ARS LIBRI 11
January 8 – March 1, 2010
It is pro forma, in these matters, to detail that Victoria Gitman was born in Buenos Aries, Argentina, in 1972 but currently lives and works in Miami, and to say something of her training, education and influences. It might be that these are the kinds of things that critics, curators and collectors need in order to frame what they write or think about in response to what they see. It is a starting point, at least -- an entrée.
So, Gitman was born in Buenos Aries, the child of two architects, studied at Florida International University and Yale, has work included in The Whitney Museum, MoMA, and has had some well reviewed museum exhibitions. Her subject matter has centered on making highly detailed, small, elegantly presented oil paintings of beads and beaded purses and small drawings that reproduce post cards of Renaissance paintings of beautiful young women.
Something has been made, unsurprisingly, of the rich semiotics of her work – issues of gender, art history, labor, craft and verisimilitude engage sumptuously in these exquisite paintings and drawings. Each is like a frozen detail from a Van Eyck panel, each a devout embrace of Netherlandish realism and the confidence in materialism that will teeter into the efflorescence of the Baroque. Reading enough Max Friedlander, Hans Belting or Dirk de Vos helps us feel smart enough to think we know where Gitman is coming from.
But what about beauty? The sheer, unmediated pleasure of looking?
Sure, the die-hard theorists will insist we are still caught in the nets of this or that gaze and that our ‘looking’ is underwritten by this or that urge. But it does not matter. Radical tactics mean making smart and beautiful paintings despite the taboos on beauty.