Claudia Fontes Argentinean, b. 1964

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Overview

Claudia Fontes is an artist who emerged in the early 1990s in Buenos Aires - the first generation to be able to vote freely and recover the personal and subjective space in art after decades of repression under the military regime. 

 

Many artists of this generation used this new-found freedom to explore intimacy and subjectivity, for example by openly expressing sexuality in ways that were formerly marginalized. Fontes was at once part of that movement, but also significantly different from it, in that she felt a tension between the inward need for self-expression and the broader demands of a society that was embarking on a painful process of reckoning with its recent past.  These threads came together in one of her most emblematic works, "Reconstruction of the Portrait of Pablo Miguez" (1999-2010), an homage to one of the many victims of the dictatorship: a solitary figure who stands on the waters of the Rio de la Plata, where many people were 'disappeared'.  The poignancy and sensitivity of this work provided a way forward for many artists and viewers who were looking for a way to understand a historical trauma that was social and political, but also extremely, and painfully, intimate.

 

In her practice, Claudia Fontes is after ‘the poetical and political that emerge from making things and gathering with others.’ She considers herself as a medium for matter: ‘I believe that being an artist is being a host: we can only prepare the space for things to be and to make themselves present.’ Her engagement with the possibilities of sculpture as a medium, through which she effectively explores questions of scale and relation, is a constant throughout her career.  At two ends of the spectrum are her large sculpture of a horse and two human figures for the 57th Venice Biennale (2017), and her series of Foreigners (2014-2021), strange small-scale porcelain figures that seem to carry the physical marks of intimacy and emotional porosity.

 

The works of Claudia Fontes can be found in the collections of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, the Museum for Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Rosario, as well as private collections in Latin America, the United States, Europe and Australia. Her work has been presented worldwide in both solo as well as group exhibitions. In 2017, she represented Argentina at the 57th Venice Biennale with her installation The Horse Problem. In 2018 she was one of seven artists-curators at the 33rd Sao Paulo Biennial for which she created the section The Slow Bird. In 2020 she was nominated for the High Line Plinth and was a finalist for the Percent for Arts NYC‘s commission at Bush Terminal in Brooklyn.

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