Norberto Gómez
(Buenos Aires, 1941)
Norberto Gómez
A panorama of the 20th Century
Norberto Gómez
In 1954 he enters the Escuela de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano (“Manuel Belgrano school of fine arts”), but he drops out two years later. He proceeds to work on his own and attends a workshop on Defensa Street directed by Juan Carlos Castagnino and Antonio Berni.
In 1965 he travels to Paris and, besides travelling around Europe, he works in Julio Le Parc’s atelier, collaborating in his kinetic pieces. On his return to Buenos Aires in 1966, he starts making a series of geometrical objects in enamelled wood which explore the relationship between, and the development of, forms in space.
In 1967 he has his first one-man exhibition in the Arte Nuevo Gallery and is shortlisted for the Ver y Estimar Prize. The following year he turns to minimalist constructions or Primary Structures, treated with bright black and matte white enamels, which he exhibits in Arte Nuevo and in the Ver y Estimar show; in them he continues to develop and transform his geometrical objects.
At the beginning of the seventies he interrupts his artistic production. In 1976 he has a one-man exhibition at the Carmen Waugh Gallery in Buenos Aires, where he shows drawings and geometrical objects made in wood and plaster which are finished with metallic car paint, and represent melted shapes. For one of these pieces he is awarded the Premio Ridder de escultura (“Ridder prize in sculpture”).
From 1977 on he abandons the detachment of his previous objects, and starts fashioning entrails and shreds of muscle in polyester resin, which seem to allude to the horrors experienced by thousands of Argentines during the military dictatorship. He exhibits this series in the Arte Nuevo gallery in 1978.
His engagement with biomorphic representation continues in a succession of skeleton fragments, teeth, bundles of entrails and body remains placed on a grill.
In 1979, alongside Jorge Alvaro, Mildred Burton, Diana Dowek, Alberto Heredia and Elsa Soiberman, he begins taking part in the exhibitions of La Post-figuración (“post figurative artists”) organised by Jorge Glusberg.
In 1980 he has a one-man exhibition at Estudio Giesso, and in 1982 another one at the CAYC; he is also named artist of the year by the Asociación Argentina de Críticos (“Argentine association of critics”).
The exhibition Anuncio y Asunción (“Annunciation and Assumption”), of 1983, at the Tema gallery, closes the cycle of works that, with characteristic rawness, represents the vulnerability of the biological. Tormented monsters and shocking human remains point to a time signalled by fear and destruction.
In 1984 he exhibits again at Tema, featuring his Custodia, Pila y Látigo (“Monstrance, basin and whip”), big-format works in whitish polyester, which allude to repression and power, foreshadowing the series about weapons (swords, nails, daggers, stocks, maces, flails) made of cardboard and painted with oil, which he will exhibit the following year at the Vea gallery in Buenos Aires.
As if to draw a balance of his work under the dictatorship, in 1986 an exhibition opens at Sívori Museum: Norberto Gómez… Ocho años… (“eight years”).
The following year he starts working in plaster, creating works that will be shown at the Ruth Benzacar gallery in 1990. In these he combines deformed human figures, animals and architectural fragments in a discourse that swings from fantasy to parody.
In 1991 he attends the International Fair of Contemporary Art (ARCO) in Madrid and is awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. He also has a one-man exhibition at the Fawbush Gallery in New York, visiting the United States for the first time. In 1994 he attends the 3rd International Sculpture Symposium in Guardalavaca, Cuba.
In October 1995, a retrospective opens at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, featuring twenty years of his works; it is one of the most important exhibitions of the year. In subsequent years he takes part in several collective shows, such as Puente Aéreo II (“Shuttle II”), at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de la Universidad de Santiago de Chile (1996); Otro mirar. Arte argentino contemporáneo, in Barcelona (“Another Look. Contemporary Argentine Art”, 1997); and Siglo XX Argentina, at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires (1999-2000).
He is invited to contribute work to Parque de la memoria (“memory park”), in the Costanera Norte area of Buenos Aires, as a tribute to the victims of state terrorism; he submits a project for a monument called Towers of memory
In 2000 he exhibits his bronze sculptures in a one-man show at the Ruth Benzacar gallery. In these works he parodies the rhetoric of monuments, thus making a sarcastic comment on the commonplaces of history. In this same year the Asociación argentina de críticos de arte awards him a prize for the body of his work, and in 2002 he receives the Konex prize.
In 2003 he presents Ejercicios materiales (“Material exercises”) at Daniel Maman Fine Arts, in Buenos Aires, which features a group of works salvaged from oblivion and deterioration, belonging to series of guts and bone structures made between 1978 and 1983; it has a great impact on the public. That same year he also takes part in Between Silence and Violence, an exhibition about contemporary Argentine art sponsored by the Fundación Arte BA at Sotheby’s New York – a show that the following year opens at the Fundación Telefónica in Buenos Aires.
His work appears in Berni y sus contemporaneous. Correlatos (“Berni and his contemporary. Correspondences”), a 2005 exhibition on Latin American Art at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba); in Los ’60. Artistas argentinos en el patrimonio del Museo de bellas artes de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (“The ’60s. Argentine artists from the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts of Buenos Aires”), sponsored by the Fundación Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, at the Arte BA art fair; and at the Centro Cultural de España en Buenos Aires (CCEBA).
In 2006 he takes part in 30 años. Estéticas de la memoria (“30 years. Aesthetics of memory”), an exhibition at the Centro Cultural Recoleta which commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the last coup d’état. He also holds a one-man exhibition at the Juan Ascue art space in Buenos Aires, where he presents plasters in relief that date from the ’80s and drawings from the ’90s.
His works is part of the collections of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Museo de Bellas Artes de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Rosario (MACRO), and of numerous private collections.
He lives and works in Olivos, Buenos Aires.