December 11, 2017
Saturday, August 9, 2014

Zooming in on Out of Focus at Vasari Gallery

An out-of-focus photo by Alejandro Kuropatwa.
An out-of-focus photo by Alejandro Kuropatwa.
An out-of-focus photo by Alejandro Kuropatwa.
By Silvia Rottenberg
For The Herald

Alejandro Kuropatwa’s photograph series is shown as part of the Festival de la luz

The Vasari Gallery, in the light of the Festival de la luz, which is officially opening on August 12, has already inaugurated an exhibition of Alejandro Kuropatwa’s photograph series Out of Focus. The opening in itself was most likely a representation of the life Kuropatwa has lead: festive and with lots of friends.

Alejandro Kuropatwa (1956-2003) became interested in photography from an early age. In 1979, he left Argentina and its then repressive regime to lead a life of freedom in New York. Openly gay, he lived life to the full in New York, enjoying its nightlife in extravagance. During the day he studied photography, entering the Parsons School of Design in 1981. At the end of the year he was asked to put together an exhibition. It was the series Out of Focus.

Even though New York, at the time, was known for its underground scene and for being on the edge of things, the school refused to show his blurred photo series. “Isn’t it strange,” says his sister Liliana, “that in New York, in the land of the free, they didn’t let him show his works, yet in Buenos Aires, in 1982 (in Studio Giesso) they did.”

Ten photos of this series are now on display at Vasari Gallery. Some have never been shown before as they were printed for the first time from the negatives left to the family. Even though out of focus, the subject matter of each black and white photo is distinguishable, such as beautiful women revelling in their beauty. The soft edge of the out-of-focus blur turn them into desirable yet untouchable beings — almost ghostly, dreamy apparitions.

Three of the out-of-focus photographs have been exhibited prior to this show. In 2005 there was a large retrospective of his work at the MALBA, which encompassed more of his oeuvre, like his photos of famous Argentine stars, including Fito Páez and Charly García, with whom he celebrated life once back in Buenos Aires.

Kuropatwa decided to stay in Argentina when he found out he had AIDS. Changing his lifestyle from cocktails under a parasol to cocktails slowing down his death, his life as the source for his work, led him to create sharp-focused photographic compositions of the pills he had to take. The soft edge had been replaced by the hard edge.

Where & When

Out of Focus is on view at VASARI Gallery, Esmeralda 1357, until September 5 as part of the Festival de la Luz.

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