El Espartano

Interview – Jorge Macchi in the MNBA


The National Museum of Fine Arts of Argentina presents “The night of the museums”, an unprecedented exhibition by Jorge Macchi, prepared jointly with El Espartano.

Opened on April 15, The night of the museums is a site-specific exhibition by Argentine artist Jorge Macchi for the Bemberg hall of the National Fine Arts Museum of Buenos Aires within the frame of “Perspectiva” (Perspective), the first retrospective exhibition of the artist in the country, carried out simultaneously at the Latin American Art Museum (MALBA) and the Torcuato Di Tella University.


When entering the hall, the visitor finds himself facing a rug of great dimensions on which four spotlights that seem to have fallen from the ceiling and broken lay. Curiously enough, the four fragments which would have created these spots on the rug are the only parts of the pattern which remain visible, while the other areas seem to have vanished. This makes the visitor reflect on the meaning and materializing power of light, one of the central issues of Macchi’s work.


This 7 x 6 m rug was specially developed by El Espartano jointly with the artist after months of research, using a sophisticate system of digital weaving and a score of wool colors meticulously combined in order to achieve the complex effects of vanishing pattern.

The night of the museums is the second time the company and the artist work together. In 2015 they had prepared the production of a smaller rug with a simpler design for the Lampo exhibition which took place in the NC-arte gallery in Bogotá, Colombia.


The idea

“Ever since we made the first rug for the Homesick home work, which was exhibited in Bogotá, I have been tempted to do a more complex design work with an extra color and also to work in a larger scale so as to include more than one spot of light. The Bemberg hall at the Fine Arts Museum, the illumination of which draws circles of lights on the walls and with an approximate dimension of 9 x 10 meters, seemed ideal to undertake this project of greater complexity. And despite the impression that Homesick home had a very private and homely stamp, at The night of the museums it opens up to the institutional space while retaining the reference to an accident as the origin of the spots of light on the rug”



The design

“I’ve always liked these weaves and patterns that resemble overlapping cubes: it is clearly a visual texture but at the same time it creates an illusion of space. The choice of red and black allowed me to work with two different color gradations for each case: black imposes a more sudden gradation than that of red in order to reach the natural color of the wool”


The process

“The elaboration process of this second piece was radically different from the first rug I made with El Espartano”, explains Macchi. “In the former the technique was manual and the rug presented the defects and virtues of manufacture. On the other hand, the original idea was to make this rug in an automated manner, from a digital file. So, we had to carry out many tests aimed at removing abrupt changes in the gradation of colors. Another difficult point of this second version was the impossibility of seeing it fully assembled before placing it at the museum: due to its characteristics the rug as made in three parts which were then joined once in the hall. This project tempts me to keep on working in this piece of work so as to make the motif more complex, especially by including more colors”


The exhibition

“In his intervention, the irruption of the unexpected alters the usual order of the Museum”, Andrés Drupat, Director of the MNBA explains. “The issue in The night of the museums –a disturbing name making reference to an unusual time in this type of places– is the light, its perception and its power to codify the images operating in Macchi’s visual economy to present what is visible as real”

“The installation has something of feature films: it is a scene which has already started and, it could be said that, ended as well. The important thing, on which the plot is based and which provides sense to the events which could have taken place in the hall, has already happened, and there are no witnesses. We, the visitors, arrive late and have to settle for the consequences of the main act. As in good movies, Macchi avoids the climax. He knows that a subtle move that stimulates our imagination boosts the scene towards the infinite. There is nothing more provocative than what is suggested or hardly perceived.”

”The night of the museums” shall be exhibited in hall 27 of the National Fine Arts Museum (Av. Del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires) and can be visited up to July 31. Free admission