When the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg painted Composition VIII (The Cow) (c.1918) – an arrangement of solid rectangles and squares in red, blue, green, yellow and black – a familiar animal was polemically transformed into pure geometry. For van Doesburg, the transformation exemplified the principles of De Stijl (‘The Style’), a movement he co-founded in 1917 with Piet Mondrian with the aim of challenging pictorial rules by reducing, simplifying and disassembling representational painting.
Fast forward to Argentina in the 1940s: avant-garde ideas such as those spawned by van Doesburg and Mondrian had well and truly arrived but they were being animated and reshaped by artistic groups such as Arte Madí and, later, the Perceptismo Group.
Buenos Aires-born Déborah Pruden creates paintings that fit within this history of Latin American abstraction without pandering to it. She presents us with scenes of colour and line that at first appear dismantled, fractured or even unfinished. If we recognize an object in her recent paintings – such as a cardboard box, vase, shell or bottle – it is only ever suggested, as though it has been removed or deleted, leaving only a trace, the vestige of a form. In the intersection of line and colour, her paintings recall an architectural plan for an imaginary (and impossible) building, a subway map gone awry, or, simply, the preliminary marks a painter might make on the canvas as a guide for the picture to come. Here, the Vitamin P3-featured painter tells us what interests, inspires and spurs her on.
Who are you? I'm a painter from Buenos Aires.
What’s on your mind right now? Mostly my next show, which is opening soon at SlyZmud Gallery, here in Buenos Aires. I'm still painting works that I hope to put in the show and thinking about the montage. The gallery has two separate spaces one located a block away from the other and is the first time an artist will use both of them.
How do you get this stuff out? By spending a lot of time in my studio, arranging things, priming canvases, washing brushes, doing all sorts of para-painterly tasks. Listening to music, looking at books until the time comes to have the cheap instant cappuccino and start painting. No sketches, no previous ideas, in general.
How does it fit together? It doesnt fit but I like it.
What brought you to this point? I guess it's a combination of chance, determination, laziness, trips I've taken, lot of paint, influences both good and bad.
Can you control it? I never ask myself that.
Have you ever destroyed one of your paintings? No, what I do instead is put them aside so that I don't run into them too often. I like to keep them as evidence.
What’s next for you, and what’s next for painting? Looking forward to the publication of a book on my work. Going to Brazil (after a cold winter!) to visit friends in what might be an inspiring tropical break to come back to paint.
Vitamin P3 New Perspectives In Painting is the third in an ongoing series that began with Vitamin P in 2002 and Vitamin P2 in 2011. For each book, distinguished critics, curators, museum directors and other contemporary art experts are invited to nominate artists who have made significant and innovative contributions to painting. The series in general, and Vitamin P3 in particular, is probably the best way to become an instant expert on tomorrrow's painting stars today.
Find out more about Vitamin P3 New Perspectives In Painting here. Check back for another Why I Paint interview with a Vitamin P3-featured artist soon. Finally, be sure to check out more of Déborah's work at DeborahPruden.com