Mano Mal Dibujada, Teresa Burga’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, is familiar yet new. She plays on recognizable imagery to create a variety of works that simultaneously bring us back to our youth while also giving us something we haven’t seen before. Housed in the warehouse gallery space of SculptureCenter, the exhibition can be divided into three distinct sections: the Prismas, the drawings of drawings, and the Manos Malas Dibujadas.
The Prismas (accompanied by drawings of their plans) are whimsical, geometric shapes. They are suggestive of large toy blocks and are covered in bright patterns and simple images of everyday items. Laid out on a white backdrop in the middle of the floor, their carefully placed chaos is reminiscent of a nursery school after playtime. The interwoven patterns and colors are striking; the viewer wants to peer at every surface of the non-symmetrical sculptures no matter what bending and torquing it takes. The meticulous plans for each individual shape and its corresponding covering serve to show the structure in what seems to be a sculpture that is completely lacking it.
Displayed on the opposite wall are Burga’s drawings based on those done by children. The originals and Burga’s copy are placed side by side, allowing for close comparison. These works reflect a connection between what it means to be female artist in a male dominated art world and childlike depictions. At times one could mistake Burga’s drawing for one done by a child, emphasizing their intertwined nature.
Untitled (Briggitte Hagenmeyer, 1977), 2014
The badly drawn hands (or mano mal dibujada), are delicate and heavy, beautiful yet harsh. Based off of a drawing Burga did that was previously displayed at SculptureCenter, the steel sculptures depict the many movements of the artist’s hand. Their abstract nature conjures up fascination, as well as a childlike stubbornness. Their display is pitch perfect; the hands are placed on a large platform with lighting that creates the most enthralling of shadows. The shadows become an entity of their own, projecting mysterious shapes on the wall. Burga, now in her eighties, has embraced the symbol that has plagued artists for centuries, la mano, imbuing her sense of humor and eye for making the ordinary extraordinary.
Mano mal dibujada, 2015-2017
Teresa Burga: Mano Mal Dibujada
May 1-July 31, 2017
44-19 Purves St
Long Island City, NY 11101
Photos courtesy the author