Antonio Slepak

1939 - 2016 · Uruguay

Artist biography

Antonio Slepak was born in Montevideo on August 23, 1939, in a family of migrants. For a year, he studied Engineering, to later abandon it. Without having pursued a formal education in the field of visual arts, its self-taught development was no stranger to the avant-garde movements of its time.

Between the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties, the Uruguayan art scene was dominated by the variations of Gestural, Lyrical or Informal Abstraction. In the Uruguayan case, after the creative exhaustion that occurs in the two abstract variants - the Constructivist, related to the Torres García Workshop, as well as the Concreto-Madí, and also a certain modernist figuration -, they find in the Informalism the last avant-garde space , where three different generations of artists intersect.

Slepak's first experiments approached Informalism and the New Figuration, very active in the Montevidean art scene. The body of work produced at that time can be divided into two groups: the works carried out on fast-running paper, basically large spots of earthy colors; and the pictures on agglomerate plates, made with a combination of stains and textures made with sand. Subsequently, the artist introduces in the forms of these signs some elements that suggest a figuration, especially human representations. From the second half of the sixties, he made a work that synthesizes and merges elements of Optical Abstraction, Pop and visual poetry, without having a total correspondence with these aesthetics or isms.

In 1965, Antonio Slepak participates in his first artistic events: the Second GE Room, organized by the General Electric Institute, and the First Young Artists Hall in Latin America, through which three artists would be selected to represent the country in the Esso Room of Young Artists. The following year, he made his first individual exhibition, shared with the artist Víctor Mesa (1951) and, from that moment on, his production quickly evolved towards a less expressionist and more austere figuration, integrating geometric elements and words. The general climate of these works is festive and chaotic, with elements that define contemporary reality: advertising, film and television, among others. In a subtle way, the artist gives an account of the social and political reality of Montevideo, which will be redefined through the media. On the other hand, the ambiguity in the succession of signs contributes to the political dimension of visual poetry, which has Clemente Padín's work as a contemporary example. The practice of modifying the language within poetry was understood as an action of struggle and rebellion against what was established from the political and economic powers.

Between 1967 and 1969, Slepak participates in several events. His work is part of collective exhibitions with creators of his generation, in particular the group linked to Gallery A and U, founded and directed by Enrique Gómez, and in other private spaces such as the Arts and Letters Center of Punta del Este or Friends of Art He also participates in the National and Municipal Hall, in the International Drawing Exhibition, organized at the University of Puerto Rico, and presents his second individual exhibition entitled Slepak Drawings 68 (December 1968, Art Gallery A). In 1969, his work is included in the Uruguayan official submission to the X Biennial of San Pablo, along with José Cuneo Perinetti, Nelson Ramos and Agustín Alamán.

The production of Slepak during much of the seventies and early eighties recovers the tradition of Uruguayan geometric abstraction, whose richness is characterized by the use of geometric elements that go beyond being shown as figures and planes of color that interact with harmonic form, but as forms with a close relationship with social, economic and political reality. In 1981, he presented the individual exhibition "slepak 81" at the Cinemateca Gallery, in Montevideo. Subsequently, in 1990 it is part of the collective exhibition El Dibujazo, presented at the Exhibition Center of the Municipal Palace.

Antonio Slepak

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