Cesar Paternosto

(1931 – )




Cesar Paternosto, born in 1931 in the city of La Plata, Argentina, is one of the most relevant Argentinian artists. Paternosto is a prominent name among the practitioners of Latin American geometric abstraction, which is one of the most idiosyncratic contributions made by Latin America to contemporary art. Over the past five decades, he has developed a highly personal and enthralling synthesis of European abstract and constructivist traditions with pre-Hispanic Amerindian influence of forms. The latest stage of that development can be appreciated at “Painting as Object.”

Paternosto became internationally well- known in the 1960s with a series of paintings in which he left the front of the canvas empty and placed color on its side edges. “With this gesture, Paternosto restates the meaning of the pictorial work; in a sense, he stops painting,” wrote Argentine critic Ricardo Martín-Crosa. By emphasizing the three-dimensional character of the painting, Paternosto forces the viewer to inspect it as if it were a sculpture, in a mode once defined by the artist as “oblique vision.” This “close reading” of the work of art and the dislodgement of the viewer from their conventional placement in front of it constitute a meditation in movement.

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, he embarked on a journey of creative self-discovery through the Andean region of northern Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru researching the monuments and art objects of the Incan and pre-Incan civilizations. Following the lead of Joaquín Torres García, who in the 1930s started advocating the blending of European and Amerindian geometric forms. In his most recent paintings, color is applied on the sides more sparsely than in the former ones, but remain as strong, austere statements of red, blue, yellow, or black.

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