José Pedro Costigliolo: Spatial Relationships


An exhibition dedicated to José Pedro Costiglio, a pioneer of Uruguayan non-figurative art, and his stylistic development from the late 1950s to 1980s.


Piero Atchugarry Gallery, Garzón, Uruguay, is pleased to announce a solo show of paintings by José Pedro Costigliolo, opening April 17, 2014. The exhibition will showcase the aesthetic consistency of his geometric concrete art, focusing on his stylistic development from the late 1950s to the 1980s. A successor of 20th century movements such as Russian Suprematism, Constructivism, and Dutch Neo-Plasticism, Costigliolo was a pioneer of Uruguayan non-figurative art.

Born in 1902 in Montevido, Uruguay, Costigliolo studied at the “Circulo de Bellas Artes” from 1921-1925 under masters such as Vicente Puig and Guillermo Laborde. From 1929-1946 he explored graphic design, muralism, and Planism, and in 1934 Joaquín Torres García, returned to Montevido from Europe with the most recent knowledge of the European avant-gardes. Costigliolo’s constructive art is also in dialogue with its 1917 Russian counterpart, which, under artists such as Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky, led the way to an examination of abstract elements as the picture frame, line, and color. Finally, in 1950, Costigliolo entered his Structural phase, painting oil and vinyl works that consisted of orthogonal structures free from iconic referent.

By manipulating size, direction, and color density, Costigliolo formed asymmetrical groups of elements to convey energetic compositions. In Rectángulos LXXX-65, 1965, thin bars of different sizes form angles that are densely packed together, with bold warm and cold tones playing off of one another in the infinite space. Using only an acrylic medium, Costigliolo’s constant variation on the size of elements, limited to squares, triangles, and rectangles, became progressively simpler after 1964, conveying a strict order and total concentration on the inner workings of the components.

Untitled, 1973, reveals Costigliolo’s style of enlarging or shrinking the geometric elements, taking size, shape, color, and orientation into account. The rectangles follow a slow progression that possesses a sense of vigor through their spatial relationships. His decisions were based on the six rules of grouping established by Gestalist psychologist Max Wertheimer.

Later works such as Untitled, 1983, also incorporate black shapes, a subtle reference to Malevich and El Lissitsky. The visual repetition of floating shapes accumulates to create a system of permanent rhythm in perpetual mutation, an effect enhanced by the increased space between the rectangles and attained by positioning elements in different directions. During the latter part of his career, Costigliolo’s shapes appeared to be fighting against one another. The presence of black opposes the yellow background on the right side of the work, revealing a carefully controlled use of color that generates a sense of aggressiveness between shapes and colors that are simultaneously united and in conflict.

Although he suffered from Parkinson’s disease beginning in 1978, he continued to paint until his death in 1985.


Sarah Blagden


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