3 July 2002 - 13 July 2002

Born in 1920, León Ferrari initially trained as an engineer, only deciding to become an artist in his forties. Self-taught, Ferrari has become one of Latin America's foremost conceptual artists.

León Ferrari gained notoriety in the 1960s with polemic works seeking to debunk the religious and political hypocrisy of modern culture. An important turning point came in 1965 when, upset by the Vietnam War, Ferrari submitted a sculpture of Christ crucified on a US fighter plane for the Di Tella Prize in Buenos Aires, but the work was rejected on the grounds of its offensive visual message. After this, Ferrari stopped making art until, following a military coup in Argentina, he was exiled to Brazil in 1976. In São Paulo, he began working with the reproductive medium of heliography, traditionally used by architects to copy plans.

At first sight, the works on display look just like architect's plans of ordered environments: city streets, squares and road systems. Yet on closer inspection another world is revealed. The plans are made up of universal architect's symbols for people, beds, desks and pathways. However, these symbols soon acquire different meanings: people line up to view an empty square; a lecturer reads a paper to a group of toilets or hundreds of people struggle to get into the same bed. Through irony and humour, the works in this exhibition subtly suggest a rebellion against ordered society. Ferrari transgresses the sterile purity of the architectural plan and turns it into a chaotic world through his own creative hand.

Ferrari has described these works as a 'group of labyrinths without logic and no centre.' They expose the problems of urban life, with its obsessions, its manic movement and speed: the architecture of madness.

Gabriela Salgado, Curator

LeÓn Ferrari Interview with Gabriela Salgado

León Ferrari interview with Gabriela Salgado, 2002 from ESCALA on Vimeo.

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