that. And then came December of 2001. That makes it possible for me to nurture a politically radical situation. And during these last four years, doing those things has also given me a lot of material for my work, many ideas related to what appears in paintings, in objects or in photographs. I think that an exhibition where I tackled many issues and was able to resolve it formally, and which generated a dialogue with all the people who attended it, was the exhibition at the Argentine Liberating Federation (Federación Libertaria Argentina). I think that the show was a pivotal point in my development, because I made it in a place without any institutional expectation, because it is totally alien to the circuit. And I get so many reactions to that exhibition that I free myself forever from any expectation for getting into museums and galleries.
I come from painting, I make paintings, and the participation has to do with someone looking at a painting and feeling a communication through the language in the painting itself. That exhibition was, then, very participative, because people came and started to talk. Instead of talking about my work, I listened to what the exhibition triggered in everybody else. It was something very cathartic. “Ah, my grandfather was a socialist”, “Oh, my father went on strike on such and such a place”. Everybody that went there somehow recalled a past with a socialist or liberating aspect, a past with a fight. That was achieved in the exhibition. And moving things that happened, like finding a letter hidden within a typewriter, a printing from the thirties. Things that happened and were also very important for the house itself: To value those objects it had, daring moments from my perspective, because there was a gun with two bullets and it was within reach. People took the gun. Some even aimed. Nobody touched the bullets, but they were there. A gun with two bullets, which had belonged to somebody from the house, a militant from the house. I think that this exhibition was very complete, very intense. Obviously, I love all my exhibitions; I might like more my painting exhibitions. But this exhibition has a place in me, where the experience of making it changes me a lot. Regarding to my own works, I can see it differently. Furthermore, it was a way of showing paintings in a different context, because there is a fictional component where there were paintings by myself as if they had been painted at the moment the objects were produced.
2. In general terms, how would you suggest to approach your work?
I would not. Even if I am involved in art and politics, or if there is a political or historical content in my personal works and, of course, in my works with the group. And this may not sound credible, but I do not look either for the works to have an educational or “normative” aspect, an “it should be”. I just want them to serve as a reflection for others and for myself. But I could not say with which concepts, how I would want them to be read. Because sometimes there are theoretical gaps in my work that trigger readings I have to bear. That could be seen at the Liberating Federation. Almost everybody tends to see my work as nostalgic, and I cannot avoid that either. Well, I do not regard it as such.
3. In reference to your work and your position in the national and international art fields, what tradition do you recognize yourself in? Who are your contemporary referents? What artists of previous generations are of interest to you?
I am a fan of all avant-gardes. I am like a person thankful to the avant-gardes. I am mainly interested in twentieth century art. I also like the nineteenth century a lot, but I think the twentieth century is a big liberation for language as a whole. In particular, of course, all concrete art, futurist art. I am very interested by the manual aspect of those paintings. By looking and looking at those paintings, I started to paint in a different manner. They are very unprejudiced paintings in terms of the way in which they have been made. And regarding Argentina, I would say that there are three artists who have an important influence on my work: Roberto Aizenberg; Grippo, even though I do not have a close formal relationship with Grippo, from him, who I love, I learned about the transformation of matter and about the craft; and also León Ferrari, to mention “the most named” (laughs). And I was also fortunate to meet León when I started to study drawing, when I was seventeen, at Marta and Víctor’s house in Mexico. And he told me: “You have to devote yourself to calligraphy” (laughs). That is lesson one and lesson ten from León: to do calligraphy. That was the thing to practice; everything else follows. And he was right.
Artists from previous and subsequent generations. About this, I agree with Alicia. I like a lot of things, in general, regardless of whether the artists are young and emerging or mature and acclaimed. What I like about many artists is the shake, the surprise. Fortunately, I like a lot of things. I will not mention anything in particular, but I am a great fan of what I see in Argentina. I do not know whether it is delusion, but when I spend some months here in Argentina, I see great exhibitions all the time.
About exhibitions by other artists in Argentina. I would mention León Ferrari’s, but not his retrospective. This is, naturally the retrospective is there, because everything was together. But I would choose the exhibition about the brailles as a work that made me think.
4. Choose works or exhibitions from the last ten or fifteen years which in your opinion were very significant and explain why
Well, I cannot answer this question, because fifteen years is a lot of time. At this moment I have a blackout, as if I had not seen anything.
5. What tendencies or groupings from common elements do you see in argentine art of the last ten or fifteen years?
I think that conceptualism has emerged significantly. This same table demonstrates it. I could define some tendencies. There are also some people very close to painting and colour, and I like that balance. Yes, there are, at least, those two tendencies. And also the issue of political art, which gets more prominent. There might be more production than during previous years, but there is always political art. I do not know whether that is enough for a tendency. Because I can identify with some artists working in art and politics, and I might not have anything to do with others.