Radical Geometry – reviews of 'dazzling' South American art

Jul 10, 2014

Royal Academy's 'marvellous' survey of South American abstract art makes geometry riveting

ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2014

Physichromie No. 500, 1970, by Carlos Cruz-Diez 


What you need to know

A new exhibition of modern art from South America, Radical Geometry, has opened at the Royal Academy, London. The show surveys experimental art from South American artists throughout the 20th century.

The 80 works on display showcase how artists from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela were inspired by their European counterparts such as Mondrian and Kandinsky, to experiment with space, movement, colour, and new materials such as neon and kinetic sculpture. Runs until 28 September. 

What the critics like

This exhibition of abstract South American work utterly transforms our understanding of 20th-century art, says Alastair Smart in the Daily Telegraph. It is "a quietly marvellous show" and geometry has never been so riveting.

"The radicalness in this 80-work show is twofold", says Ben Luke in the Evening Standard. Much of it emerged from Leftist politics but also took abstraction in new directions, reforming the nature of art, from the consistently inventive Brazilians to some mesmerising showstoppers from Venezuela.

 Some of the works in this "dazzling" survey of South American art have the force of a guerilla attack, says Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. You will leave this show's razor sharp encounter with great modern art with your mind set free – it's all profoundly liberating.

What they don't like

One quibble is the "narrative of unremitting positivity" despite Latin America being no stranger to dictatorships in the 20th century, says Alastair Smart in the Daily Telegraph. There could have been more about how certain artists, at certain times, used abstraction as a means of subsuming their political dissent.

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